Mark Allen displayed poise and purpose in beating John Higgins in the opening round of last season's Wembley Masters but will have to play even better to beat him in Telford today.

Higgins is a man on a mission: back on TV and playing every bit as well as he was prior to his suspension.

He has come through two tough games against fellow Scots Graeme Dott and Stephen Maguire, raising his game at the end of each.

It's ten years since Higgins won the UK Championship title but he is clearly focused on ending that drought.

A word on Neil Robertson. Although it probably had no bearing on his defeat, he was still in bed 15 minutes before the match was due to start because he believed it began an hour later, at 1.30pm.

Nobody in the sport needs a proper manager more than Neil right now. Even if it had been a 1.30 start, this was hardly the ideal preparation.

There's no disputing his talents on the table but somebody needs to ensure he is where he's supposed to be at the appropriate time because this has happened too often.

He's less John Spencer, more Frank Spencer.

Speaking of farce, there was a delay last night when the arena scoreboard failed when Murphy was on a break leading 8-7.

When they finally resumed he immediately missed but still went on to win 9-7.

Mark Joyce gave a very good account of himself but Mark Williams, as he so often has in the past when he's not playing his best, found a way to win.


Mark said...

re: the duff scoreboard. That was *very* painful to watch as a techie. I'm just happy I wasn't there or I would been compelled to help sort it out as it would have driven me absolutely nuts.

Leon MonĨiunskas said...

I thinking that poor crowd might be because no longer English player involved.

Scotland/North Ireland/Eire/Wales

Very good match Higgins today.

jamie brannon said...

In some ways though, Robertson is a grown man who shouldn't even need a manager to tell him to get out of bed!!

A cracking session between Allen and Higgins, still hope John pulls through as he was my original tip to win this.

The standard this week has been outstanding, what is the record century count for a UK Championship, we must be homing in on it?

Anonymous said...

They still had the scoreboard above that worked fine. They should have disconnected the malfunctioning ones and carried on.

Coulda', shoulda', woulda'....

jamie brannon said...

The poor crowds are nothing to do with nationality. Outside of Sheffield, the events in the UK are struggling to pull in the large crowds.

We definitely need to globalise the sport, but I am concerned by the decline in audiences for the UK and the Masters.

Betty Logan said...

On the subject of crowds, was it just me or did the crowd sharply pick up for the Robertson/Murphy tie in the evening? The problem is the Telford arena is huge, if Elvis did a comeback tour he probably wouldn't fill it, so the size exacerbates the problem. If it were the size of the Crucible it would have been packed last night; proves people still go and watch snooker, but they want to watch a round that counts between two big names. I didn't get to see the afternoon session, but the evening was exciting high quality stuff and only became nervy in the last couple of frames. Probably match of the season so far.

The Murphy/Williams tie will be interesting. I think Murphy is the man to beat in this tournament but Mark Williams is very good at winning — if he plays well he can beat anyone, but if he plays poorly he has this ability to drag his opponent down to his level...

ActionMan said...

Snooker should get into the schools day out schemes much more.

It would introduce the sport to people who might be unaware of it and teach them good manners to stay mostly quiet.
It might inspire future players.

Would be a small earner as the kids or parents usually pay a nominal fee for such excursions.

Would boost attendances in events that require it too.

Mr Perfect said...

I was happy to discover Mark Joyce & his fan club.
He has missed a few balls but his safety game was great.

Poor attendance ? Too expensive !

TazMania said...

Dave hendon and interesting fact i would like you to take not and possibly mention
This UK championships has seen 59 centuries. Compared to 48 last year. With still two matches to go. Possible of 34 more centuries, im sure the ptc and has been a bigger factor, Barry hearn certainly increased the quality of snooker.

Anonymous said...

Higgins now 17 wins from 18 matches since his comeback.

Man On A Mission most definetly.

Andrew B. said...

Why do people here keep claiming that Murphy is Irish? Is is supposed to be funny?

Anonymous said...

After being late for the Premier League at Llandudno, didn't Robbo say he would learn his lesson?

Colin Borland said...

Re Neil Robertson's timekeeping, remember Barry Hearn saying, "there won’t be any tolerance whatsoever" of this sort of slackness?


In that Neil Robertson was one of the players he mentioned by name (he'd turned up at a league match with 10 minutes to spare a few weeks previously), I suppose he'll have to back up his words and take some action.

jamie brannon said...

There seemed to be bigger crowds at Telford last year.

By my reckoning it is only 55 centuries so far, but either way the standard has been fantastic, it has been an enjoyable week of snooker, that could be elevated to great tournament status, if we have two classics this weekend.

I don't know if anyone follows the Racing Post writer Steve Palmer, but he clearly doesn't like John Higgins. He states, that he wants someone to pass him the puke bucket for when Higgins delivers his winners sppech on Sunday.

Disappointing to hear Palmer say this as he is a gifted writer with an unmissable column on a Sunday.

Dave H said...

Neil's manager tells me that media reports he was 'in bed' are inaccurate and that he was, in fact, fully dressed in his snooker gear merely lying on the bed.

Nonetheless, he still got the time of his match wrong.

jamie brannon said...

I have relpied to Palmer defending Higgins.

I am fed up with people thinking they know for sure whether John is guilty, only he does really and the others in the hotel room.

Palmer is a man who does respond to strangers so may get a reply back.

Surely, Murphy will win today, Williams only got to this stage as his opponents failed to exploit his frailities. Then again, Williams may engage his top gear, I hope so would love to see a Higgins v Williams showdown.

Dave H said...

I'd have more time for the likes of Steve Palmer if they actually went to snooker tournaments

jamie brannon said...

Dave, his column is funny read on a Sunday.

He wasn't slagging off the sport, infact, he likes it, it's the Higgins issue that he is riled by and I don't mean to be contrary but can't see why he need to be at a tournament to comment on that.

I go to tournaments when I can, but most of my watching is done at home and still feel it's fair to comment on the play.

Dave H said...

It's pretty obvious really: you're more informed about something if you experience it first hand

jamie brannon said...

I agree in most cases. However, I don't need to be in Telford to know that John Higgins is playing excellent and Stephen Hendry is playing poorly, you can gather that from the TV.

Redandblackblog said...

Palmer is a legend and a good golf tipster. I don't think him, being at Telford, would make his opinion on the Higgins' incident any clearer. He would have had to be in that hotel room in Russia to have first hand knowledge of Higgins misdemeanour and I don't think any snooker journalist had that access.

Anyway Dave, lets clear this up once and for all, have many times do Eurosport actually send their commentators to the tournament's venues. To be really informed don't you have to be at the venue?!

Dave H said...

I've been going to snooker tournaments for over 20 years and I know John Higgins, so I'm happy with my level of knowledge

jamie brannon said...

With the Higgins case, this where being at venues is a big advantage as clearly you know John better than those who don't but just follow him on television.

The way you have spoke about John is one of the factors as to why I don't believe Higgins is bent.

Anonymous said...

hes got a wife. hes not bent