The Fountain #11, June 15th 1997

Hail Super Doc

This year's Embassy world championship was one of the most exciting for years, from start to finish we had the lot, upsets, a maximum from Ronnie, and an unlikely but brilliant champion in Ken Doherty. This is where regular readers will know that I am permitted to say I told you so!! I did predict that Hendry would not win the title this year. Mind you, I really thought it would have been Ronnie in the final. Ronnie for me is the most exciting of all the players. He plays with an abandonment that no other player has ever had. Added to this he produces shots many can only dream of. I have seen Ronnie grow up from a young boy playing in smoke filled snooker rooms. Although he lost to Morgan he still had a big year, in fact he had a very big year. Ronnie has had to cope with so much at such a young age. Many would have broken down and given in, and to be honest there were times that he did come very close. But unlike the Alex Higgins and George Best's of this world he held it together and came through. I know he still has a long road ahead but if he continues to keep fit and work hard then the outlook for him and snooker is bright. The maximum break he made against poor Mick Price was fantastic, it was brilliant as it was simple. It probably was the most perfect max I have ever witnessed. Never out of position and never in doubt, in fact this was a maximum which Ronnie might have been playing in practice. That is what makes him so exciting to watch, to the uneducated watching a match for the first time they would never have guessed that there was L147,000 + L15,000 for the highest break resting on that one break. Keep up the good work Ronnie!!

The big surprise of the tournament had to be Ian Walker. I have seen Ian play, in fact he beat Mark King in a qualifier once. I never would have guessed that he could have gone on to produce such solid snooker. Of course he is a good player but it takes an extremely good player to succeed at the high altar of snooker. Mind you if you have never been to the crucible I am sure you like everyone else thinks the arena is huge, but it is quite small really and the crowd are so close to the table they can almost touch it. The crucible has the habit of either making players who arrive as strong favourites disappear without note, or making outsiders suddenly realise why they have been practicing for so many years. The conquerer of Ian Walker in the quarter finals was one of my personal favourites, Alain Robidoux. Alain has so much class, and to be honest when he arrived some years ago I really thought he would make it big, but then he seemed to lose his way and he came very close to dropping out of the 32. Now though he is like a man on a mission trying to make up for the lost years. He had a marvellous championship, only to be denied by Hendry in the semi. Funny I seem to remember a match some years ago in a world championships when Alain was at his best and he was playing Hendry in the first round I think, and he seemed to have the beating of the young scot, when the referee (I forget who) called a push shot against Alain, of course it was never a push shot and it upset Alain who lost his composure and lost the match. From that moment on he struggled in every tournament. Funny how one event can trigger a downturn in someones fortune.

I say it was a shock Ken winning the World Title but I suppose it was only really a shock because Hendry did not (except to my readers). Ken is a truly great player and probably has the best record against Hendry. With this in mind I ventured to the bookmaker and placed a sum on Ken to beat Hendry in the final. Hendry though seemed to not be firing on all cylinders like a man who was somewhere other than in the crucible, perhaps he was at home with his wife and family counting all his gold. Maybe he just got tired of winning year after year. Of course even if Hendry had played better there would be no guarantees he would have won but there was something troubling our former King. For Ken this was an acheivement he could have only dreamed of, only the second person in history from overseas to wrestle away the crown of the best player on the planet. Back home he was recieved with such joy from not just his army of fans but from the whole country who shared in his joy. I for one can tell you that Ken is one person who will not be phased by all of the success, I am sure if anyone who knows him meets him tomorrow they would be greeted with the same warm and genuine person as before he became the new champion.

The coming season should be very interesting, we have more young players coming through than ever before and with Ronnie playing so well and our new champion we have a lot to be grateful for. Let us hope that Mr Rex Williams the new chairman of the WPBSA can at last lay to rest the turmoil which has gone on in the past boards of the WPBSA. For me allowing Rex Williams to head snookers ruling body is like taking a giant backwards step. Mr Williams is a man from the past who to be honest did not have an exactly glowing hisory as the former chairman, indeed the only difference this time is that he seems to be a puppet controlled by Ian Doyle. I feel this is quite dangerous to place so much power in the hands of one man, however the rumours around snooker prior to the sacking of the old board was that they had to get rid of the old board to allow new sponsors to come in. Apparently the old board was politically wrong and would not bring in new sponsors. Well now it is time to see wether we will have these new sponsors, and believe me we will need them as with the new labour goverment banning all tobacco advertising it will be very hard for snooker to keep the level of funding it has enjoyed to date. Indeed if it were not for Embassy and Benson and Hedges, snooker would be in desperate trouble. Let us hope that all the hype surrounding the new board bears fruit and we get all of the new sponsors.

To those of you who have written and not recieved a reply I am sorry as I have ben away but I am going through my e-mail now and will reply to you all. Please keep writing as I love to hear from you all.


Richard Fountain

The Fountain is a column written by Richard Fountain from England. He is an ex snooker coach and used to be the manager of Mark King. He will be writing to you throughout the snooker year and will try to give you all the inside info on this great game. Please feel free to write him <[email protected]> with any questions you may have.

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