I read articles which go into infinite detail
about expense accounts and the political wranglings of the game of Snooker and
those who seem bent on damaging the credibility of the game, that we as
spectators see as a pure and sportsmanlike contest with rules and expectations
about conduct and even codes of dress that were founded a hundred or so years
I know that these articles are necessary and
valid in that they stand as a watchdog over those whose capabilities and
perhaps intentions are not to the standard that we would wish?
The problem that I have with these articles is
that they are not at all entertaining, neither do they enhance the image of the
game in themselves.
I would like to see more articles dealing with
aspects of the players, managers and supporting organisers of our sport that
give a fresh perspective on the more positive elements that make Snooker one of
the most popular pastimes and television sports in the country.
I dont advocate simply printing shallow
publicity brochures from managers promoting their players or press handouts
from sponsors that are in reality thinly veiled advertisements. But most of us
who are involved in Snooker are carrying out voluntary coaching or captaining
local teams with little real hope of achieving great notoriety.
One of the chief selling points of Snooker is
the type of person it seems to attract, such as Ken Doherty for example. I met
Ken outside a Pub in Sheffield, where I am sure he intended to take a bite to
eat with a few friends. Ken took a moment to sign the inside of the jacket of
the video that I had just bought of him winning the world championship. I am
not usually prone to asking for autographs but the coincidence seemed too great
to pass it up. Ken was very polite and signed the video, I wished him well and
as you may recall, he got to the final losing to John Higgins, I think.
The point that I am making is that with
competitors and ambassadors of this quality Snooker has more going for it than
some walks of life. When a negative article is printed, to the casual observer
it appears that all of Snooker is somehow corrupt.
Going back to my previous point for a moment,
Snooker has within its ranks many people who show positive characteristics as
well as negative ones, an example of this is Peter Ebdon who has the apparent
fault of exploding with emotion when winning what to him is a major
I suspect that Peter is the sort of deep
individual whose biggest victory is over his own weaknesses as an individual.
If I am right then his outbursts have nothing to do with whom he is
I read references in magazines that could
damage the self esteem of anyone reading them and damage their performance
accordingly if that person were to take them seriously.
Stephen Lee has vowed that he will use this past
controversy to fuel his current campaign, if he manages this he will have had
the greater victory, while Peter will have a forever tarnished reputation based
on one particular view. This does not seem even-handed to me.
Peters manner around the tournaments and
in press conferences is to my eye everything that you would hope for in a
professional sportsman and ambassador. Except when for a brief moment he lets
it all hang out so to speak at the climax of an important match, surely a fair
minded reporter should refer to this characteristics as well.
I am not a big Peter Ebdon fan, I must confess,
but I do recognise the positive qualities of tenacity and family values that he
demonstrates on and off the table at all other times. Is there enough room in
the sport for every type of competitor, I hope so.
I suspect that of the two people directly
involved in this controversy, Peter is the most negatively affected.
If we accept that Peter was "out of order",
further mitigation still exists at this late stage. Stephen is taking this
stand well after the emotional, "heat of battle" is over, Peter is now silent.
Who now seems to be the better ambassador for Snooker?
In conclusion and on balance, I will in my
pieces try to focus on the more positive aspects of the game now and over the
past few years, perhaps it is a good thing that I dont know all the
internal wranglings that plague my favourite sport.
I still retain the naivety of the young man who
watched Alex Higgins making the white ball perform miracles that the other
players could only dream about. When it transpired that Alex went about peeing
in plant pots and head butting officials I couldn't watch him play with the
same pleasure anymore.
So for me at least Alex remains a genius, Peter
is a little highly strung and Stephen will grow out of it and then I will enjoy
watching all of them perform magic on the green baize once again.