Here we are virtually on the eve of the 2002
World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield England.
Of the old guard of professional players, both
John Parrott and Jimmy White will be in the televised competition, but sadly
for the second year in succession Steve Davis will not be there as a
I was glad to see that his mental attitude was
still positive and that at least for the time being, he has no immediate plans
to retire. In my opinion he is still good for the game as a kind of front man
for the sport and a player who still possesses the skills to cause the odd
upset from time to time.
We are coming to the end of an era in the next
couple of years, as tobacco sponsorship will be banned soon.
It seems strange to me to envisage the
championship as anything other than the Embassy. Even though I associate the
name more as an epithet that relates to the premier and showcase status of the
event rather than a cigarette brand. I am a non-smoker, so this seems logical
to me, and even though I enjoy the seventeen days at the Crucible, I have not
yet found myself craving an Embassy Number One to get me through the snooker
I wonder whether the event will retain its
special character over the coming years and whether the WSA will be able to
replace the long standing sponsor with a suitable and professional replacement.
As a snooker fan I can only hope so, and further hope that the tournament
continues in the same style in the coming seasons.
I have been a regular visitor to the Crucible
for the past eight or nine years and have always enjoyed my visits to the
famous venue. One year I was making my way back to the theatre, after going out
between sessions for a meal, having previously bought the Video subtitled "a
great Day for the Irish". Who should my companion spot coming in the other
direction but Ken Doherty and a small group of friends? I wished him well for
his forthcoming match and asked him to sign the inner sleeve of my video, he
was very pleasant and obliging, yet another good ambassador for our sport and a
two times finalist at the Crucible.
In recent years I have always visited the
heritage room and re-acquainted myself with Roger Lee. The Heritage Room is a
great feature of the tournament for me, and really helps the historical past of
billiards and snooker come to life. I plan to visit the room again this year in
the hope of learning something new or making a new friend with a similar
historical interest to myself.
At this time of year, in my local club, the
discussions at the bar often revolve around which outsider is a good bet for
the tournament. I feel that Peter Ebdon, Paul Hunter and Mathew Stevens have a
good chance of going the distance in the tournament, but believe that the
winner will come from the four recent champions of Mark J Williams, Stephen
Hendry, John Higgins or Ronnie O`Sullivan.
I suspect that much will be made over the coming
weeks about the fact that no first time winner has retained the title at the
Crucible. The effects of this scenario will either help Ronnie O`Sullivan, the
defending champion, to focus on the job at hand, or the weight of history will
distract him and reduce his competitive edge. I am looking forward to seeing
how he handles this latest challenge as the tournament progresses.
Another player who on his day can make headlines
for either all the wrong reasons or all the right reasons is Quinten Hann from
Australia, he is now a seasoned professional, so a shock or two might be in the
offing. For the international sake of the sport at least, I hope that he
manages a good run, this year.
I intend to write more as the tournament gets
under way so watch the site closely for future stories, if you want to tell us
about your Crucible experiences, you know the address. I look forward to
hearing from you.