Kevin Garside: Ronnie Sullivan’s wasted tales of joints and all-night benders reek of teenage desperation
Ronnie O’Sullivan recycles his favourites in purple detail in the story of his life, which is entitled Running, after the much healthier pastime that replaced the booze and other recreational pursuits of his early career.
“When I was having my weekly benders and my private life was in bits, I had a brilliant year professionally,” he said. “I remember getting to every World Championship and thinking, ‘I can’t wait ’til this tournament is over ’cos then there’s no more drug tests, I can go out and smash it’.
“I’d got caught once in my career, but that’s all. I’d get tested between events, and I was trying to judge it perfectly so there’d be no drugs left in my system, but I was pushing my luck. My mum said to me, ‘You are going to get caught soon. You can’t carry on like this’.
“I loved a joint. The only problem with a joint is that one spliff follows another, and another. [I would have] any old drink, it didn’t matter. Throw in a few spliffs. Then at 7am the sun would come up and I’d think, ‘Oh, Jesus, I’ve done it again’. The birds would be tweeting and I’d think, ‘I’m bang in trouble’. At my worst I had to have a joint first thing in the morning just to function. But loads of time snooker got in the way of my benders, rather than the other way round.”
All of this is told with the ebullient enthusiasm of a teenager recounting a first night on the tiles, practised embarrassment barely concealing his pride at being the ultimate snooker “bad boy”. It is all part of the O’Sullivan legend. It is not enough to be the most gifted player of his generation. The narrative has to be embellished with tiresome deeds that emit the aroma of teenage desperation.
O’Sullivan went head-long into print via the Twitter medium with his observations following the match-fixing judgment against Lee that saw the player banned for 12 years. He’s not the only one, was the thrust of O’Sullivan’s message, hastily retracted under the timeless excuse “my comments were taken out of context”.
There is no retraction here. This tome comes without any apology, Ronnie in the raw, take it or leave it. At least, other than in matters of taste, he breaks no law.