Belfast Telegraph

How Mark Allen’s little girl inspired his dramatic Crucible victory

By Anne Madden

World Championship snooker contender Mark Allen has described how his young daughter inspired his dramatic first round win at the Crucible this week.

In scenes reminiscent of Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins winning the World Snooker Championship nearly 30 years ago, the Northern Ireland man embraced his four-year-old daughter after getting through to the last 16 in Sheffield on Wednesday night.

The Antrim player came from three frames behind with just four to play to win against Welshman Matthew Stevens.

The 25-year-old roared with delight as he sealed his place in the last 16 and lifted his daughter Lauren, who had been watching from the front row.

“That’s for you, babe!” he told the four-year-old, who’s become a regular at snooker competitions.

Her mum, Reanne Evans, is the women’s world champion.

Allen described his win as “the biggest of his career”.

“To win a final frame here at the Crucible against a player of Matthew’s quality in front of a packed house with my little girl watching in the front row — it doesn’t get any better than that,” he said.

“You think to yourself that you don't want to let her down, even though she'll probably not remember it when she grows up.

“It’s great to have her there, full stop, whether I win or lose. I haven’t got to see her that much over the last few years. That’s definitely what’s important to me.”

“You know what your priorities are when you see your child in the front row,” he added.

The win is a big boost for Allen, who revealed last month that he is battling depression.

After a glittering amateur career the pressure mounted on Allen to become the next Alex Higgins or Dennis Taylor.

However, he was in danger of falling out of the top 16 having never won a major tournament — and losing in six semi-finals.

“The last few months have been hard on and off the table,” Allen revealed. “Since the German Masters I could count the number of times I've picked up my cue on one hand. I had no interest in the game and snooker was the last thing on my mind. But I am a fighter on and off the table. I came here with no pressure because every round is a bonus.”

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, his father Ronnie said: “Lauren definitely inspired him. She was very well-behaved and knew when to clap and cheer. He told himself ‘one frame at a time’, and he got into a rhythm. His opponent Matthew Stevens showed great sportsmanship. It was a great result for Northern Ireland.”

Mark faces Londoner Barry Hawkins today and if he succeeds he will go through to the quarter-finals next Tuesday.

The final takes place over May 1 and 2.

Profile

Antrim snooker player Mark Allen was hailed as snooker’s next prodigy after a stunning amateur career. He is a former Northern Ireland champion at under-14, under-16 and under-19 levels. As a professional player, however, the 25-year-old has struggled to emulate his local snooker heroes, having never won a major tournament. He has a four-year-old daughter with his ex-partner, reigning women’s world snooker champion Reanne Evans.

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