Snooker is majestic. Each and every professional player is blessed with a certain dignity and grace that other sportspeople, apart from maybe ice skaters, can't muster. Silence is demanded whilst players tinker with the balls on the table, waistcoats must be worn and respect paid to umpires and traditions. You couldn't tell one to "f*** off", anyway. Well you could try. But the snooker God would kill you.
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s been calling for change in the game. He wants more drama. More noise. And if Max Clifford has anything to do with it, he might just get it. But before he does, let us give you reason enough to flick on the BBC to watch men dressed as penguins put coloured balls in pockets.
1/ Ronnie O’Sullivan
Undoubtedly the most exciting thing about snooker (to some, the only exciting thing). He's a dangerous mix of tortured genius and manic depressive who is equally likely to ask the population of China to give him a nosh as he is to play the best snooker anyone’s ever seen or walk out of a match saying he never wants to play ever again. Hated by purists, loved by casual snooker watchers, he's as rock ‘n’ roll as any snooker player could be without being banned from the game completely. His Dad’s in jail for murdering Charlie Kray’s bodyguard. And here's Ronnie making the ultimate break:
And here’s him misbehaving at a Chinese press conference:
Throughout snooker's history, there’ve been some stompers. It rivals darts, in every sense. Observe: Alex “The Hurricane” Higgins. Ding “Enter The Dragon” Junhui. Andy “The Toast of Tavistock” Hicks. Jimmy “The Whirlwind” White. Joe “The Gentleman” Perry. John “Wizard of Wishaw” Higgins. John “King of the Baize” Rea. Ken “Scarface” Doherty. Ray “Dracula” Reardon. Peter “Psycho” Ebdon. Stephen “On Fire” Maguire. Steve “Interesting” Davis. Marco “Hong Kong Fuey” Fu. Nuff said..
3/ The Commentators
More than any other sport, the commentators are crucial in your understanding of what the bloody hell is going on. Try and pick out “frame ball”, spot some “checked side” or call a shot that was “made to look easy” without Willy Thorne, Dennis Taylor, Clive Everton or John Virgo. It's literally impossible. Unless you're an ex-pro, they’re things you cannot know. Which only adds to the joy.
4/ Two-day finals
Although the Masters' final will last for one Sunday only, come April's World Championship and you’ll get an entire Sunday and (hopefully) an entire Bank Holiday Monday of snooker magic. But wait. It’s not boring. You have to approach it the right way. Like Test cricket, accept that it’s there and use it to your own ends. Come and go as you please. Make tea, do some gardening, watch a film, roll an enormous joint, play Fall Out 2 for a bit, then back to the snooker. Crucially, you'll still know what’s going on. No other sport waits for you. Snooker is kind.
5/ Micheala Tabb
She’s a sexy snooker referee. That is all.
6/ Full size snooker tables are incredible things to have in your house
No one has ever told anyone they own a full-size snooker and not been met with a “really? Wow!”. For one, they’re enormous. They look much bigger in real life than they do on tele. For two, they’re incredibly useful for other stuff. Stuff like sex. Nothing is cooler than having sex on a snooker table. It makes having sex on a pool table look like something that people did before they discovered having sex on a snooker table. For three, you only realise how hard snooker actually is, once you play on a full-size table. Harder than basket weaving, is the answer.
7/ It’s something to talk to your Dad about
Let’s face it, there comes a time in every boy's life when you run out of conversation with your Dad. And Dad’s love snooker. In 1985, 18 million people watched the World Championship final between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor. And given that the population of England was around 57 million at the time, it means there’s roughly a 1 in 3 chance that he was watching. Get chatting. Or just watch football instead.