I fear for Jimmy White’s professional future.
As many of you will know, Jimmy lost his qualifying match for the Northern Ireland Trophy at Prestatyn this week. It seemed odd that he should have to qualify at all, but having dropped from eighth in the world to 35th, he is set to become all too familiar with this corner of North Wales.
He didn’t play well. Jimmy Michie played better and won 5-3. What surprised me was White’s appearance. Despite having been around him a great deal for the last decade, I still picture him at his peak in all those Crucible finals against Stephen Hendry: a young, slim man with that mischievous grin.
The reality is, though, that Jimmy’s now 44 and his best days are behind him. His highest break against Michie was just 58 and he was a mere shadow of the player who thrilled audiences for two decades with his fast, exciting style of snooker.
Not that this stopped the tiny arena from selling out. The fans still love Jimmy, still will on his every shot in the hope that fortune will favour him. But even they must know the years are fast running out.
After the match, he asked myself and the WPBSA press officer – not much of a press turnout – where the Grand Prix would be staged, apparently oblivious to the fact he has to pre qualify.
Jimmy has been one of snooker’s greatest assets: a thrilling player and a fine sportsman.
But the end is nigh. In one interview last month he spoke of his intention to get back in the top 16. I’d suggest his chief priority should be to stay on the tour.