When you walk into the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, you walk into history itself.
These are the corridors where legends have trod. This is the arena where reputations have been made and destroyed.
Nobody would choose the Crucible as a venue for the game’s biggest event today. It is far too small. It is prosaic and cramped and not the modern, forward looking location for a major sporting event.
Equally, nobody would take it away from Sheffield unless they had a very good reason. For all its faults, the Crucible remains a magical place, its status enhanced by the myths and legends of its past.
If you shut your eyes, you can see them, those iconic moments that, stitched together, form a rich tapestry of snooker history: Terry Griffiths an exhausted first time champion...Barry Hearn barrelling across the stage into Steve Davis after his first title...Alex Higgins in tears, beckoning his wife and child...Cliff Thorburn’s 147...Dennis Taylor’s black...Stephen Hendry at 17...Jimmy White’s maximum...Hendry and Hendry again...Ronnie O’Sullivan’s record breaking 147...John Higgins...Mark Williams...Shaun Murphy...
This is where it all happened and this is where it will all happen again over the next 17 days.
There will be drama. There will be shocks. There will be controversy and things said that can’t be unsaid and unexpected misses and fine potting and big breaks and one man left standing from the field of 32 who start out.
This is what the whole snooker year is based around. This is what people look forward to. This is what really matters.
Soon, the talking will be done. The predictions will be made and it will be time only for action.
And I for one can’t wait.