A heavy thud on the office floor can mean one of only two things: either Clive has fallen over the shredder or Chris Downer's updated Crucible Almanac has arrived.

Chris has surpassed himself this year by cramming even more statistical information into a tome that now runs to almost 300 pages.

New for this edition is frame scores for every Crucible match.

I can't imagine a more complete record for any sporting event.

You can gorge on this statistical feast through our mail order pages in the magazine and, shortly, through our online shop.


Who said snooker wasn't cool?

The Rolling Stones have a guy in their tour part whose job it is to erect a snooker table at every venue they play. Bernard Butler, the former Suede guitarist, wanted to turn professional. The first thing James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers learned to play on the guitar was the BBC snooker theme.

And then, of course, there was Chas 'n' Dave.

Moving on...it seems that The Spinto Band are the latest converts to the 22-ball game

The Delaware sextet recently played a gig at Centrepoint Snooker Club in London and seem to have become weirdly obsessed with the game after seeing it on TV during their travels, even though they admit it took the best part of three hours to work out what was going on.

Their current album, Nice and Nicely Done, got 9/10 in the NME. They say they are considering dedicating their next album to Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Check out their views on the green baize below.




Should Paul Hunter have his ranking frozen at 34th so that he doesn’t have to play during the 2006/07 campaign?

That is the unprecedented conundrum facing World Snooker while Paul continues his treatment for cancer.

Everyone has an opinion on this, so here’s mine: yes, it should be without a shadow of a doubt.


Firstly, because none of the other players would complain. The governing body of snooker is, for good or bad, a member’s club so the views of the players would need to be canvassed. There genuinely aren’t any players who dislike Paul. Everyone wishes him well in his treatment; everyone wants his back playing soon. There will not be uproar if his ranking is frozen; there will not be a revolt against the World Snooker board.

Secondly, there is nothing in the constitution specifically outlawing such a course of action. I’ve heard people argue that Chris Small – who suffered from a degenerative disease of the spine – or Anthony Hamilton – who missed two tournaments after breaking his wrist when he intervened in a mugging – were not considered for such special action. No, they weren’t, for one very good reason: neither of them asked to be.

Before he became ill, Paul Hunter was one of the game’s most reliable players when it came to promoting the sport. He gave loads of interviews, made dozens of media appearances and was always amenable with the paying public.

At the 2005 China Open in Beijing, he’d won a match and the press wanted to speak to him. Some 20 minutes passed and he hadn’t come in to the pressroom. We were told he was still in the arena so went in to see what was going on. And there he was, signing autograph after autograph for delighted Chinese fans. He signed every one, hundreds in total. This was only a couple of weeks after he discovered he had cancer.

If this, and his many other positive contributions to promoting snooker, aren’t taken into account then it will be a very sad day indeed.

Thirdly, nobody is greatly inconvenienced if his ranking is frozen. Being 34th in the world isn’t like being 16th, with special privileges such as entry into the Masters or automatic qualification for the 888.com World Championship. Assuming Paul returned for the 2007/08 season, he would still have to pre-qualify for all major events.

Fourthly, failure to give Paul some kind of protection would effectively end his career. Even if he played next season, little could be expected of him because his game has been obviously affected by his illness. Last season, he won just one match. He is down to 45th in the provisional rankings. Another campaign like this would see him relegated from the circuit.

One idea I’ve heard mooted is not to freeze his ranking position but give him a wildcard for the 2007/08 season. However, if this happened he would have to start in the very first qualifying round of every event and climbing back up the ladder would be a hugely draining, difficult business.

Is it really good enough simply to say: ‘sorry you’re ill, but bad luck’

This is a special case, just as when Monica Seles was forced out of women’s tennis after being stabbed on court. She had her ranking position frozen and the game did not implode.

Paul’s illness has taken a heavy physical toll on him. We hear some encouraging news about his latest treatment and continue to wish him well.

He loves snooker and loves playing, but he was in pain at the table last season and can’t seriously compete at the moment.

World Snooker has a chance to help alleviate his suffering by giving him the time off he needs.

They should take it.


There isn’t a great deal of news in between seasons because there are no professional tournaments going on. Also, the likes of me are spending their time watching the World Cup.

We forget, though, that snooker doesn’t merely exist on the pro tour. There are thousands of players around the world competing in all manner of tournaments at all levels.

We endeavour to report as many as these as we can in Snooker Scene but don’t always receive the necessary information.

However, one excellent source of results is www.globalsnookercentre.co.uk. This is the best website in the game because it’s rammed full of useful information from events that would otherwise be overlooked.

Janie Watkins is constantly updating content, including live scores from various events, not least the endless stream of tournaments being played at Pontin’s, Prestatyn.

Also worth checking out is www.worldsnooker.com, the WPBSA’s site, which carries various stories and features.

I should also mention www.laboremus.no/snooker, a site maintained by Hermund Ardalen, who had snooker on the internet long before most of us cold use a computer.

Snooker Scene’s own website (see link on the right) is being revamped to include various features we don’t have room for in the magazine itself.

For news on the professional scene, I’d recommend www.sportinglife.com and www.bbc.co.uk/snooker as the best places to visit.

I’m surprised more players don’t have a web presence in the form of sites. I know Ronnie O’Sullivan is having one developed but this is an area that remains largely untapped.

One player to have ventured into it is Neil Robertson (doubtless drowning his sorrows after Australia’s last minute exit from the World Cup). You can read all about Neil at www.neilrobertson.net.



I'm happy for Sean Storey that World Snooker has given him a wildcard to play on the circuit next season.

Sean has been suffering from an unpleasant and thus far undiagnosed respiratory condition for the last year, which seriously affected his form to the extent that he was relegated from the main tour.

I think World Snooker deserve credit for showing its humanitarian side in granting Storey another chance after he wrote to them asking for the invite.

He tells me he's feeling better now, if not completely fit again, and is naturally delighted that his career is able to continue.


The skies over Tiptree are set to become unexpectedly crowded with the news that Brian Morgan is following Ali Carter’s example by training to be a pilot.

Are the pressures of professional snooker really so severe that players feel the urge to take themselves several thousand feet up into the air to escape? Apparently so.

Carter is newly installed in the top 16 but for Morgan, now relegated from the main tour, the decision is born out of financial necessity.

In the early to mid 1990s, Brian certainly looked good enough to be a top 16 player but the best he managed was 27th.

Looking back, his narrow failure to win the 1996 Asian Classic – in which he lost 9-8 in the final to Ronnie O’Sullivan – may well have taken a heavy psychological toll.

It got me wondering about the best player never to have been in the top 16. I’m talking here about players who could have made it but didn’t, not the likes of Ding Jun Hui who surely will soon.

Andy Hicks is an obvious candidate. He reached the semi-finals of the game’s leading three events within the space of ten months and looked set to become a major force in the game.

For whatever reason, this didn’t happen. He started the 1995/96 campaign 17th in the world but dropped down the list in each of the next eight seasons before producing some kind of resurgence.

His cause wasn’t helped by the huge weight of expectation placed upon him every time a tournament was staged in Plymouth, close to his Tavistock home. OK, so it wasn’t quite Tim Henman at Wimbledon but the pressure of delivering home success inevitably took its toll.

How about Dominic Dale? He won the 1997 Grand Prix and has since appeared in three further ranking tournament semi-finals but could do no better than 19th.

Dominic has always seemed better than the results he’s managed. Perhaps his title victory came too soon, perhaps fate has merely conspired against him. Either way, he failed to make the step up.

Aside from Ding, the only other ranking event winner to fail to join the top 16 was Bob Chaperon, the surprise 1990 British Open champion. The Canadian failed to replicate this success, going no further than the last 16 of any subsequent ranking events.

There are other players, too, who at various times looked good enough to become members of the elite group: Eugene Hughes, Robin Hull, Mick Price, Drew Henry and Dene O’Kane to name but five.

Hicks, though, stands out. Of course, his chance has by no means gone and it would surely be all the sweeter if he could achieve promotion so late on in his career.



The new issue of Snooker Scene includes a full report of the EASB finals weekend, the new tournament calendar and Clive Everton's account of his latest battle with the WPBSA.

To subscribe to the magazine, click here http://www.snookersceneonline.com/subscribe.htm


It will be interesting to see how some of the new, younger faces fare in this new season.

With only seven ranking events being contested and 16 players for the chop at the end of the campaign, there isn’t much time to get settled in to life on the circuit. A couple of early defeats and you spend the rest of the season playing catch-up.

This happened to Judd Trump last year. Following a fine junior career, his first match as a professional was against Fergal O’Brien, the vastly experienced former top 16 player and 1999 British Open champion.

Fergal had too much of an all-round game and so Trump was quickly 0/1. This soon became 0/2 when he drew Ding Jun Hui in the first round of the UK Championship. Ding, of course, would go on to win the title.

Trump started to string a few results together as the season continued, extending Michael Holt to 5-4 in the final qualifying round of the China Open before reaching the final stages of the Welsh Open. At 16, he became the youngest ever qualifier for a main venue.

All this helped Trump remain on the circuit, but for those new to ranking event snooker it’s a big ask to stay on for a second year.

Jamie Jones, an 18 year-old Welsh prospect, and David Morris, 17 from Kilkenny, Ireland, are two to watch this season, both having impressed in their national events and in European and world amateur tournaments.

Mark Joyce, the new English amateur champion, also joins the fray and could be one newcomer worth following. He is level-headed enough not to expect too much but possesses a pretty lethal game on his day.

What doesn’t help these players is the labyrinthine qualifying process. For most tournaments they will need to win three matches to reach the final stages; for some it is four.

Because of the uniformly high standards on the circuit, this is akin to swimming through glue.

I wish them all well, but can’t help thinking they’re going to find it a baptism of fire.



The manner in which Graeme Dott laboriously ground out victory at the Crucible did not win him legions of fans but much of the criticism levelled his way since has been unfair.

OK, so his final against Peter Ebdon wasn’t pretty. Nobody is suggesting it was. There were times when it felt as if it would never end. I had an appreciation as to what it must feel like to be a character on the Channel 4 show Lost: marooned in a surreal place with no prospect of escape, surrounded by oddballs and malcontents. To be honest, though, the press room feels like that at the best of times.

Eventually, wee Dotty summoned up one final gulp of inspiration and scrambled over the line. Much has been said about the lateness of the hour but it must be pointed out that some bizarre scheduling decisions meant that the final session started two frames short of the number which should have been played, some 45 minutes later than planned.

A generally slow pace of play – a big thanks, by the way, to Dott and Ebdon for chucking in the longest ever televised frame during the final session – obviously didn’t help but there was much absorbing snooker in evidence as the match came down to the wire.

To win at this late hour after all that had happened took a tremendous amount of nerve, resolve and sheer bloody determination, which Dott has in spades. Winning at professional snooker is about far more than just potting balls.

Put more crudely, nobody who wins the world title can be said not to have earned it and Dott, it should be remembered, was appearing in his second Crucible final in three years. Hardly a flash in a pan, unless the pan is especially big and given to flashing with great regularity.

I interviewed Dotty on the first Friday of the Championship. No sooner had I started that the fire alarm sounded and we were ushered out of the Crucible for our own safety. They let the players in the arena carry on for a bit, which suggests the press is more highly thought of than we are generally led to believe.

Outside in the street, Graeme, in his distinctive high-pitched Glaswegian voice, told me the one thing he loves about the World Championship is the psychological warfare that comes with it. I could see he meant it, too, even if the idea of him becoming champion seemed a distant prospect at this point.

It is, of course, this very mental attrition that causes many a great player to lose the plot at Sheffield. Dott, though, held firm to the end. He came close to cracking when Ebdon started to come back at him but kept it together. His 68 break to lead 17-14 was as good a contribution as you are ever likely to see under the circumstances.

Dotty proved himself a champion by the way he reacted to this pressure, quite apart from the fact he beat players of the calibre of Neil Robertson, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ebdon to win the thing.

After 17 days, he was the last man standing. At the Crucible, the ultimate snooker testing ground, this doesn’t happen by accident.

However you look at it, Dott is a worthy world champion.


Snooker Scene has, month by month, year by year, for 35 years, formed an historical record of the game on and off table.

Now we are launching this blog as part of our redesigned website.

The blog will be updated throughout the season from tournaments, bringing you behind the scenes news, results and stories of interest.

We welcome your feedback and hope to, in our small way, enhance your enjoyment of the coming snooker season.