Neil Goulding’s Crucible Column: You have to hand it to Ronnie O’Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan is spoken to by referee Olivier Marteel in his second round match against Matthew Stevens. Pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Ronnie O'Sullivan is spoken to by referee Olivier Marteel in his second round match against Matthew Stevens. Pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

  • Never a dull day when the Rocket is around
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You’re always guaranteed some drama with Ronnie O’Sullivan. Whether the Rocket’s knocking in century breaks, smashing his cue on the table or, like the other day, playing in his socks, it’s unlikely us hacks are ever going to be short of a story.

And on Sunday the five-time world champion decided to make a lewd hand gesture during his second round clash with Matthew Stevens.

O’Sullivan stormed into a commanding 12-4 lead, but the 39-year-old let his frustration slip out after missing a routine pot on black ball.

Belgian referee Olivier Marteel warned snooker’s biggest star for the indiscretion in the final frame of the session.

But although O’Sullivan will most likely be grabbing the majority of the headlines in Monday’s papers, it’s the intriguing story of debutant Anthony McGill who is catching the Crucible imagination.

McGill is “living the dream” at the green baize game’s spiritual home having dumped out defending champion Mark Selby en route to the quarter-finals.

However, Scotland’s rising star revealed yesterday that he came close to quitting the game when things were not going to plan a couple of years ago.

“When you are on a roll these things can happen, and you just have to enjoy it and try and keep it going,” said McGill.

“But there was a time when I thought it wasn’t worth carrying on.

“My dad was involved in it all. He was trying to sort it out, make it better, but it was taking its toll on the family and it wasn’t always a lot of fun in the house.

“Snooker is nothing compared to your family so I considered giving up.

“But just as I was thinking about doing that I won a PIOS event, so I knew I’d be on the main tour.

“However, it was horrible turning up to those junior tournaments. Nobody seemed to like anyone and you couldn’t enjoy playing in them.

“I’m glad things seem to have been sorted out now and that the juniors today don’t have that going on. It wasn’t a nice few years.

“So for me to be playing at the Crucible now, well it’s a dream come true. I’m just loving every minute of it.”

On the table breaks of 62, 100, 139 and 61 saw O’Sullivan stay on course for the main prize, with fellow Essex professional Stuart Bingham his opponent in the next round barring a remarkable comeback from a deflated Stevens.

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