Now, I know I have been criticised a lot in life, both on this site and off, for constantly repeating myself. And telling stories I find interesting more then once. But I make no apology for repeating a lot the stuff I say here. I travel to a lot of snooker venues to watch live snooker. This will be my sixth visit to The Crucible in a row, and I made my sixth annaual visit to Wembley this year. (Sundaygirl ) I also have been to Telford three years running, and have been to Newport twice. And one thing I have noticed is that when you go to Wembley, or Telford, or anywhere else you go to watch snooker. This may seem like an obvious statement, and it is. There is nothing wrong with going to live snooker. It's a fun thing to do. But during World Championship fortnight, there is something different there. During that time frame, going to Sheffield and watching live snooker are exactly the same thing.
I stay in a hotel right by The Crucible. Every single fan who stays there during Crucible Fortnight is a snooker fan. Every single one. You go to the bar an hour before a game, or fifteen minutes after a game, people are there eating, drinking and talking about snooker. Stroll around town, and it is full of people discussing snooker. Believe it or not, one year before the final I went to a church service. And even the priest came up to me afterwards and said; "You here for the snooker? Who do you think will win?" After end of play on day one, which that year was about half-past nine, I got talking to a guy in the hotel bar over a beer. Apparently he came alone every year, like I did. But he came every year to the final. I said to him; "rubbish. Does that mean you came the year Ebdon played Dott?" He sighed, rolled back his head and went; "Oh bucking hell." We also had a good long talk about how fit Michaela Tabb was. And about though I hated Ronnie O'Sullivan, I at least could find something to hate about him. Whereas Ali Carter it was hard to have any opinion about at all. I also got talking to a member of the BBC camera crew. He gave me a load of his ideas about how snooker could be improved. They were all rubbish, pretty much how to shorten it so he didn't need to work such longer hours, but I nodded along.
Contrast that to Telford. The hotel I stayed in this year, I arrived, paid and was shown where my room was in a very mechanical way. Whilst I was waiting for my card to go through I said; "I'm here for the snooker." My response was; "Oh!" At Sheffield, I'd have got a prediction from the member of staff as to who was going to win. They may only memorise the names of players, and guess. But they make the effort, knowing why people are there. That was my third year at Telford and my third different hotel. As oppose to Sheffield where I stay at the same one every year. Says it all. One year, a guy walked into the hotel bar at Telford and said; "Oooh, snooker is on telly. Where's this being held?" (I know I tell that story a lot, but it bears repeating.)
Wembley, I commute to, because I'm close enough. But the theory is the same. The atmosphere might look good on telly, with all the shouting. But you never get to interact with players at the Arena. At The Crucible, you'd struggle to be there a session, without talking to a player. I could create a whole new topic of examples about how Wembley staff don't give a feck about the snooker being on, and treat it just like any other event.
The point I'm trying to make is this. Yes the World Championships are special, and it's a special event. But part of that is due to the venue. And by the venue, I don't just mean The Crucible. I mean Sheffield, as a whole. Because the whole city becomes snooker for those two weeks. Whereas other cities host snooker. It's a big difference. Anybody who has watched the World Championship in Sheffield, and then watched a ranker elsewhere will know what I mean. The Worlds is the one tournament I'd argue to my deathbead about moving from it's current venue. That's not sentiment. I wouldn't want The Worlds held at a venue within walking distance of my flat. I'd move The Masters, which is commutable distance to me, to China before I'd move the Worlds.
My point, again, is that there's a world of difference between hosting a snooker venue, and becoming snooker. You go there, and it's 24/7 snooker, with people whose passion for the game exceeds anything I've seen anywhere else. Lock this thread if you want, ignore it. Think; "That drunken fat fool has been to his local again" if you like. But the point remains the same. The World Championship may be the perfect event, but because it has found it's perfect home. No other tournament has done this. Changing the name of the Grand Prix, and shortening matches don't change rubbish in the long run. I would doubt Glasgow has the same affinity for the tournament, that Sheffield has for the Worlds. Moving a tournament to Germany is good, but leave it in the same place in Germany for twenty years, in a city that is begging to keep the tournament, then you'll see what I mean.
It's not a dinosaur sense of traditionalism that keeps the snooker in Sheffield. It's the fact that Sheffield and snooker are so close to being the same thing, it can't leave. Rant over.
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