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Lurgan snooker chief to rescue as shoeless Ronnie O'Sullivan socks it to his opponent at World Championships

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 24/04/2015

Sole survivor: Ronnie O’Sullivan plays in his socks in the Snooker World Championship
Sole survivor: Ronnie O’Sullivan plays in his socks in the Snooker World Championship
Sole survivor: Ronnie O’Sullivan plays in his socks in the Snooker World Championship
Ronnie O'Sullivan wearing shoes
Tournament director Mike Ganley with his late dad Len, a former snooker referee

Ronnie O'Sullivan is one of the best in the world at getting out of a tight spot. But when snookered by the rule book, it helps to have the son of Northern Ireland's most respected referee standing by - even in "stinky" shoes .

The bad boy of snooker didn't realise that he had broke the dress code when he removed his uncomfortable shoes during the first round of the World Championship.

As the 'Rocket' circled the baize in his sock soles, quick-thinking tournament director Mike Ganley came to the rescue. Mike is the son of the late Len Ganley from Lurgan, who refereed four World Snooker Championship finals.

In an unusual first, Mike prevented the 39-year-old player earning an early exit by lending him his own shoes.

The shoes did the trick and O'Sullivan announced later that Ganley's shoes felt "just great".

Last night Mike downplayed the incident to the Belfast Telegraph.

He said: "I came into the arena when I noticed that Ronnie was wearing his socks to warn him that he was breaking the dress rules.

"Ronnie came out and asked if what size shoes I wore.

"When I told him they were a size eight, he asked to borrow them - so I handed them over.

"He played for another three frames so I made do without my shoes for about 45 minutes and I got them back when it was over.

"Yes, it was one of the most unusual incidents that I've dealt with in all my years at the tournament."

After showing disappointing form in the early frames, O'Sullivan ended up winning the match 10-3 against qualifier Craig Steadman to secure a place in round two of the World Championship in Sheffield.

He's currently number two in the tournament rankings.

Afterwards, O'Sullivan told the BBC: "I've got no fashion sense at all. I had the last ones for 10 years and just didn't want to get rid of them.

"But I lost them and had to buy a new pair but they were bashing my feet. I had to take them off, I couldn't wear them."

He added: "I didn't want to play in my socks but I didn't want to play in those shoes either, so I was just happy for anyone to give me any footwear that felt comfortable."

He laughed: "I got a pair of Mike Ganley's stinky old shoes but, you know what - they felt great."

Young fan Aaron Crosby from Lincoln was lucky to be given the offending shoes after the match by the snooker star.

Mike Ganley is head of World Snooker Ltd and has been tournament director of the World Professional Snooker and Billiards Association Ltd for the last 14 years.

His father Len was one of the biggest names and personalities in world snooker as a referee, although he was an accomplished player in his own right in his younger days.

The former bus driver and milkman died at the age of 68 in 2011.

Background

Len Ganley refereed four World Snooker Championship finals between 1983 and 1993, including 1990 when Stephen Hendry became the youngest world champion. One of his big career highlights for Northern Ireland snooker fans was when he refereed the 1983 UK Snooker Championship final between Alex Higgins and Steve Davis.

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