First of all, I have absolutely nothing against Jimmy, that couldn't be further from the truth. When I began watching snooker in 1999 at the age of just 7, one of my earliest and fondest memories of this sport that I've come to love are of White. The wonderful atmosphere and reception this great character got whenever he walked into the arena at the Irish Masters told you this guy was something special, a total one-off. Loved by all, a buzzing personality and a great game to boot.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, I missed the great years of White. He was my favourite player from an early age, so if I had to live through those cruel world final defeats, I don't know what I'd have done. But it's clear to see that, in spite of his failures, Jimmy brought an awful lot into the lives of snooker fans. The belief that this would be his year at last, every year. Not to mention his beautifully attacking approach to snooker. Not all memories of White are those black days. His famous banana shots at the Masters, his UK win in 1992, the Crucible maximum, beating Hendry at the 1998 World Championship. So many great moments
I can't say I got anything like the wonderful excitement in the build-up to a World Championship like the 90's Jimmy White fans. But I suppose I got some sense of it in 2004. Although it was awful match, Jimmy beating the late Paul Hunter in the 2004 Players' Championship remains one of my great memories. He had also made the European Open final earlier on that year, so Jimmy came to the Crucible with his best chance in years. He was as short as 25/1 to take the title. Maybe some hoped that this would be his 'Goran' moment. Yet we all knew better. Typically, he lost 10-8 in the opening round.
In 2006, Jimmy's 10-4 defeat at the hands of David Gray saw him drop out of top 32, and he's been languishing ever since. He got a wildcard to the 2007 Masters, but he was humiliated by Matthew Stevens 6-1. He's now the World Number 53, which I find almost insulting to a player as good as Jimmy.
Although the Whirlwind has won two events this year, they were minor ones, and I don't think we should get too carried away by it. The fact that he's chosen a rubbish reality tv show over Snooker's second most important tournament shows that his career is well over. He knows he won't get too far.
Yet many snooker fans struggle to move on. They talk of the glory days, when Werbeniuk, Higgins, Thorne, Taylor Davis, Johnson & White roamed the snooker landscape. I've no doubt they were glorious days for the sport, but they need to be consigned to history.
Perhaps Jimmy is that real tangible link that people have with the 80's and 90's. I'm sure that many people would love to see the Whirlwind at the Masters. In fact, I myself would love to see him cueing up at Wembley. But would that be the wisest decision? It's a real head over heart issue. We have got to move on. Liang Wenbo is probably the obvious choice, and deservedly so. I don't expect as much from Wenbo as others do, but he's definitely one of the future generation, and has shown how good he can be. Crucially, he made a ranking final this year.
It's time to make the wise decision. It would be disappointing to see a young player like Wenbo shunned for a player of the past like White. It would be disappointing for snooker's biggest potential market.
We all love Jimmy, but should he be given the Wildcard? It's a no for me.
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