The new season is almost upon us once again and this year like last I am
going to make some predictions. Last year I predicted
would have a good year, and he did. This year I see him again improving as
long as he keeps working hard To be honest, if he keeps working hard and
keeps his nose clean he will eventually take over at the very top. Mind
you with Ronnie he is so explosive he could also throw it all away, but I
do not believe he will. I think he is one tough cookie.
I have had letters
from Stephen Hendry
fans who were very upset because I said in my last
column that even if Hendry had played better in the
Embassy final there was
no guarantee he would win. This statement was not made to take anything
away from the superhuman talent and acheivements of Hendry, it was made to
give Ken the praise
he deserved and to not take anything away from his win.
However, I believe it will be impossible for Hendry to carry on playing at
such a high level. By this I mean that his best form was so good that he
cannot possibly keep playing like that. Ridiculous as it sounds he is past
his best. Now I am not being stupid enough to say he will not win anything
but I am saying he has earned a lot of money and has acheived far more than
any player past or present. Hendry is of course the best player ever to
strike a ball, but who does he compare himself to? Who can he learn from?
What has he got left to prove? This is the reason why he can only go down
now. He will still win tournaments, but not as many, but I believe he will
not be number one for more than one more season. Having said all this it
is only my opinion and he may prove me totally wrong, but I will say, more
and more players attack him and more believe they can beat him (especially
the younger ones).
The new qualifying school started this year. Sadly because I no longer
manage Mark King I was not able to attend the qualification phase. From
what I hear many players preferred it, as they had far less games to play
to qualify. Mind you I am also sure when all the beaten players realise
they will be playing B league matches for the rest of the season they will
have a moan. Overall snooker took a giant step this year and it will pay
off in the end. Some of the names who qualified are worth a mention,
Australia may have a new player to cheer on at the final stages of
tournaments and believe me he is quite different to steady Eddie Charlton.
He is young Quentin Hann from Melbourne, I have mentioned him before in my
articles as he always seems to attract attention wherever he go's. I used
to take him to tournaments years ago when he was just 12 years old. To be
honest I always believed he had the talent and the nerve to go all the way.
He is very hot headed but if he is on a mission he is breathtaking. In
fact he is my tip to be the rookie of the year. I heard while he was
playing a final frame of a final qualifying round at Plymouth he needed the
pink and black to win and take his place on the circuit. He went for the
pink and missed by a long way but ended up safe. He then picked up the
white and told his oponent he conceded! Like I say, hot head. Lucky for
him he qualified in a later phase.
Other players of note to watch are
Graham Dott from Scotland. For me he is very solid and good under pressure.
Paul Hunter of England is definitely top 16 bound. My old friend Mark King
has a shout of going in to the top 16. However, he like any other player who
wants to grasp a precious top sixteen place, will have to work harder than
he has ever worked. In fact to make it to the very top in any sport you
have to make sacrifices in all parts of your life, even the people you hang
around with. If you mix with the wrong people and allow bad habits to form,
you will never make it. There seems to be so much pressure on these young
players, but if you are so lucky that you can play a game to become very
rich then you need more than talent to get through. There were also
surprises. One young man who qualified was Peter Mc Cullagh from Ilford. He
has done very well to qualify. Mind you how far he will get only time will
tell. For me he is not ruthless enough to succeed.
Hopefully from this year we will see more overseas players coming through
as they will have entry from their own qualifying schools. Regular readers
of my column will know that I feel it is vital for the overseas players to
be given every opportunity to come through for the growth of the game.
Diana Princess Of Wales
I am sure all of you have heard of the tragic death of the princess of
Wales, and whilst I know it has nothing to do with snooker I am compelled
to write a few words. I like many people have never really taken much
interest in the Royal family, however Diana was the only one who I could
say was just like the ordinary people. Despite this she was still a very
special person. Whilst she was alive I always would see her on TV working
for one good cause or another. But I think like many other people I
realised too late just what a fantastic effort she made. There will never
be anyone else so caring, who could give so much to those who have so
little. I am very pleased that people are making such a huge effort to pay
their respects. My thoughts are with the young princes, especially William,
as he will ultimately now take all the media attention that killed his
mother. I only hope that the vermin called the papperazzi leave him in
peace, although I know they will not. Perhaps people who buy these sleazy
newspapers which publish the garbage which the papperazzi take, will
boycott them and refuse to line the pockets of these murderers. (Editor's note: As of
September 5th 1997, no official
ruling has been made regarding who's to blame in this tragic accident.) My
thoughts are also with Mohammed Al-Fayed who has lost a wonderful son Dodi,
this tragic event has touched everyone and I hope we all take an example
from Diana and be more caring towards our fellow man.
To end on a brighter note it does seem that snooker has been getting more
interest from sponsors. Let us hope that this will mean more overseas
events. It is great news that Highland Spring have signed a contract to
support the Scottish Open for the next three years.
If any of you have written to me but not yet recieved a reply, I am sorry
but I have taken a break for a while, but I am back at work now so expect
replies to all of your letters very soon. Please
keep sending your letters, but remember if
you do not agree with what I write it is only a game after all!