I have literally sat in The Crucible for 11 or 12 hour shifts, with only the odd mid-session or 10 minute between sessions for a break. You eat a fried breakfast, then that has to keep you going until you can grab the odd bag of crisps or whatever is quick for you to eat. I can get back to my hotel room having done nothing all day but watch endless snooker, endless men potting balls, you lie down thinking; "Tomorrow morning I get up and do all this again..."
I always ask myself why I do it, you can get enclosed in a bubble. To do this for two or three days in a row can seem almost sadomasochistic when you are doing it. You're in a constant state of having pins and needles, and your back/bottom throbbing from sitting on an uncomfortable seats. (That's the only reason, I promise.)
But anybody who has ever been to live snooker, and gone through these experiences will know why I do it. I do it because of the rush. I have been to live football, rugby union and boxing matches. And nothing has quite been as addictive as going to live snooker. It's like a drug, you come back feeling beat, and somewhat removed from the rest of the world, and yet the next day at work, instead of doing anything you are checking out other snooker events. What's nearest you? How long will it take me on the train? How much is it? Can I afford it?
A few years ago I read a book by that Adrian Chiles guy. I support West Brom, and somebody brought me the book for Christmas. All he had done is gone to every West Brom game over a season, watching them get relegated from the Premier League, and chronicled his feelings and the conversations with the people he met. He couldn't understand why he was so obsessed by West Brom. Why he was so happy for a week following the times they won. Why he didn't want to talk to anybody after a game they lost, and wouldn't recover until the day of the next game and the anticipation took over. He couldn't understand why he paid good money every week to go to the games, but find himself starring at anything but the game, because he was too tense to watch it. But he did. The book hoped to answer these questions, and what makes a fan. It didn't, it was just an excuse to write about funny characters he met at football matches. But it was worth a read.
It always struck me that writing a similar book for snooker might be worth doing, even only three people read it. I have met some very interesting characters travelling around watching snooker, and it strikes me that with crowd size down, that people that travel to these events must be the weirdest and most wonderful group of freaks and heroes.
Or am I just romanticising the game too much? I was wondering if anybody had got any interesting stories of people they've met at games, run ins with famous snooker personalities or any insight into what makes somebody so passionate about snooker they'd sit in a small uncomfortable chair, in a dark room watching other people play a game, rather then bothering to learn to play it themselves.... What do people think?
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