Another very interesting day in York has left us with a stellar line up for the williamhill.com UK Championship.

Judd Trump looked vulnerable against Dominic Dale, who played good match snooker to build a 4-2 lead before Trump enjoyed some outrageous good fortune on the way to winning 6-4.

In frame seven he had two flukes, including a ludicrous one on a pink, which helped turn the match. There seem to have been more timely flukes in this tournament than any other all year.

It sets up a mouth-watering encounter today with Ronnie O’Sullivan, just one of many seriously enticing second round matches at the Barbican Centre.

Ding Junhui struggled in the first round against Mark Davis but has a good record against Matthew Stevens, who scored heavily in beating Marcus Campbell on Saturday night.

Neil Robertson beat Graeme Dott in the 2010 World Championship final, which dragged on until close to 1am. The good news this time is that neither will be knackered after 17 days of snooker and their contest could be a thriller.

The same goes for John Higgins’s match against his fellow Scot, Stephen Maguire, who has a good record in this event and is capable of matching Higgins in the hard snooker stakes.

So today features eight players who between them have won 11 UK titles and nine world titles.

Mark Williams is probably glad of a day off after almost buckling last night against Joe Jogia.

The key word here is almost. Williams came through in the end, much to the delight of the legions of people who seemed to have backed various accumulators of which his match was the last.

Williams often does this: plays patchy stuff early in a tournament and then gets better and better. He’s still wonderful to watch when he’s playing his best and still a real dangerman for the title.

The venue has been packed out and the tournament is proving so popular that extra tickets have been released to meet demand.

But this is snooker and therefore it wouldn’t be right if someone hadn’t had a bleat up about something.

Yesterday it was the turn of Mark Allen, who expressed the view that Barry Hearn is ruining the sport and should go.

I don’t know Allen or profess to know what he wants from the game but I’ve been working in snooker for 14 years and there has never been a time when all the players have been happy.

There are either too few tournaments or too many. They are either too long or too short. There are either too many in the UK or too many abroad. The calendar is either too spaced out or too hectic. The top players are either getting too much money or should get more. It’s either unfair that all the matches aren’t on TV or unfair that the matches aren’t longer and played in cubicles.

And so on and so on and so on.

By the way, this isn’t limited to the players. On my very first day in the media centre I witnessed two seasoned journalists arguing about who had the best chair.

It taught me well and I have moaned about pretty much everything ever since, the main difference being that, quite rightly, nobody pays any attention to what I say and that I know a good thing when I see it.

Allen said that Hearn was making snooker too much like darts, with drunks shouting out. In fact, this has only happened at the Shootout – a huge rater for Sky – and Power Snooker, an independent promotion which Allen will presumably not be playing in again.

Hearn has not done himself any favours by being so publically dismissive of the players but they claimed they wanted more tournaments and he is working very hard to provide them.

If certain players worked as hard at their games and being professional in every sense of the word they may be more successful.

The main problem is that snooker players aren’t used to be being told what to do. Previously if they didn’t like the guy in charge they voted him out and replaced him with someone else, who they also then voted out before repeating the process over and over again until almost every potential sponsor had lost interest.

That was the environment that led to Hearn taking full control of the sport, without any prospect of being ejected. If the players had run the game properly there would have been no need to turn to him in the first place.

Anyway, all that is a sideshow. We have a fascinating tournament in progress and this is all the general public is interested in.

And there is much to grab their interest in York this week.


Anonymous said...

Dave excellent blog as usual,however i note you did not meniton that this was a foul mouthed tirade at Barry!I think this must be highlighted.This guy Allen is nothing but a corner boy!

Fin said...

I would'nt let the idiotic words that came from Allen yesterday overshadow what has been an enthralling first three days at York.
Sometimes you have to wonder why do they play the game if that's how they feel about the way it's run.
Maybe Allen should ask his accountant what his likely earnings as a player might have been had Barry Hearn not taken over the game?
It used to be six ranking events a season with a Masters appearance, but now it's eight ranking events, 12 PTC's a World Cup, a Shootout and possibly more to come.
You don't need to be good with figures to realise Hearns involvement has increased his earning power.
Don't get me wrong i'm not all pro Hearn, i feel he should have left the matches at the UK the best of 17 but to be honest the change has'nt really made much of a difference to the tournament, but for the spectators and tv fans it does mean we are seeing more players in action.
All said it's great to see snooker back on the BBC, i do have Eurosport and hav'nt been starved of action lately but there is something special about watching snooker on the BBC and listening to the boys in the studio and their views on the players etc.

Monique said...

Wether we agree or disagree with Mark Allen strong words, the good thing is that the players are now allowed to express their views, whatever they are.
It's a lot more healthy that the previous situation where everyone was expected to agree with the authorities whatever. It's in the human nature to never be completely satisfied and it's the essence of democracy to allow those feelings to be expressed.

147 said...

Dave i agree with a lot you have just said however I reject the assumption that the right to vote someone in and out of office lead to the decline of the game or loss of sponsorship therein.Notwithstanding this Allen is entitled to his opinion ,flawed as it may be, but benevolent dictators do need to be tempered.

Betty Logan said...

I would think Allen—being a young player in the top 16—would be one of the players with most to gain. I mean, the PTCs have their problems, but they are mostly related to lower ranked players who can't cover their expenses. Someone like Allen with all his guaranteed income won't face those problems, and can be a good earner for the bright young prospects of the game. It's pretty notable that the people doing the moaning aren't the Trumps, Lisowskis and McGill's of the game. Allen should be using these opportunities to kickstart his career as a tournament winner. It's pretty clear that some players are going to benefit from Hearn's tenure and some are going to lose out, but Allen can be very much in the former category should he choose to be. He's what, 25? He's going to regret it at 35 if he hasn't made the most of the advantages that were open to him.

Anonymous said...

Mark Allen should keep his opinions to himself and not broadcast them to the media. Hearn has been promoting snooker for over 40 years now, long before Allen was born and if Allen does not like what's happening in snooker he's the one who should get out of snooker not Hearn, snooker would not miss Mark Allen it would certainly miss Barry Hearn.

Mignon said...

Indeed this is an interesting moment for players and bloggers to show their true colours. More or less carefully weighed words revealing more or less carefully hidden agendas. A "tweet" here, a comment there, quite funny actually. More so as I have never had any illusions that talent (or adoration) had much if anything to do with clear thinking.

Yes, I know exactly what you mean, Dave in what you have said and in what you have left unsaid. (Never really known if I'm a good guesser or the others are so easily readable... lol)

I think Monique is right, players are free to express themselves in every way. Can't wait for the moment when that too will become a shortcoming of the Hearn régime lolol

Anon 11.17 Well put. I don’t think snooker would miss Adrian Gunnell either. Birds of a feather and so on. The little Doyle group lolol

I think Finn has said the wisest thing > we shouldn't let some idiotic words overshadow a great event.

Anonymous said...

well said MARK ALLEN

after the nonsense barry spouted last week i hope ALL the players turn against him.

i used to think hearn was fantastic.

now i think hes a very ignorant man!

Anonymous said...

Its pretty obvious that Mark Allen is looking to emulate his fellow countryman Alex Higgins but appears to have no clue how to do so.
His brainwave has been to have a public fall out with Stuart Bingham.
This hardly equates to the Davis-Higgins or Taylor-Higgins disputes of the 80's.
Bore off Mark Allen.

Anonymous said...

Allen is certainly entitled to his views, however he would be much better off concentrating on his snooker. It's the fault of Allen and players like him that snooker was in such a state off the table that Hearn had to take over in the first place.Although Hearn's disinterest in the players views could cost him.

The Blog said...

Good on Mark Allen!

Hearn said

“To be honest, what they (the players) want is almost immaterial to me."

And then said

"It seems to me a lot of top players would rather be at home in bed than go out to work like the rest of us."

And then added injury to insult with:

“The players job is to keep their mouths shut and play snooker."

I don't think Hearn should make comments like that even if he is improving the game, adding more events. Players won't respect a boss that is so dismissive of their contribution to the sport.

It's possible there is no viable alternative to Hearn - perhaps it's "better the devil you know" than someone else but Hearn has to be more respectful towards the players otherwise Allen won't be the only player calling for his resignation.

Anonymous said...

Glad someone mentioned the smash them about and see what happens flukes from Judd Trump. I think the bbc though it was supreme skill, rattling the pink and making it go in off of 3 cushions- Dale probably deserved to win the match, but since when has that counted for anything.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Allen, the media only wrote about selected quotes of what he said in his press conference.

I listened to the complete transcript and Allen also spoke out to support the lower ranked players struggling to find the money to compete and travel to PTC events and so on.

Obviously the things he said about Hearn were the quotes that the media latched onto.

Allen also said that Hearn would be good for the game in the long term, but his plans probably wouldn't be fulfilled during his generation of players.

Anonymous said...

Allen is actually dead right. He is entitled to his opinion. Are for your comments Monique, the players are not allowed to air their views because isn't it right that he has been reprimanded for saying what he did?

Hearn in it for what he can get out of it.

Anonymous said...

Quite obvously Hearn is in it to make money. Why else should he do it? For charity? What is Mark Allen in it for? Love of the game? Snooker players rival footballers for their selfishness, the only difference being they don't realise what small fry they are. They've been pampered for years and live in a bubble of delusion, surrounded by chancers who rip them off and drip pure poison in their ears. Don't like it? Go get a proper job and see how long you last.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but perhaps the Mark Allen supporters on the blog could enlighten us on what other sports are crticised publicly by their players in the way that snooker is. You will never hear golfers,tennis players, footballers, cricketers or any other members of thriving sports voice negative opinions about their sport as publicly as snooker players do, and I'm sure that some must have them.They only speak positively in public. This criticism from players only downgrades the image of snooker which turns high profile sponsors away. Players should keep their opinions private and express them through the proper channels, that's what sensible sportsmen do.That's been the problem in snooker for years and now the game is beginning to become popular again these 'prima donnas'seem intent on dragging the game down once more.

Betty Logan said...

Allen is entitled to his opinion, he possibly isn't entitled to voice it. If a Microsoft employee slagged off Bill Gates, does anyone seriously think he wouldn't be shown the door? Similarly if Dave issued a diatribe against Eurosport he could kiss goodbye to his Ferrari. By giving ownership of the sport to Hearn the players made themselves employees of Hearn Inc. Most people who build up businesses are in it for what they can get, so no doubt Barry will expect a return on his time and resources at some point, and there isn't a problem with that if the prize fund goes up too. I doubt there's much to get right now though; the major televised tournaments probably pay for themselves as does the Chinese circuit, but I wouldn't be surprised if his other business interests weren't subsidising the ptc, because I don't see Peter's Pies and Eurosport coughing up a million quid to fund them. I'd like to see the PTC expenses addressed but apart from that Barry is doing what needs to be done.

Anonymous said...

Allen and Hearn are both just too alpha, simple as that.

Anonymous said...

what other sports boss says idiotic things like hearn last week ?

Janie Watkins said...

Peter's Pies - actually Peter's Food is a partner at South West Snooker Academy.

They don't have millions to cough up, particularly in the current recession but we are delighted to be working with them and very grateful for their contribution to the Academy and Snooker.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate that Allen has had a difficult couple of years, and having seen the comments Hearn made on this blog last week I think both parties could be a little more diplomatic. Hopefully Allen won't be censured too heavily - I know that the WPBSA and World Snooker are meant to be two separate bodies, but a heavy fine or ban would look like a return to the bad old days).

I'm sure Allen is glad of the attention - but he should really do more of his talking on the table - his threats to walk away from the sport might mean a bit more if he had actually won a ranking tournament. Or won a major invitational. Or won a PTC. Or reached the final of a ranking tournament.

Anonymous said...

so ronnies retiring again. again.

you were borin 10 years ago when you started saying that after losing!

yawn @ ronnie

Derek Cummings said...

How can Jason Ferguson say that there will be an inquiry into Allen's outburst for bringing the game into disrepute. Remember the John Higgins fiasco and Hearn's handling of that ?
I am no lover of Hearn, he is arrogant,greedy and will be detrimental to the wonderful game of snooker ..... Snooker is NOT darts.

Anonymous said...

9.13, Sepp Blatter.

Anonymous said...

Allen and sullivan talkin about quitting? Try working in a job you hate for 50 hours a week to pay the bills and being skint from tuesday to friday and you wont be long realising how easy the snooker life is.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7.00 - There are moans from tennis players about a crowded schedule, and the 'big 4' were even talking about a strike a couple of months ago. Football managers continually moan about too many games - especially those in Europe having to play 3 games per week. Cricketers are continually moaning that they don't get enough rest between matches.

No matter what the sport, if you are continually playing with less rest between matches/tournaments then the standard will fall. The PTCs are heralded as a way of improving the overall quality of snooker, yet the exact opposite may result.

Anonymous said...

Allen might not have put his views across in the best way but he is absolutely spot on - 3 more televised ranking tournaments would trump 10 PTC events any day of the week, for both supporters, tv, and players.