Stephen Hendry's Crucible diary: Monday, May 3
May 3 2010 Stephen Hendry
To say I'm shocked about the news that broke over the weekend is an understatement - allegations like these at any time are unwanted but given who is supposedly involved it's unbelievable. It has completely taken the shine off what should be the biggest occasion in our sport.
The Betfred.com World Championship Final began yesterday but you wouldn't have known had you watched or listened to any broadcaster other than the Beeb. There was only one story they were interested in.
The sparkle and sense of occasion that should surround a Crucible final just doesn't seem to be there. For me that's sad for the two players who are now centre stage - if not centre of attention - because they gave everything for 15 days to get this far.
Graeme Dott - my player of the tournament regardless - has battled all sorts to get to where he is today. Beating Peter Ebdon, Stephen Maguire, Mark Allen and Mark Selby to reach the final just shows how well he has played.
Neil Robertson's efforts have taken snooker back on to TV screens in Australia. Fair to say neither of these guys were on anyone's list of favourites to progress to the final. I did mention Neil as a contender but I thought Mark Allen and Ding Junhui were more likely to go the distance.
But still, regardless of what they do, some will only want to talk about something else.
Unfortunately it's nothing new in snooker, and years back I found myself in exactly the same position as Neil and Graeme.
In 1995, the sporting world was shocked with the revelations that Peter Francisco had thrown a match against Jimmy White at the World Championship.
All bets had been laid at a match score of 10-2 - and guess what the final result was?
The snooker authorities had been tipped off by the betting regulators and knew exactly what they should be looking for.
There was a media frenzy in and around The Crucible. Journalists and news crews descended upon Sheffield.
While I knew about the story, I wasn't interested. I just wanted to win the title for a fifth time and I did.
While Francisco is still remembered, the name of my opponent, Nigel Bond, isn't because the limelight was stolen from him.
I'm sure Neil and Graeme only have eyes on that magnificent piece of silverware today. If only everyone else was the same.
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