Neil Goulding’s Crucible Column: Ronnie O’Sullivan hits the headlines for snooker - but not as he would’ve liked

Barrie Hearn
Barrie Hearn
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There have been a lot of column inches dedicated to Ronnie O’Sullivan’s unusual antics here at the Crucible this year, but yesterday he made the headlines for his snooker – albeit not with the result that Rocket fans wanted.

O’Sullivan was rumbled by the superb Stuart Bingham, who fought back from 9-8 down to reel off five straight frames, including a nerveless 66 clearance in the last, to record a remarkable victory.

In-form Bingham has won three ranking event titles this season, and admitted his emotions got the better of him after the game.

“I feel like I didn’t miss a ball, it’s unbelievable. That win means the world to me,” he beamed. “I had a little cry after the match. I rang my wife and it was very emotional, I had to take five minutes for myself.”

An honest and gracious O’Sullivan admitted afterwards he was second best: “I just got pushed around the whole match. I was outplayed, so I can’t make excuses,” he said. “I suppose every player has his time, I won’t be around for ever. Eventually there has to be a change of the guard. But it’s just one of those matches you lose. You have to accept losing sometimes.”

After one of the biggest wins in his 20-year professional career, Bingham set up a semi-final with Judd Trump. The potting sensation swept aside Ding Junhui in supreme style, despite suffering from a fever.

Trump has a new air of calm about him this year, and will relish the one table set-up as those behind the scenes here have transformed this iconic venue overnight, to make it even more atmospheric.

Rising Scottish superstar Anthony McGill’s Crucible debut came to a close as he was dispatched by Shaun Murphy. The Magician is looking to conjure up a second world title, ten years after he defied the odds by coming through as a qualifier.

Snooker supremo Barry Hearn thought he’d be the man making the headlines yesterday, as he laid out his new five year plan for snooker, and he was top of the agenda for at least a few hours.

The World Snooker chairman spoke at length about his bold vision for the sport, and announced several new tournaments as well as promising an even steeper rise in prize money. Hearn also reiterated his solemn promise that the World Championship will never leave Sheffield under his watch.

“Negotiations will begin very shortly with both the Sheffield City Council and the BBC with a view to extending the current arrangements,” he said.

“I don’t want on my tombstone, ‘I was the b****rd that took snooker out of the Crucible.’ I’ve worked too hard and enjoyed myself too much to do that.”