Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: Hendry fails to go out in baize of glory

You find before you a sad and unhappy man as one of my sporting heroes, Stephen Hendry (pictured), is pondering packing his cue away for good after his exit at the Crucible.

I don’t think I’ve been as sad since I found out that wee Jimmy Krankie wasn’t a wee boy. I mean, who would ever have guessed?

Still if he doesn’t need his cue anymore, then I could find a good use for it by impaling the world’s most annoying man, Rob Walker, on it at Sheffield.

Before each session up he pops with his big shiny face in his shiny grey suit (he gets more wear out of it than Jimmy got out of that blazer) and urges the crowd to go wild to ‘get the boys on the baize’. Before everyone is told to shush by the referee.

Then again he introduces Ronnie O’Sullivan as ‘blink and you’ll miss him’ but that’s nothing to do with how quick he plays, just whether he’ll bother to stay once he shows up.

Tony Knowles was years ahead of his time in this instruction to straddle the table and got into trouble for it, but throughout cue king Hendry’s reign at the top there have been many changes.

Female referees, new versions of the sport, the conveyor belt move from cue to microphone for old players and the emergence of ads on the waistcoats.

Although this isn’t universally appreciated as my much better half was a little confused as to whether Rory McLeod’s name was actually Mr Betfred.

Just as Doug Mountjoy wasn’t Doug Mercantile Credit Classic, or Cliff Thorburn wasn’t Cliff Benson and Hedges Championship, Rory is plain old Mr McLeod, but Hendry is the greatest.

Belfast Telegraph

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