Surreal experiences at English Open snooker

This year's English Open snooker was held at K2 Crawley

Contrary to Ronnie O’Sullivan, a day spent at the English Open snooker at K2 Crawley did not smell of urine, but did throw up some surreal experiences.

After winning his English Open snooker first round match on Monday, O’Sullivan did his usual trick of slagging the venue off. The bloke now has to spend a whole week keeping his head down after annoying the Centre’s staff.

Aside from that fuss, there was plenty of other titbits to get stuck into…

What 147?

I’ve been lucky during my attendance at live snooker events. In my first watch at the 2007 Masters, I saw Ding Junhui hit a maximum 147 break. This time I can tell people I was there when another one happened. But on this occasion didn’t see any of it. There has to date, now only been 142 of them in snooker history.

It’s possibly a drawback to the eight-table system. Table 1 is for telly, table 2 has the next biggest names, and they filter down the hall through to table 8. This doesn’t just happen at the English Open snooker, but many of the tour events with 128 players in the field.

On Tuesday morning, Thai player Thepchaiya Un-Nooh potted the 15 reds with blacks and cleared the colours for a 147 break in the first frame of his match against Soheil Vahedi. This happened four tables away from me. The first I knew about it was today – exactly 24 HOURS after it took place! Perhaps Barry Hearn’s next innovation for snooker could be the sounding of a klaxon when a maximum is near. Then us fans could destroy all the other players’ rhythm as we hot-foot it like a herd of elephants to the relevant table.

Wattana looking for his car

Taking a lunch time out in my car, a legend of the snooker world appeared in my window. James Wattana of Thailand was No3 in the world back in the 1990s. He had thick, black flowing hair then but ravages of time and missed pots have rendered him greyish now. To see forlorn Wattana as confused as the rest of us when trying to locate his vehicle in a car park is strangely comforting.

Lee Walker holding a toilet door open

True snooker aficionados will know who Lee Walker is. Well he’s not just a Welsh potter. He’s the bloke who kindly held the door for me as I entered the toilets at K2 Crawley. The fact he went 2-1 down in his opener had nothing to do with me – maybe his concentration was off. He surged back to win 4-3 over Jak Jones.

English Open snooker at K2 Crawley

Many players look like schoolchildren

This is not a criticism – just fact. English and Chinese children mainly. It’s good to know the sport is in the capable hands off youth. One such young man turned out to be Alexander Ursenbacher in the food queue at the canteen. If he ever gets big(ger) and famous he won’t be lining up with us commoners.

No1 player in world wears leather jacket

Are leather jackets still a thing? Clearly yes, because Mark Selby was donning one as he immersed himself in his mobile phone. Seeing snooker players in their civvies (casual, civilian clothes) is strange. Any fan knows they only own a black waistcoat, smart shirt and trousers, tidy shoes and bow-tie. Anything else is just plain odd.

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