Dedication, hard work and effort
can still pay off in todays quick fix lottery addicted, burger bar, and
fast food culture.
Peter Ebdon a player, who was
accused earlier in the season, of being "a banger, with no idea of where the
cue ball would finish". By one of his fellow professionals, has won the
ultimate prize in snooker and has secured a slice of immortality, after 17 days
of gruelling competition in Sheffield.
Ebdon survived a nail-biting
semi-final against the gallant Mathew Stevens of North Wales to book a final
place against the in form Stephen Hendry who had sent home Ronnie
OSullivan in an equally thrilling semi-final.
Stephen Hendry knocked in a
phenomenal number of century breaks throughout the tournament and at times
The tournament was full of high
quality matches played for the most part in tremendous spirit, what a credit to
the game this championship was.
Ronnie OSullivan clearly
needed to inject some needle into his semi-final encounter with Mr Hendry and
so played a card reminiscent of a boxing contest by criticising his opponent
prior to the start of the match. This breach of etiquette seemed to galvanise
Stephen Hendry and in its way seemed to contribute to the downfall of the
Returning to the final, Peter
Ebdon appeared to have lost his chance to win when he missed an ordinarily
routine black ball with the scores on 17-16 to him, to be fair Stephen cleared
the table and set up a deciding frame, sudden death situation. This was of
course tailor made for the television audience, it couldnt have worked
out better if a Hollywood filmmaker had scripted it.
Inevitably the subject of
Peters missed black bears closer investigation, how many of us have made
a similar mistake at club level and continued to play badly, unable to shrug
off the mistake we had recently made due to our belief that we had let the team
and ourselves down. Imagine this magnified by the television cameras, the
Crucible audience and the title and prize money that it caries. What a
courageous thing to come out for the next and deciding frame and play to win as
though nothing untoward had happened.
During the LG Cup, I wrote that
I believed that Peter Ebdon had much to offer the snooker circuit and that his
previous outbursts at critical points of matches were not meant as
disrespectful to his opponents or indeed the game itself. Peter has, I feel
demonstrated the utmost commitment to the game and his supporters by
controlling himself under the greatest pressure that the game can produce. A
Crucible final against the "best player ever to pick up a cue" as Dennis Taylor
describes him, Peter has emerged as arguably the most committed player ever to
pick up a cue.
Having said all this we must
spare a thought for the runner up, Stephen Hendry, he also mounted a tremendous
tilt at the trophy and came away, as far as he looks at it with nothing. I do
not agree with his feelings in this matter, I hope that he made new fans and
gained additional respect from all who watch and take part in snooker. To mount
such a sustained challenge was nothing short of miraculous. Nine finals, it
goes without saying is a record in itself, good luck to Stephen for the coming
season and who knows his managers prediction, made in 1987 may yet come true
that Stephen could go on to win ten Embassy World Championships with this level
of dedication and ability.
When you look back over the past
twenty years, the list of champions names is I think surprisingly short
Peter Ebdon, Ronnie
OSullivan, Mark Williams, John Higgins, Ken Doherty, Stephen Hendry, John
Parrott, Steve Davis, Joe Johnson, Dennis Taylor and Alex Higgins. Of these
eleven men, not many have competed in more than two finals so Steve Davis and
Stephen Hendry are still streets ahead. I look forward to the coming years,
hoping to see either Ronnie OSullivan or John Higgins win another World
Championship, they will no doubt have keen competition from the likes of Mathew
Stevens and Stephen Lee.
Comparisons have been made
between this and the 1985 final between Davis and Taylor. Another final, and
the circumstances around it bears looking at. In terms of character, the return
and triumph in the final of John Parrott, a man whose first final was an
emotionally draining drubbing by Steve Davis, he returned in 1991 to triumph
over the man in form at the time Jimmy White. That showed real grit and
Finally, from an English
fans point of view, it was nice that back to back English players have
won the title, not since Steve Davis and Joe Johnson has this happened, maybe
next year an overseas player will win again. To me this is long overdue but we
will enjoy this success, while it lasts.