Stuart Bingham’s dramatic capture of the Australian Goldfields Open title was the fulfilment of years of effort and dedication to the game.
A professional for 16 years, ‘Ballrun’ Bingham has always shown snooker every respect, entering tournaments big and small wherever he can find them.
He has enthusiastically embraced the new opportunities that exist under Barry Hearn and has seen only positives where several others look only for negatives.
He got his reward today and it is well deserved for a well liked professional in every sense of the word.
Level at 4-4 at halfway, Bingham looked edgy at the start of the evening session as Mark Williams began to take control.
At 8-5 down and snookered on the last red, it looked over but Bingham enjoyed a huge slice of luck – fluking a snooker back – and it effectively turned the match.
Reprieved, he produced some brilliant snooker to draw level at 8-8. The decider was full of tension, with chances on both sides until Bingham got over the line.
You could see what it meant to him afterwards. I hope the champagne is flowing freely in Bendigo as I write this.
And Stuart should perhaps send a glass over in the direction of Mark Allen, because there’s no doubt that the Northern Irishman’s ungracious comments had an effect, whether consciously or not, and spurred Bingham on.
He proved that when the pressure was on he isn’t a bottler. How sweet this day must be for him.
It also gives hope to those many professionals who have spent a long time as part of the sport’s supporting cast, dreaming of one day playing a leading role.
Bingham has proved it can be done if you believe in yourself and produce the goods on the day.
Well done to him. He deserves to enjoy his moment in the sun.
The terrific final brought the curtain down on a hugely successful week, supported by large and appreciative crowds.
The Australian Open is another winner: gimmick free, it proved that tournament snooker is still a big draw.
As Williams graciously said afterwards, long may the game return to Australia, where the snooker public in this long neglected outpost played their full part in making it a memorable week.