When they sent me off to cover the first sessions of the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield for the Daily Sport, I neglected to mention that most of the players I was brought up cheering on have now retired or failed to qualify – no Jimmy White, Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, Terry Griffiths (the list is endless), but a new generation of stars such as Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson with Ronnie O’Sullivan sort of overlapping the two lists? Having played snooker as badly as anyone could, I at least appreciate their abilities (I can’t even see the length of the table let alone pot one), unlike some of the armchair fans who seem convinced they could do better?
Anyway, I rolled up an hour or so before the start of the first two matches, fighting my way past the fans at the stage door looking for autographs (I offered but no one was interested), to watch a full house (sold out) take their seats and (hopefully) turn off their phones before defending Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan took on Robin Hull on table one and Mark Bingham played Ken Doherty on table two. Odds of 1/25 best price for Ronnie and 2/9 for Stuart meant having a bet was a pretty pointless exercise so I sat back to watch the action instead, focusing on Ronnie (just like everyone else, media brainwashing at its very best), but to be fair, all sports need their characters and they don’t come any bigger than his!
I am sure you will be glad to read that I have no intention of a ball-by-ball commentary (zzzzzz), so suffice to say that the morning session saw Ronnie looking as good as ever with the odd error that creeps in to his game now and then (it’s who he is), and as a warm up for the rest of the week, what more could he possibly ask for, though whether the pre tournament odds of 6/5 (best price) is any kind of value is another question? Trying to get solid info from the media room is like getting blood out of a stone, so I drew my own conclusions and decided an each way bet from the non Ronnie half of the draw could give me a chance, and possibly a half decent run for my money? At 10/1 Neil Robertson looks to fit the bill (famous last words), and comes here in top form though I admit, he will need to be if he is to beat the favourite. He has been knocking in centuries for fun all season, won the title in 2010 so knows exactly what is needed, and is renowned for some serious comebacks after poor starts (so heart as well as skill), and at 10/1 is seriously overpriced – there you go, I have talked myself in to having a bet!
Finally, and with fourteen days still to go there is no way I intend to bamboozle you with too much detail so we will simply be following Ronnie’s progress and not change horses until (or if) he gets knocked out of the tournament, making my life a whole lot easier – I’ll be back later in the week with the next episode of the Ronnie show once we see how he gets on against his next opponent!