It was vintage World Snooker Championship that had pundits purring about a renaissance for the sport. So what did we learn at the Crucible 2011…
• MC Rob “Let’s get the boys on the baize” Walker is the world’s most enthusiastic man able to whip crowds into a frenzy before any match… even one involving Peter Ebdon. Something of the Alan Partridge about him though. During that film he did running around Sheffield pretending to be busy and keeping up with BBC snooker coverage via his laptop and mobile phone, half expected a dead cow to land on his head.
• National treasure Stephen Fry is more snookerist than royalist. While one million people were lining the royal wedding parade route, Fry was at home ignoring Wills and Kate’s nuptials and watching the Ding-Trump semi-final on the other side, tweeting excitable updates to those of us stranded among the Union-jack wielding loons.
• Barry Hearn is God. Ask any top professional snooker player now and they’ll tell you. If they aren’t busy bathing his feet in essential oils and feeding him grapes, that is. And to think, last year he only just got enough votes from those same players to allow him to take control of what was a moribund game.
• Former world number two and Eighties snooker pin-up Tony Knowles is still alive, well, running a wine bar in the Lake District, and planning a comeback. But can he still compete at the grand old age of 55? More importantly, can he still pull a Page 3 stunna?
• They’ve got the walk-on music now, but how about the players actually living up to their nicknames as they enter the arena? If Mark ‘The Royal’ King plays ‘The Jester from Leicester’ Mark Selby, why don’t they re-enact a scene from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night pre-match? Chain up ‘The Wizard of Wishaw’ John Higgins and Shaun ‘The Magician’ Murphy, put them in a glass box and fill it with water – first one to escape gets to break. Meanwhile Neil Robertson ‘The Thunder from Down Under’ and Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White could get meteorological on our asses. And if Jamie ‘Shotgun’ Cope and Mark ‘Pistol’ Allen ever meet, it’s going to be bloody carnage.
• Snooker’s smoothest cueist and sizeable unit Stephen Lee seems to be getting in shape for an appearance on Celebrity Fit Club. Someone should tell him it hasn’t been on telly since 2006.
Now, if only Barry Hearn can somehow achieve alchemy between Trump’s hair (described by one Tweeter as “Like a sandy windlblown bunker on a golf course in hell”) and Pip Middleton’s arse, snooker’s revival shall be assured.
• A ‘kick’, the strange effect that causes cue ball and object ball to jump off line on contact, can best be explained using two cupcakes as Steve Davis showed. He really did.
• Judd Trump has got a brother called Jack with the same haircut and a mate called Ryan. We know this because the BBC’s director never tired of cutting to them during the Juddanator’s matches. By the final, Willie Thorne was trying to set up a game of golf with Jack and Judd on live television.
• Trump’s ultra-aggressive attacking style of play is the future of snooker…
• … or is it? John Higgins’ all-round game and granite mentality got the job done in the end, beating Trump 18-15. In 1984, Steve Davis beat the similarly fearless 21-year old Jimmy White 18-16 in the final. Similar predictions were made about the Whirlwind’s future and, sadly, Jimmy never won the title despite reaching six finals. Just saying…
• If you are Shane Filan of Westlife, you can always get a seat in the press box ahead of journalists. Goes to show that all those years sitting on stools singing insipid ballads was not in vain.
• Snooker players and fans have succumbed to the joys of Twitter, from the mid-match tweets of Judd Trump (‘Excited much’) to most unashamedly pretentious tweet of the week by snooker loving thespian of the arts, the aforementioned Stephen Fry (‘There's something quite terrifyingly Nietzschean about Graeme Dott's ferocious will’). Trump now has over 49,000 followers, more than double the amount of another Twitter newbie Ronnie O’Sullivan. And like any true pioneer, Trump himself follows no-one.
• Shortsighted players do not need big Dennis Taylor-style glasses. London potting machine Martin Gould wears tiny librarian specs and looks over the top of them. How does he do that.
• A new era demands a new dress code. Too many players are going for the tired old black-shirt-black-waistcoat combo. Only Mark Selby and Martin Gould are making an effort. Come on, boys, get yourself down to the tailors and mix it up a bit. Think Alex Higgins multicoloured shirts and fedora, Knowlesy’s thin ties, Kirk Stevens’ Travolta-style white suit.
• Snooker’s future looks bright again. Now, if only Barry Hearn can somehow achieve alchemy between Trump’s hair (described by one Tweeter as “Like a sandy windlblown bunker on a golf course in hell”) and Pip Middleton’s arse, snooker’s revival shall be assured.
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