4.5.13

HUMBLE HAWKINS IN DREAMLAND

As a teenager, Barry Hawkins worked as a junior in an office. It was a chance of a guaranteed income, gradually climbing up the career ladder: a nice, steady nine-to-five, Monday to Friday job which could have lasted his whole working life.

But he quit to pursue a much more precarious career in professional snooker. Here there were no guarantees. He was up against talented fellow professionals, the vagaries of luck and, often, his own limitations – the same battle every player faces.

What a good decision is turned out to be. He followed his dream. How many people can say that?

And now the dream has turned into reality. Barry is in the final of the Betfair World Championship.

If he beats Ronnie O’Sullivan on Monday it will be the biggest shock in a Crucible final since Joe Johnson defeated Steve Davis 18-12 in 1986.

This was a sensational upset but Johnson had three advantages that Hawkins does not:

1)      He had the crowd on his side as a Yorkshireman

2)      He had always beaten Davis as an amateur

3)      Davis had lost a psychologically scarring world final to Dennis Taylor the previous year

How do you solve a problem like Ronnie? It may not be any consolation that few are tipping a Hawkins win so he does not have the pressure of expectation. I’m sure already someone at BBC2 is cutting together an extra long episode of Coast, ready to go on Monday evening.

But world finals aren’t won in the theatre of opinion on the internet, they are won in a real and iconic theatre in Sheffield. Hawkins has earned his place in the game’s showpiece finale.

It’s an irony as he prepares for a best of 35 frame final that the turning point came 16 months ago when he won the Shootout in Blackpool, in which every match lasts a mere ten minutes.

The £32,000 first prize was a bonus but the boost of confidence he received by winning a TV title helped propel Hawkins in the right direction and six months later he captured his maiden ranking title, the Australian Goldfields Open.

Hawkins was impressive in that Bendigo final because, resuming 5-3 up after the first session against the archly competitive Peter Ebdon, he sailed to a 9-3 victory without any twitching or anxiety.

He has since produced some good performances. He had chances to put Judd Trump away in the first round of the Masters. He did beat Mark Selby in the quarter-finals of the German Masters.

At the Crucible, he ousted Selby and Ding Junhui before his nervy 17-14 win over Ricky Walden in the semi-finals.

After two sessions Hawkins had made a highest break of just 47, but Walden failed to put him away and the Kent man came out trailing just 9-7.

At 12-8 down, he returned to the arena inspired, fighting for every chance and striking the ball with much greater authority. He won eight frames in a row and finally hung on to win.

Anyone in snooker who knows Barry will be delighted for him. He’s someone who loves the game but doesn’t think it owes him a living. He has been prepared to work for it.

To the general public he is largely unknown. He has kept his head down and played. When he’s won he’s been gracious, when he’s lost he’s been gracious. For this reason he is well regarded by his fellow players.
                                               
So the last line of defence against the seemingly unstoppable O’Sullivan comes in the unlikely form of Barry Hawkins: a player who combines fierce determination with genuine humility.

He has put in the years of work and slaved away, sometimes for very little reward. Now is his moment to shine.

Win or lose he has made his family proud and guaranteed memories that will live with him for the rest of his days.

To play in a world final, even if it is to be against a force of nature, is an ambition realised, two days to cherish.

O’Sullivan has played the best snooker of the tournament, quite comfortably. He is playing well in all departments and his discipline and clear thinking is exemplary.

But it takes two to make a final and Hawkins, who is guaranteed £125,000 for his May Day bank holiday adventure, is right now where every player on the planet wants to be.

Here is a man who has followed his dream all the way to the greatest snooker stage of them all.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

I think the new kick counter stat the use is an embarrassment to the conditions and the makers of the current lighter balls.
Is there any truth in the rumour that kicks are caused by the light density in a room clashing with the fibre on the yellow carpet causing a friction and the balls end up covered with debris?
Another possible is that the thermostat under the table buzzes like a fridge and retains static and causes dreadful kicks to a ratio of 1.2 kicks per frame.
Bad cueing cannot be a kick, ask any laboratory technician and he will reveal all.

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions how snooker puts a stop to these WC miss matches, fairy tails are one thing but these are becoming far too a reg. occurance at the blue ribbon event. time to change the event structure perhaps to a group format in the early stages champ league style ?

Anonymous said...

Ronnie now back-pedals about (again) retiring. He didn't fancy the match with Trump so edged his bets by threatening retirement again (in case he lost). Now he's won, it's a different story. He now fancies his chances in the final and retirement is not on the agenda. As mentioned in another thread, he is a child in a mans body. Ronnie should just go for ever. OK, he puts bums on seats, but he's still not better than the game.

He hates the fact that his ex manager is still managing Trump and others but he really needs to grow up.

PM said...

Anonymous (12.35am): seedings? I'm not across the changes in format for next season, but that would be a good start. Still, the people who really could have done something to stop this 'mismatch' - which it might or mightn't be - are Selby, Ding, Maguire and Robertson. One of them should have made the final.

Crystal Gayle said...


Very pleased for Hawkins that his hard work has paid off in reaching the final but its a 1 in 25 chance he will even win.


The semi-final match between him and Walden was for the most part riddled with a string of errors and lack of fluency in making even a decent half-century break. The standard of play was shocking at times with both players contriving to miss simple pots or mess up basic positional shots repeatedly. Walden choked at 12-8 up but Ronnie wont be so forgiving.


Hawkins simply needs his A+ game out there or this final might not even require a 4th session.

Anonymous said...

18-0

Anonymous said...

The performance by Ronnie in being on the brink of 5 titles makes him the greatest ever.
Up there with Bob Beamon's long jump and David Walliams swimming the Thames.

Anonymous said...

@12:35

There's nothing wrong with the format. Supposedly class will out over the longer matches - but Hawkins has come through a half containing Robertson, Selby, Allen and Ding. It's not his fault or the format's fault that they failed to live up to their billing.

kimball said...

Most kicks are actually bad cueing
and nervousness is a factor too.
Kicks. Trump 10 - O'Sullivan 0
Good story that I got from Torbjorn
Blomdahls (3-cushion champ) father.
Italian worldclassplayer saying -"
I hate to play (xx), he is to nervouss and it causes a lot of kicks!!"

Daniel said...

@ annon 12.35

No.

The common perception is that the more frames there are in a match, the better player will come through.

19/25 frames is a fair length of match to determine the better player.

The likes of Higgins, Selby, Robertson and Ding (among others) have no excuse. They lost fair and square.

The final four were the best players of the tournament, it's just a pity the semi finals were top heavy and is the nature of sport sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I wish Barry well,and clearly,he can play snooker.The problem for him,and all the other players though,is Ronnie is a class apart,a different animal.
When on song he is laser like.Very tough to see an upset.
Ronnie the 5th,all but nailed on.

Anonymous said...

True about longer matches should see best players win, i'm just wondering if theres a better way of sorting this, 8 groups of 4 players, winners to make up qtr finals would be interesting & i would like to think mean some sub standard performances by top players over one session ruins the tournament...am i sounding like BH...? or maybe there are simply too many players on way down higgins, willams etc, not enough quality on way up & as for the others ding, selby, robertson etc perhaps on a good day they can beat the likes of osullivan but in truth they arent really in the same league as him, fore mentioned on way down, davis, hendry, i think this prob accounts for much of what we have today......opinions pls

Anonymous said...

Doesnt really matter who ron plays in the final. Once he decided to play it was a foregone conclusion. He is so far ahead of anyone in snooker. He is simply the greatest ever.

Anonymous said...

First frame hope for osullivan, hawkins gifted him a couple of chances & ron got a frame on the board......so far so good.....jesus, someone call a priest, hawhins is gona need one.

Anonymous said...

The reason for kicks cannot be bad cueing as Ronnie had a giant kick during the first frame of the final and he cues the ball like a snookery genius.
I am told by professionals that kicks take place due to an imbalance in the ball mass coupled with the number of people in an audience who breathe out carbon dioxide.
Also there seem to be less kicks on coloured balls then red balls by a ratio of 2.5 to 1 which has to be considered as food for thought.

Anonymous said...

Jealous fool

Anonymous said...

If the chalk theory is to be believed, then players should be prohibited from removing balls from pockets (not a euphemism) at the end of the frame.
Players hands are bound to be greasy / sweaty and once transferred to the ball, will be inevitable that it will pick up chalk dust.
Leave handling of all balls to Michaela !

Anonymous said...

5.31pm,

I believe kicks transpire due to the resin mixture of the newly constructed balls in conjunction with the cues the players use.
For example, most kicks are played by professionals with ash cues rather than maple cues.

Anonymous said...

12:35 - wouldn't change the format but I think it might be worth considering doing away with qualifiers and having the worlds for the top 32 on the one year list?

Anonymous said...

So far we have a contest but last frame last night could be huge. i like many gave hawkins little chance, we've a better final than i thought possible, full credit to hawkins he can be proud of the way he's played even though i expect ron to chalk up a sizable win hawkins has by no means discraced himself & the way he's played so far fully deserves to be in the final.

Keith said...

Do we really need stats every 5 seconds during a frame? It's getting like F1 coverage. And stats on kicks - surely that's subjective. perticularly with Hendry saying that some kicks are self inflicted due to cueing style.

Anonymous said...

Keith,

It's a myth that kicks are the result of poor cueing.
Never heard so much nonsense.
However anyone strikes the ball is an irrelevance, the truth is that every ball strikes another ball with an impact point.
Whether it be Ronnie O'Sullivan or Ronnie Corbett the ball is struck onto another ball and it's nothing short of bollocks to accredit the man behind the shot as to the likelihood of a bad contact or not.
Ronnie might be a sparkling player but he isn't godly enough to disallow himself kicks and also he plays snooker considerably finer than he speaks on subjects he knows little of.

Anonymous said...

This championship will go down as the greatest ever in my view.
The day Ronnie silenced his critics and we finally realised that everything else which happened all season is pointless.
Ronnie would have won all of those tournaments if he could have been bothered to play in them.
Tonight I celebrate my love for you.

Anonymous said...

who's this clown at the interval? my god that was pure terror. BBC used to have good enough pieces in intervals over the years, but they really have sunk to a new depth.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
This championship will go down as the greatest ever in my view.
The day Ronnie silenced his critics and we finally realised that everything else which happened all season is pointless.
Ronnie would have won all of those tournaments if he could have been bothered to play in them.
Tonight I celebrate my love for you.

6:34 pm
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except the only one he did enter he got beat by a layer you wouldn't recognise walking by you in the street.

well thought out post my friend. hmm