Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: Not a big queue to replace Crucible king

After 17 gruelling days of sit-downs being interrupted by brief bursts of slow walking and bending over a table, the marathon that is the World Snooker Championships came to a predictable end on Monday evening.

Equally predictable was that Hazel Irvine would show up in a shiny new blouse for the occasion, joined by the suited and booted ranks of former pros who now make up the BBC commentary team, as Ronnie O’Sullivan made light work of Ali Carter.

With a Rocket involved it was all a bit of a damp squib, there were few fireworks and perhaps a comedy clip of Mark Allen having to beat off Kato with his cue would have added a bit of levity to proceedings.

Emotions were sky high though as the evening got underway by paying homage to Stephen Hendry, the man who, as John Parrott said, was ‘the greatest player in the history of our game.’

You could almost hear Ronnie coughing in the background but Hendry, indeed the best ever, got the biggest cheer and then the atmosphere was brought crashing back down to earth by some inane questions from MC Rob Walker, a man destined to ruin countless Olympic events over the summer.

Then it was today’s best player in the world’s turn to take centre stage and in little over an hour the final session was over and you couldn’t help but cast your mind back 30 years to Alex Higgins as Ronnie’s wee lad came out to help him celebrate.

“It’s an endurance test, it’s the equivalent of the Iron Man,” a pooped Ronnie told Hazel afterwards. It’s not, is it? I never remember Geoff Capes turning up in the World’s Strongest Man dressed in a dinner suit.

But let’s not detract from Ronnie’s achievements. “The Rocket has landed for a fourth time, mission accomplished,” ended Hazel, just three behind Hendry |(pictured) who truly was out of this world

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