Recently an interesting aspect to the Scottish
Masters struck me, the last four men in the tournament were all English. Peter
Ebdon, David Gray, Nigel Bond and the eventual winner, Stephen Lee were the
English men in question.
The reason that this statistic even caused a
stir of notice from me is that if anyone from outside the British Isles or from
one of the other home countries does well at anything there nationality always
seems to make it onto line one of the story.
I was pleased that Snooker had an upsurge in
Scotland after the arrival of Stephen Hendry. Prior to his debut in 1985, the
only players to make an impact were Ian Black, Murdo McCloud, Jim Donnelly and
of course Walter Donaldson in the 1940s.
After Mr Hendrys raid on the ranking
tournaments filtered back North of the border, a new breed of Scots
player began to emerge, such Players as Alan McManus and John Higgins quickly
Now the game is also a successful hunting ground
for Welsh players too such as Mark Williams and Mathew Stevens, these two
players are following in the illustrious footsteps of the great Welsh
triumvirate of Ray Reardon, Terry Griffiths and Doug Mountjoy.
Now that the game is open, I think that it is
only fair to recognise the international aspect of it. When you look at the top
thirty-two, you see that there are several Thai players, a player from Malta, a
prominent player from Hong Kong and Ken Doherty from the Republic of
If we do decide to take pride in the
international influx in the modern game, we should also not be ashamed to
recognise the achievements of the English players, after all for the next
couple of weeks Ronnie OSullivan, from England is World Champion, the
first Englishman since, John Parrott to lift the cup in eleven years. Well-done
Ronnie and good luck to all the players for this years tournament, and may the
best man win, wherever he is from.
Surely in sport, it is good sportsmanship to
positively recognise the achievement of the best players over a major
tournament, regardless of their home country, but if they happen to be English
and proud of it, that should be OK too.
Perhaps the time has come for an overseas player
to win at the Crucible once again. Perhaps someone from Thailand is due a good
run or someone from mainland Europe.
I feel sure that there will be shocks along the
way this year as there is in the early part of the tournament every year. At
the same time, I feel that the winner will be one of the following players who
have won tournaments this season.
- Stephen Lee
- John Higgins
- Stephen Hendry
- Mark Williams
- Paul Hunter
- Ronnie O Sullivan
Of the outsiders, some names stand out:
- Ali Carter
- Peter Ebdon
- Mathew Stevens
We will all have the answer of course in
seventeen days, but it is quite good fun to speculate.
I plan to be glued to the television throughout
the entirety of the tournament and regardless of the nationality of the
eventual winner will enjoy the tournament as it is snookers showpiece event and
is always a credit to the sport.