So I’ve been at the second event of the Players Tour Championship in Sheffield today.
The first thing I saw walking into the English Institute of Sport was a youth in a comedy fat suit wearing a bright red wig and oversized glasses that made Dennis Taylor look like Martin Gould.
I wondered idly if Barry Hearn’s critics had it right and snooker’s new boss really was dumbing down the game.
But it turned out to be part of a school sports day which, for reasons unknown, was conducted largely in fancy dress.
Away from the blaring music and a starting pistol so loud it made me briefly wonder if an unhappy blog reader had decided to take their revenge, snooker’s great, good, not quite so good and downright unknown were locked in endless battle.
Play started at 9am, proof that such a time does exist for snooker players. It’s the sort of event where egos should be left at the door. If your table isn’t free you have to wait. No point complaining, no point remonstrating.
This is a roll up your sleeves and get on with the job era, very much in Hearn’s own image.
The opportunity to play has been created, it’s up to the players whether to embrace it or not.
Most of them have – 81 out of 95 professionals entered this event – and seem to be enjoying the chance to play for more money, ranking points and opportunities to keep their games sharp.
And it’s relentless. Pretty much the moment a table becomes free it is brushed and then the next match is on.
These events would soon collapse into chaos were it not for the experienced hand of the WPBSA’s ground staff, in particular tournament directors Mike Ganley and Martin Clark.
They need to be across everything and are – MBEs have been handed out for less.
This series will develop and grow. I suspect different venues will be found in time so that players don’t need to have their post redirected to Sheffield.
The new worldsnooker.com live scoring system, when it is launched, will be a vast improvement on the old version and help fans follow matches ball by ball. Streaming is also on the cards but these things don’t happen overnight.
It’s nice to come to a tournament and find so many people in a good mood. Most here seem to be looking to the future, even those players who were sceptical of Hearn’s plans.
As Fergal O’Brien put it: “It’s a clean slate. We’re starting again. Snooker players are supposed to play snooker and that’s what we’re doing now.”
And there’s plenty of snooker to play as the season unfolds.