Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Fatty Facesitter

Fatty Facesitter's Crucible Diary

Recommended Posts

So originally I was going to do this daily, and I've been roped in to do a lot of extra stuff hence the lack of an update. BUT...

Quater Finals/Semi-Finals

Because I've been fannying about since the last entry, a lot has changed in the snooker landscape.

The quarter final victors were thus - 

John-Higgins-snooker-609067.jpg.6e74fcf6e7d0d33386458750e9dc4883.jpg

John Higgins knocked out Neil Robertson in what I think it would be fair to say was a shock result, despite Higgins' resume and in particular his Crucible credentials. Robertson had been having an excellent second half of the season, winning several trophies, sorting his life out off the table and giving it some series beans on the baize. Higgins, by contrast, was so disillusioned and, frankly, fucking terrible earlier in the season he almost retired. The table played atrociously, Robertson couldn't build any big breaks, and the Higgmeister General made him pay the price. Higgins always turns it on at the Crucible. I'd compare him to something like The Undertaker - he's not as quick as he used to be and sometimes his matches are absolute death, but he stills gets the big pop and once in every few moves he looks something resembling his former self. 

68136.jpg.d68ee93c90f77bd0043e61d00297a29f.jpg

Judd Trump absolutely battered Stephen Maguire. Trump was poor in his first round match and for most of his second round match against Ding Junhui, but since the final session of the Ding match he's been playing superbly. The new favourite to take the title with Robbo's exit. Maguire, ever the top professional, was asked in the press conference to describe his performance in one word. "Shit" was the reply. 

Gary_Wilson_at_Snooker_German_Masters_(Martin_Rulsch)_2014-01-30_01.thumb.jpg.ed216b369687941fed08f1cb46aa8c06.jpg

Gary Wilson beat Ali Carter, and now the north east has a new Gazza to get behind. Wilson is one of the most cool, calm and collected customers on and off the table I've ever seen. Absolutely nothing fazes him whatsoever. Carter's no dummy and put in a great showing, but Wilson's journey has turned into a brilliant underdog story. A lot of people talk about him being an ex-cabbie. What you might not know is that he's also been a waiter, a delivery driver and probably all sorts more while he was battling to get back to the professional ranks. And now, following this run to the semi finals, he's guaranteed a minimum of a cool hundred thou. 

david-gilbert-snooker-crucible_3370104.jpg.1eed62ff59a937160a1d9305540ea8c1.jpg

Speaking of brilliant underdog stories, David Gilbert, another player who fell off the tour years ago only to battle his way back through sheer determination and willpower, has beaten Kyren Wilson to set up a massive clash with Higgins. Gilbert is another likeable lad, completely non-media trained and all the better for it. 

Practice Tables

At first I was a bit miffed at all the extra duties that had befallen me. I like to work hard, but then again I also like the free supply of crisps, biscuits and Pepsi on supply in the press centre, so to be taken out of my little snooker sanctuary was initially a little disconcerting. My mood soon changed, as I got to spend lots of time in the Crucible practice room. Far from being a closed shop, interestingly players actually prefer that environment to be busy. Ex-players that are here as pundits wander around and chat to them, there are TVs everywhere showing what's going on in the arena next door. It's basically like stepping back into a club environment for them. It's been a privilege watching them up close, honing their craft, doing their thing. I play pool in the Graduate one evening, thinking I'll play incredibly well after watching the various masterclasses I've been treated to. Of course I still lose every single time I play. 

I've already professed my love for Hazel. There was an off-camera moment I saw which I thought was really touching. Gary Wilson was packing up after practicing, and Hazel went up to him. I've worked on various jobs in the past where on-screen talent/personalities have sucked up to guests, charge in for selfies and ramble about all sorts of shite. Hazel calmly walks up to him, takes his hand, says congratulations and that she was absolutely delighted for him and his family. They hug, not in the awkward professional way, but as if he was having a meaningful embrace with his auntie. Gary asks if they need to do anything for TV, hence why she came over, but no, she simply wanted to wish him well and make sure he was ok. Probably doesn't read like much (I'm not exactly Astro Hollywood when it comes to literary genius), but for some reason it really stuck with me. I was already hopelessly in love with Hazel before, now it's tearing me apart that we aren't together. 

Semis

So the semis run for THREE DAYS because of the way they've split up the different sessions and the like. That means two days where matches don't finish, which actually means there aren't a huge amount of people around in the press centre - it's a much calmer, tranquil place and much less crowded. It's become very much my natural habitat. In-between sessions I've been able to amass a new high break on Snooker 19 - Drilling home my first century with a 105 on amateur aim. I've made a Crucible century! 

David Gilbert has the best entrance in snooker. Better than Martin Gould coming out to Triple H's music, better than owt. The music is Insomnia by Faithless, which has basically become the unofficial anthem for the tournament, and all the pensioners in the crowd CLAP TO THE BEAT as he enters. It's Snooker trying to be cool, and being so uncool that it becomes cool by default. 

The Graduate, a pub not far from the Crucible, is usually the after-work establishment of choice. I get chatting to some of the staff and also Dave Hendon, fellow snooker nerd and a really good egg. What amazes me is how much snooker is literally their lives. I work across different sports, for which I'm very grateful and I love the variety of. But these guys cover virtually the whole tour, heading out to all the different destinations, play the game in their spare time, all sorts. They quite literally live in the snooker bubble. A lot of them have practically been living in a hotel room in Sheffield for a month - keep in mind that there were qualifiers before the first round proper. I absolutely LOVE the sport, but I think short bursts are the key to my enjoyment of it, otherwise I think I'd just be sick of the sight of it all. However, it doesn't stop me admiring their dedication to the beautiful game.

In many respects I think there are a lot of similarities between wrestling and snooker fandom. In wrestling there are so many promotions kicking around and so many different ways to watch it. Same with Snooker - there are so many tournaments now and it's become quite easy to follow them online. Each profession has its old stars that just won't fuck off. Each profession has eccentric fans that live in a bubble. Like Wrestlemania, the World Championship final is watched by millions of people every year, who wouldn't normally watch, as an annual tradition They have matches that can turn into absolute shitfests, then there are matches that are magical and remind of why you fell in love with it all in the first place. 

Amidst all the semi final madness, the record number of centuries is broken for the tournament. So far in this tournament I've seen the longest frame, biggest shock and now the most centuries in Crucible history. Not a bad one to call your first. 

The semis are cracking contests as expected. Wilson hangs in against Trump for the first two sessions, and Gilbert keeps ahead of Higgins. Surely we're not in store for an all-underdog final? I think about the chaos this will potentially cause, how far ratings would potentially dip, how many non-snooker lovers who only tune in once a year for the final. But I watch both of them play and think of how good it could actually be in terms of the quality of their play. 

Sadly, it's not to be. Trump gradually wears down Wilson to make the final for the first time since 2011. Wilson's had a brilliant tournament and you hope he comes back and it isn't a one-off - he deserves a good run on next year's tour if nothing else. 

But by far the most heartbreaking loss is Gilbert losing to Higgins. Gilbert looked incredibly nervous, even when he was playing well early in the match, at times looking the anxiety of a stage of this calibre getting the better of him. However, that only endeared him more to the Crucible crowd and he responded in kind with a great performance. But Higgins dug in, slowed down the pace with safety play - wrestling's equivalent of rest holds - and gradually closed the gap, pipping to the post in brutal fashion in the decider. There are tears in the press room. Gilbert cries on his BBC interview and in his press conference, not of disappointment but of his pride in even coming this far. Once he composes himself, he states a line in his press conference which I think I'll take away with me and remember "It's time to pack the cue away, and have a beer." A new metaphor for my insignificant life to abide by. 

So the final is a repeat of 2011, although Higgins and Trump are almost like two completely new players by this point in their lives and careers. The old gunslinger Higgins against the heir to the throne in Judd Trump. It's going to be biblical!

file-8.jpeg

Edited by Fatty Facesitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can’t stand Judd Trump and not a big fan of Higgins either so it’s the worse possible final for me. Enjoyed the tournament overall just such a shame Wilson and Gilbert fell at the final hurdle, even one of them would’ve given me someone to route for in the final whereas now it’s just a case of not watching it.

Big tournament for up and coming players mind, future of the sport is in good hands.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not a fan of Judd Trump the man, but as a player, it's great to see him finally mature and come good. That might be one of the most impressive sessions of snooker from one player I've ever seen. Right up there with Ronnie at his best.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Chilly McFreeze said:

Not a fan of Judd Trump the man, but as a player, it's great to see him finally mature and come good. That might be one of the most impressive sessions of snooker from one player I've ever seen. Right up there with Ronnie at his best.

Yeah, he was Ronnie-esque at times, very casually being very amazing. Does Ronnie also do the wizened safety play? He was able to flit between the two and his decision making was impeccable. Quite astonishing, really. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, hallicks said:

Yeah, he was Ronnie-esque at times, very casually being very amazing. Does Ronnie also do the wizened safety play? He was able to flit between the two and his decision making was impeccable. Quite astonishing, really. 

Ronnie can play safety when he wants to. He can basically do what he wants with the cue ball. Depends what mood you catch him in really (much like his entire game.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Chilly McFreeze said:

Ronnie can play safety when he wants to. He can basically do what he wants with the cue ball. Depends what mood you catch him in really (much like his entire game.)

Aye, it's been a while since I watched regularly. Ronnie's just so effortless when he's in the zone, I think he's more natural than Trump. But Trump over this weekend, focused and zen-like, was almost equal. 

I'm not sure About Hazel Irving saying it was the greatest final in history. Yes, Trump was amazing but "greatest final" doesn't necessarily equate highest standard of snooker. But thats me being petty. /gripe. I've really enjoyed the bits I've seen this year. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, hallicks said:

I'm not sure About Hazel Irving saying it was the greatest final in history. Yes, Trump was amazing but "greatest final" doesn't necessarily equate highest standard of snooker. But thats me being petty. /gripe. I've really enjoyed the bits I've seen this year. 

Yeah, Williams/Higgins from last year was a better final for starters (imo) and then you've got Selby/O'Sullivan, Murphy/Stevens, the last Hendry/White final where the Whirlwind missed a black and back to the obvious choice of Davis/Taylor.  And as well as Trump played was it as great a performance as Davis' dismantling of John Parrott?  Hazel also kept reiterating that Higgins reaching three finals in a row hadn't been done since Hendry and White, somehow forgetting O'Sullivan did it (2012-2014) and something none of the pundits corrected her on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm too young to remember Davis/Taylor, so Hendry/White would be the one for me. I'm not a massive fan of Jimmy, but I was behind him because my glory hunting brother was a big Hendry mark. I remember it being such a regulation black he missed. Ahh, if there's one thing we Brits can get behind, it's glorious failure. 

I'm sure @Fatty Facesitter corrected her privately about the three consecutive finals thing once the broadcast went off the air. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can’t be arsed with snooker but these updates have been that good, I ended up watching the final. And I’m glad I did.

Made up seeing not just this thread, but your Facebook updates, @Fatty Facesitter.

I remember when you were starting out with your job all those years ago so it’s boss to see you in your element at events like this. A UKFF feel-good story.

5466E8A7-7A5E-48A7-BFE5-AD61298D848A.thumb.jpeg.d70c8d077037b77c5fe00f727623a303.jpeg

In off the red.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It started out looking like it could have been the greatest final ever, but then Trump seemed to find another gear and left Higgins standing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/8/2019 at 8:56 PM, Frankie Crisp said:

Can’t be arsed with snooker but these updates have been that good, I ended up watching the final. And I’m glad I did.

Made up seeing not just this thread, but your Facebook updates, @Fatty Facesitter.

I remember when you were starting out with your job all those years ago so it’s boss to see you in your element at events like this. A UKFF feel-good story.

In off the red.

You'll do for me, Frankie Crisp¬†ūüėė

I know this is massively delayed - the two days of the final and the immediate aftermath left me completely flummoxed and then I was straight back on the road on other jobs. I have now finally returned to my humble abode! 

Final Weekend!

It's a tight old turnaround from the completion of the semi-finals on Saturday night. Once the reaction is filed, you basically have next to no time to get your preview content together for the final itself, because Snooker is a cunt like that.

I don't sleep a wink - my mind is trying to keep the various plates spinning for all the items I need to work on. I get to the Crucible early to take advantage of the lighting quick press room wifi. There are IT folk fiddling with cables as I walk in. I know straight away that the internet's gone and my heart sinks. I stare at my mounting to do list, and I feel like just smashing my laptop to pieces. One of my hard-drives has a connection issue now as well.

You know there are some days where, inexplicably, you just wake up in a shit mood and it can take you hours to snap out of it? For whatever reason, this is one of those mornings. 

In all this time, I haven't once taken stock of the fact that I've just entered the Crucible, the sodding CRUCIBLE for the World Snooker Championship final. The big one. The only trophy that in all honesty has any long-lasting significance in the sport. Yes, a UK Championship win is a big deal, The Masters is also a cracking event with a star-studded history. There are even huge events in China now with outrageous prize money compared to other tournaments. But this, THIS is the one. And because I've woken up in a shit mood, admittedly haven't planned things out properly, left my snooze on too many times rather than get up immediately and attack the day, I'm 1-0 down. 

I finally make some headway, and then I need to head into the actual arena itself to get a couple of bits. Even heading towards the arena doors I'm still in a foul mood and I'm not fully comprehending where I'm actually heading. I go through a non-descript set of double-doors. I'm by what I think is a storage portion of the arena - it's kind of a crooked corridor. There's a small curtain and I can see camera wires and a few other bits poking out behind and around it. I think, great, I'll leave a couple of bits here and crack on. 

I walk through the curtain. And there it is.

file2.thumb.jpeg.35503347d8ea9c00632413cb728c9970.jpeg

I've just done the whole walk through the players entrance and out into the main arena and I didn't have the foggiest. I'd only been up in the stands previously and through most of the media areas backstage, but I hadn't actually walked out onto the arena floor itself. And I can honestly tell you, to me, it looked fucking breathtaking. 

I took a second to sit in the press seats, which are just either side of the tunnel about halfway down the small set of stairs. I've pulled some big hours on the job and a lot of extra items not originally in my brief. All gladly, because I'm lucky enough to be doing something I thoroughly enjoy, but it's easy to forget that sentiment once you've been doing it a while and to lose a bit of perspective. 

I had the entire arena to myself. It wasn't long - probably about two minutes before the table fitters came in to do some last minute checks. But my spirits were instantly lifted. All the memories of why I fell in love with this bonkers game came flooding back again. If you don't focus on the mad blue BetFred branding adorning the perimeter of the playing area, the Crucible seats are still the same dark-goldy colour they've always been. And although it's not the original, having a red carpet is how I vividly remember first seeing it on the box. As far as I was concerned, I was sitting in the same place I'd always dreamed of coming to and little had changed. I'll never get to play a proper game there, but I did feel like I'd finally arrived at a destination, both geographically and metaphorically, in my life after years of chasing it. I'd found my mind's new happy place. 

I reflected on what had been a pretty tough start to the year. Without getting into too much detail, there's been some illness in my family, a couple of close friends have left work, which meant not only had I lost my hombres, but there was added pressure with lots of extra jobs coming in where I had to stretch myself quite thin, to the point where I didn't think I'd be able to handle the workload, especially with everything happening at home.

Luckily, everything on that front had taken a positive turn not long before I headed to Sheffield, and in that moment in the arena I completely stopped thinking about work, and again thought about how lucky I was to have a chance to come here. It was just a boss experience. I called my parents, shed a quick tear, and cracked on. 

20190320163002_113.jpg.fe867d548e02df2183caba5d49608208.jpg

I'm about to head back when Leo Scullion - the referee for the final - comes in. He kindly asks if I'll take a quick snap of him by the table on his mobile. That Leo is even reffing the final is an incredible story in itself. Having been diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago, he tells me it was very much touch and go if he'd be around at all. Thankfully, he's potted that illness and he's been in remission for five years. An absolute sweetheart of an old Scot and everyone on the tour literally couldn't be happier for him, and quite right too. 

4000.jpg.c2b849c0f1b0bc9d69d426f7a8261394.jpg

The Match

Apologies for taking a brief personal aside above - now for what you came for. The match. Higgins vs Trump. Old school vs new school. 

The very first session sets the tone for what's to come. Judd wins the first two, Higgins claws one back with a fabulous century. Trump then replies with a century of his own to make it 3-1. Absolute Snooker Cajones. 

They trade centuries across the first session and it's 4-4 after the first. In the second, the impressive Trump starts to make real headway and massively increases the gap. What started off as a thrilling contest where they couldn't be separated, scoring century after century, was now turning into one incredible individual performance from Trump, who was playing in full on Super Saiyan mode, ascending to a new level on the big stage. Finally, after years of being labelled as a bottler and someone who wouldn't become a world champion, Judd was in full flow, standing on the verge of history. It was a true sight to behold. I mean, the absolute state of it (skip to 1:17!)

 

The third session on the 17th and final day of a sensational snooker odyssey doesn't disappoint. Higgins has a mountain to get anywhere near to touching distance of the Juddernaut. So of course he goes for a 147 break out of nowhere in the very first frame, because fuck Trump, that's why. 

 

Ok, so it didn't come off, but a great effort all the same.

This is the closest I've seen the fat Scottish bastard look to his old self. Yes, he'd made the last two World Championship finals. But not playing like this. Not like someone who effectively looked reborn - playing like the John Higgins of old at his brilliant best. Looking at his best in an age, he barely put much a foot wrong in the third session.

However, neither did Trump, who also went for a 147 attempt of his own only to miss out on one of the final reds. This tournament at times has been impeccable - the only thing missing to put the icing on top of the cherry on top of the cake? A maximum break. 

However, something happened during Judd's maxi attempt that almost went completely unnoticed by the rabid Crucible faithful - Judd had just recorded the 100th century break of the tournament. Even by modern day standards, that's an incredible statistic and it's raised the bar for the sport as a whole considerably. 

But when it comes to raising the bar, Trump has timed his peak performance exceptionally. 

 

And so it ended. The Stone Cold Mark Williams era concludes. The Judd Trump era begins. Good for the game? Absolutely. Does he deliver explosive interviews and press conferences? No. Not yet. But finally, a credible heir to the Ronnie O'Sullivan throne has emerged. You could argue the case that Judd should've have done this many years ago, but the modern game is arguably more different and more gruelling than it's ever been - which makes his renewed dedication to perfecting his craft all the more admirable. 

 

You can't call it the greatest final of all time. Was it up there? I think there's a case to be made for inclusion high up the list purely because of the amount of centuries, also some of the testes tingling shots on display. Maybe Hazel was swept up in the emotion. I definitely was. And if you think I'm going to disagree with her, then you and I need to have a right good sort out. 

I fire out my reaction pieces as the staff start taking down the press room. There are handshakes and hugs all round as reporters from all different mediums and walks of life go their separate ways. I leave the backstage exit door which is just off Norfolk street. Appropriate. 

file-10.thumb.jpeg.c9198a63b011fbe376103652cd927b46.jpegfile1-1.thumb.jpeg.0ab999532cb6ef90e277eb9812d3ee4c.jpeg

I look back at the Crucible for the last time. You never forget your first. I'll certainly never forget mine. 

Fatty out. 

*Drops cue*

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Fatty Facesitter Great stuff.  I used to be a huge snooker fan but ditching being a pothead in my 30s severely curtailed my time spent watching telly.  Your writeups really inspired me to watch the whole 2 weeks this time though, and it didn't disappoint.

As someone who's not really watched properly for the best part of a decade, it surprised me to see Higgins playing this well.  After all the issues he's had, he played some genuinely excellent snooker this week.  Do you think he'll get one more World title?  It kind of feels like when White was still making semis and finals but not quite having the stamina to get over the line any more.

First time I've really seen Trump play, and he does look the business.  His long potting was excellent (but everyone seems to have that these days).  

I got a question for you - what, in your opinion, is the reason that there are no women snooker players operating at the top level?  It seems like the sort of sport that wouldn't have a gender imbalance as, let's be honest, you don't exactly have to be athletic to play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My mobile wont let me copy and paste.

Sad news emerging about Willie Thornevwho announced in February that he was battling Leukaemia.

Last week it was reported that he was too weak to stand or feed himself then todays news is that he has been placed into a medically induced coma as he is fighting three separate respiratory conditions.

A very popular snooker personality he has had more than his share of life issues over the years.

Hope he can pull through as he is only 66.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...