I became entranced for the first time in 1999, in an effort to quench my boredom. If I remember right, it was John Higgins who was in action, don't ask me who against, and I was mesmerised almost at once. The colours, the vast cloth, the hushed atmosphere, the satisfying clicks from cue to cueball to object ball and finally the clatter of the pocket. It was almost hypnotic, and thoroughly enthralling. I was transfixed for the rest of the event, and it's stayed that way, never really in doubt. I'll never forget my mom waking me up to tell me that Stephen Hendry had won the title, and I for one was a very happy young man.
My favourite memories of the game? Well, I suppose Matthew Stevens winning the UK Championship in 2003 springs to mind quickly, to be more precise sinking the winning pink from a very tough angle. I thought it would be the first of many ranking titles for my undisputed favourite player, but unfortunately things haven't gone that way for him. Also, Doherty's stunning comebacks throughout the 2003 World Championship, and particularly his semi-final win. As an Irishman, I was very disappointed to not see him take the title, but looking back now I'm happy it was Williams who won out. He was a man posessed that year, and a second World Title was no more than he deserved. Ronnie O'Sullivan was never a favourite of mine until he won me over with a stunning display against the great man Hendry in the 2008 semi-final. It was orgasmic snooker to be a bit crude about it, but it's the only word I can find fit to describe it. I was also very happy to see Neil Robertson win the Championship this year.
My worst memories can be split into two parts. From an on-table perspective, Matthew Stevens losing the 2005 World Final was a hard one to stomach. I was delighted by his progress, and when he faced a little known qualifier in the final, it never even crossed my mind he would lose. At 10-6, it was job done as far as I concerned. Watching Murphy fight back and take a deserved win (if I'm being totally honest with myself) was a gut wrencher. However, the tragic death of Paul Hunter just over a year later highlighted just how meaningless all that was. Hunter was a guy I was lucky enought to meet, a nice bloke and a smashing player. His family and the game lost a great star. I don't think Stevens has been the same since, and his 2007 loss to Murphy was the final nail for him. Recent events surrounding the game have also been a big disappointment, but I will not get into them now.
In terms of playing, I always enjoyed, and by the age of 12 had hit a 49 break on the day we got our Christmas Holidays. Unfortunately, our local club shut down after Christmas, and the 40 minute trip to the next nearest was never going to work. The 49 remains my best effort, and is likely to remain that way for quite some time.
So, what about the rest of you? Any similar experiences? Or any great stories? Please post.
- Posts: 5009
- Joined: 02 October 2009
- Location: Ireland
- Snooker Idol: Ronnie OSullivan
- Highest Break: 49