‘Players back famous venue’

Mark Williams
Mark Williams
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SNOOKER’S world number two Mark Williams created a storm on the eve of the 2012 Championship when he lashed out at the sport’s spiritual home - the Crucible Theatre.

In a series of outbursts on Twitter, Williams, the two-time former winner, described Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre as a “s***hole” and called for the tournament to be moved to China.

Despite lifting the trophy in 2000 and 2003, he said he disliked playing at the 980-seator Crucible, which has staged the event since 1977.

But BBC commentator John Virgo insists the Welshman’s views are not universally shared by his peers in the game.

“Reading between the lines, Mark was saying that when it is a two-table situation, he felt it was a bit cramped in the auditorium and it is,” said John.

“But from a spectator’s point of view, it just adds to the atmosphere. When it gets to a one-table situation, there is no better venue in the world.

“I can’t believe Mark doesn’t like playing here. Every player worth is salt wants to perform there and he has won it twice. I think he was just being a bit mischievous which is part of Mark’s make-up.

“Everybody is entitled to their opinion but I think 99 per cent of professional snooker players would not agree. Everybody I spoke to about the article said they didn’t agree with it.”

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn has stated he would be happy for the Crucible, which is contracted to host the World Championships until 2014, to stage the tournament “until the day I die”.

John said: “You’ve got your Wimbledon, you’ve got your Wembley and snooker has got its Crucible Theatre. It’s got the history.

“Every kid who picks up a cue’s ambition is to get to the Crucible. If it went anywhere else, you would lose that history and attitude to snooker.

“From what I’m hearing, it will be in Sheffield a lot longer than 2014. My gut feeling is it would be the worst thing to happen to the game if it went anywhere else.”