Paid Members Fatty Facesitter Posted May 5, 2019 Author Paid Members Share Posted May 5, 2019 (edited) 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 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. 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 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. 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! Edited May 11, 2019 by Fatty Facesitter Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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