Ronnie O'Sullivan seems to be completely disreguarded by many boards, and in some ways, they've got a point. I'm not going to stick up for his behaviour. He assaulted Mike Ganley. He made some horrible comments about Stephen Hendry that were entirely unwarranted. He failed a drugs test after the 1998 Irish Masters final. He conceded his UK Quarter-final with Hendry after 5 frames. He made every effort to ruin snooker's boom in China with THAT press conference. And he really struggles to admit when he's been beaten on the day by a better player, far too quick to say things like 'I don't care' and 'I wasn't up for it'. The myth that 'Only Ronnie can beat himself' is entirely untrue. John Higgins has beaten him playing well. Mark Williams has. Steve Davis did so in the 1997 Masters final. Hendry walloped him in 1999 and 2002 when Ronnie was clearly playing very well. And Paul Hunter beat Ronnie in brilliant form at the 2004 Masters final. So no, he can be beaten fair and square.
But I'm not here to talk about the negatives. Whatever his behaviour is like off the table, and at times on the table, I think that Ronnie deserves an awful lot of respect, even if it's just for his quality of play. The guy hasn't had it easy. His Dad's in jail. His mother's been in jail. He's suffered from drug problems and severe depression. And yet, in spite of all this, he has won 3 World Titles, 4 Masters, 4 UK Titles, 22 ranking events and been World Number One on many occasions, including now. Some people point to his Prozac use, in particular to his 2001 World title, but it's an argument I'm really not comfortable with. I'm surprised that Clive Everton questioned it, as he's arguably the most knowledgable and one of the most likeable men in snooker, as I dont agree with him at all. Everton has suffered from depression, but from what I've heard not to the same extent as Ronnie. My question is, would you deny someone with a broken arm a sling? Of course not. Would you deny someone with clinical depression Prozac? You should not.
Ronnie's the third genius we've been blessed with in this game, and I've no doubt he's the best of the three (Alex and Jimmy being the other two). Watch his 128 break against Nigel Bond at the 1996 Masters. Total genius, not even looking at really difficult shots. Think back to his best displays. In 1993 he beat Stephen Hendry at the peak of his powers 10-6 in the UK Final. In 1997 he notched up a 147 break in record time. In 2001 he destroyed most of the opposition to take the World Title. In 2004 he beat Hendry 17-4 in one of the greatest snooker demolitions of all time. In 2005 he slaughtered the ultra-tough John Higgins 10-3 in the Masters final. In 2007 he did the same to Ding. While at the 2008 Worlds, he again humiliated Hendry 17-6, with the 2nd session of that game ranking as the greatest display ever seen in my opinion.
He's had some embarassing losses, but so has Hendry, so has White, so has Higgins, Davis and Williams. It's happened all the greats.
Now, I'm not asking anyone to love Ronnie O'Sullivan, I wouldn't say I'm his number one fan myself. But in years to come, when O'Sullivan's career and maybe even his life ends, I think we should be honoured to tell our children and grandchildren that 'we saw Ronnie O'Sullivan play'. We should enjoy the show while it lasts. Because you only appreciate what you've got when it's gone.
- Posts: 5009
- Joined: 02 October 2009
- Location: Ireland
- Snooker Idol: Ronnie OSullivan
- Highest Break: 49