Thursday, 28 April 2016

On the spot

After thirty five plus years of watching on the TV, and over three years living in this great city, on Monday before last I finally went and watched a snooker match at the Crucible.  If I could have told my teenage self this, she would have been so excited. As it was, I was more curious; interested to witness the Crucible atmosphere that the commentators rave about. (I've noticed a marked increase in both commentators' comments and TV features on players singing the praises of the venue as its contract to host the tournament nears renewal with a real possibility of its being relocated to China). I've been to the Crucible before, so I knew how small it was, and did wonder how they fitted two snooker tables in. I was still surprised though to see just how little room for manoeuvre the players have, with possibly no more than three feet between the table and the dividing screen. Add two pairs of TV cameras and a referee, and it really is a very intimate setting. The audience were very much as you might expect, closely resembling if not the players, then, in many respects, the balls.
A first round session on a Monday morning might not be the time to experience the most electric atmosphere but it was still great to be there. And I found when I got to my seat that I had an added bonus. My ticket was for Table 1 - John Higgins v. Ryan Day (I booked a year ago, taking complete pot luck as to who would be playing). On Table 2, Ronnie O'Sullivan was playing Dave Gilbert. How frustrating, I thought, so near and yet so far. But as I took my seat I realized that not only was I looking straight down at Table 1, but that I could see all but the top left hand corner of Table 2! And here is a photo of Ronnie to prove it.
He won that match, but not the next. Had he decided to retire at that point, I could have claimed to see him win his last ever match. But hopefully he will be back. As I write four players are left in the tournament and the semi-finals are about to begin. As the second round began, I organised a sweepstake at work for the final sixteen - and I am delighted to report that the player I drew is one of the 25% to have made it to this stage. So go, Alan 'Angles' McManus, surprise success of the tournament!

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