It was a non-descript Tuesday in Bournemouth 15 years ago when Roger Garrett’s professional snooker career came to an end.

Like hundreds of others Garrett had chanced his arm on the game he loved when the professional ranks were thrown open to all-comers.

He did better than most, getting up to 85th in the world rankings, beating Dave Harold, Dominic Dale and Stephen Lee along the way.

That afternoon in 1995 he had been due to play Harold in the last 64 of the International Open but failed to turn up for his match.

His father had travelled to watch him and knew nothing of his disappearance. Tournament officials thus notified local police who found Garrett’s dress suit and cue in his hotel room.

He eventually phoned his mother to say he was on his way home but withdrew from the Thailand Open in Bangkok, which he had qualified for, on medical grounds and never played again.

Snooker is a lonely game. There are no team mates to share the load and though it is far from the only individual sport, the amount of time it takes to play and the intensity of the emotions felt in the arena, where the action takes place in near silence, make it one of the hardest to cope with mentally.

A snooker player has to face his own limitations. He is only as good as his last match. Past glories count for nothing in the present. Mistakes can haunt a player for the rest of their days.

Fans may give a player stick when he misses an easy ball, fluffs a big lead or doesn’t perform on the day but the player knows already. He doesn’t need to be told. There is no bigger critic than he himself.

Losing can be heartbreaking. It can mean the difference between being able to afford a family holiday or not, getting into the top 16 or not, being world champion or not.

That’s why players should be cut some slack for they way they behave in the immediate aftermath of a defeat.

There is a modern day tendency to regard sport, snooker included, as ‘just a bit of fun.’ You hear things like ‘I do wish he’d smile’ parroted but this is in ignorance of the fact that players are often playing for their livelihoods and there isn’t much to smile about when everthing you’ve worked for is becoming harder and harder to attain.

There’s a difference between an ungracious loser and a bad loser. An ungracious loser blames anyone but himself for the defeat. A bad loser is so downbeat at his own failures that he is often rendered speechless – Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis were bad losers in their prime.

I’ve seen players reduced to tears by defeat. And sometimes gracious words at a press conference are a cover for real feelings, which come to the fore immediately afterwards in the dressing room.

Some snooker players have consulted sports psychologists. Peter Ebdon used to be into meditation before matches.

But in a game so clearly dependent on mental toughness there have been breakdowns, big or small, even among the greats.

Ronnie O’Sullivan experiences mood swings of violent extremes, from exhilarating highs to debilitating lows.

I remember him once playing superbly at the UK Championship against Alan McManus. He was well ahead after the first session and finished Alan off in the second.

In the press conference afterwards I asked him what he had done between sessions. Without any side or pretence he replied: ‘I sat in the bath crying my eyes out. I don’t know why.’

Ronnie has many times failed to derive any obvious joy from performances that snooker fans have been entertained by. He famously walked out early in the sixth frame of his UK Championship quarter-final against Stephen Hendry in 2006, trailing 4-1 and fed up with losing, with snooker, with everything.

O’Sullivan, though, has handled the pressure pretty well in his career. Just a month on from this he won the Wembley Masters. He is a great player, a great champion and a household name.

Roger Garrett is not a household name. I don’t know what he’s doing now but he never returned to the circuit. He was a victim of the pressure that afflicts this intensely difficult sport.

I hope that whatever he is doing has brought him the happiness he was unable to find from playing professional snooker, an occupation which can yield fame, fortune and admiration but also anxiety, uncertainty and disappointment that can be impossible to bear.


Anonymous said...

One of your best posts Dave. I too sometimes wonder what became of the hundreds of names who turned pro in the early 90's. At least they had a chance to compete, not like the closed shop beforehand.

Mat Wilson

David Caulfield said...

very good article!

Anonymous said...

Great post. Which category does O'Sullivan fall into though? Ungracious loser? Bad loser? Both? Neither?

Paul Hunter's defeat to Ken Doherty in their 2003 world semi final from an almost unassailable position would go down in my book as a somebody who was very gracious in defeat.

Anonymous said...

Hi dave,can you remember a belfast player called jack mc laughlin,i recall he played in the late eighthies early nineties.

kimball said...

Worst preassure reaction I have ever seen is Matthew Stevens when Williams
levelled to 16 all after being 11-15 down in the 2000 final.

Suddenly perspiration were absolutely flooding down his face.
For all to see,the match was lost.

Anonymous said...

I remember the players room overlooked Bournmouth pier and players were thinking he may have gone and thrown himself off it(no joke).I think its because most players have felt like that at some time in there careers so it wasnt hard to imagine. Ive heard Roger now works at Heathrow Airport and im sure he would laugh about it now but at the time its your worse nightmare to not want to go out and play.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hi Dave
Mr Garrett maybe at last found the location of William Bonny? Mr hey you

Dave H said...

Jack McLaughlin was a former Irish Professional champion and I think he became a prison officer

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr Kimball
That was a great game you recalled between Stevens and Williams. Amazing Mr K, Matthew never learned anything from that game and still likes the cameras too much.
Matthew at that time was playing specifically on a run of good form. While Mark was playing also to the gallery his “Nonchalant” style of play.

As top players should know Dave “Form” is like luck that comes and goes and finds its limitations and Matthews luck ran out.
In turn Mark realised (possible) that being “Nonchalant” was really a silly cover for his wonderful “Economical Cue Action” and managed with a touch of luck to ignore the TV cameras with his forgotten casual style of play and a nice finish. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

80s Joe o Boye, John wright,Paul Fryatt,Martin Smith. 90s Nick Terry,Paul Tanner. all players that should have done better.

Anonymous said...

Matthew Stevens, should, in all honesty, be a two times World Champion by now.Great to watch, but just like Jimmy(and no serious criticism intended here) just didn't have a enough when it mattered in the World finals.

Anonymous said...

dave u promised anything with fine art would be banned 8 16

Dave H said...

If he comments on the subject at hand I have no problem with that

Anonymous said...

I think Paul Fryatt has recently started playing again after 25 years in the wilderness.
Fryatt won the Luton Rileys section of the World Open after a few days practice so perhaps more time at the table will see this formerly outstanding player do even better in the future.

Anonymous said...

surely u can see its the same context . Even i can read between the lines and im not a pro journalist.Dont bottle it dave .

Betty Logan said...

You can even argue that Stevens could and perhaps should have been a three times world champion. He had Ebdon beaten in their 2002 semi, and he's always had a good record against Hendry - that final would have come between him thrashing Hendry at The Crucible in 2001 and beating him in the UK final in 2003. After the death of his father in 2001 which took the wind out of his sails for a couple of seasons, he seemed to be back on track when he won the UK. The following season he should have sealed the deal at The Crucible, but at the time looked like he would be a serious challenger for the rest of the decade.

Anonymous said...

blimey, that brings back memories - i was actually there at bournemouth that afternoon with roger's manager and the sheer disbelief of it all at the time comes flooding back now...it was a horrible feeling - we were all so excited and ready for the match then the the feelings turns to disbelief, uncertaintly, amazement and then of course worry. horrible moment and a graphic show of the pressure and how people deal with it.
i hope roger is happy now in whatever he is doing.
Mr D

Anonymous said...

It's very easy to say someone should have done this, or should have done that but it doesn't acknowledge any of the difficulties discussed in the original post.

One wonders how successful the various carpers have been in their chosen careers that would give them the right to tell other people what they should have acheived.

My suspicion would be not very.

Anonymous said...

As I understand it 3 fairly well known ex-players who will remain nameless are now happily working in a morgue.
It seems they see more life and verve than the players who were qualifying for the World Open this week in front of nobody except a referee brandishing a velvet bow-tie.
You may see this as a flippant comment but I understand that Mark Allen is hopping mad after losing in Sheffield the other day (fron 2-0 up)and he now yearns for the old regime where he could freely book into the Grosvenor in Sheffield for next April by way of an advanced booking.
Seedings are guarantees and guarantees are something you can readily show any bank manager for a loan and/or mortgage.
Sadly bank managers no longer exist either and have been replaced by metallic machinery and glittering nothingness aplenty.
A voice automated scandal IMO.

Anonymous said...

No snooker player ever won a match by hiding in a wardrobe or tall-boy antique, however expensive this item would be to purchase at an auction.

kimball said...

John Wright had "everything" except
his head screwed on properly.

Anyway, he and his pal "jellybaby"
were ok company in small doses under 1985 IBSF in Blackpool.

First and only time I will see a player (J.W.)being 0-3 down, smashing the pack from behind in the openingshot, a red goes in the side, makes a 78 break and wins the match 4-3!

Anonymous said...

Mark Allen has never won anything of any note. When he has then he can complain about being overlooked. Until then he should shut up - as should his management group who can't even get the prize money facts right on their carping website.

Anonymous said...

110sport also claim Stephen Hendry is 85th in the rankings under the new system (complete lies) and then moaning Mark King is saying prize money is down when it's up by £1m.

Is Lee Doyle standing for the board by any chance?

Dave H said...

Yes he is.

Hendry would be 85th on the one yera list but snooker no longer uses a one year list so this is misleading.

Anonymous said...

Hendry should try winning a match and he might not drop down the rankings.

Lee Doyle has some neck. All he did on his previous stint on the board was gain commercial initiative.

Rodney Walker gave him a glowing reference for China and handed him the contract to televise the qualifiers.

He should stay away from snooker. The game is now on an upward curve and the last thing it needs is the likes of him, Hill, McMahon etc. coming back and instigating the usual political infighting that caused the game to stagnate initially.

I just hope the players use their loafs. If he wasn't a savior then, why should he be one now?

Anonymous said...

Also Hendry didn't enter any of the first lot of PTC events so why is it surprising if he's 85th on the list of events since the PTC started and before any major events have taken place?

Anonymous said...

Trust me guys the war will never end.

jamie brannon said...

A good piece Dave.

I have to say the pressure in the lower reachers of the big sports is greater than the pressure experienced at the top end as people are quite literally trying to stay employed.

I can accept top-level sport being more than just a bit of fun, but I don't agree with the attitude of adults who take local football leagues at astro-turf venues as anything more than fun.

Anonymous said...

Mark King's comments sum up everything that's wrong with snooker.

Players like him want to turn up and get a nice big cheque for doing nothing.

They should learn that from now on they have to earn their money. The rewards are there for those who achieve - as Barry Pinches can attest to - but the days of subsidising mediocrity are over and I for one welcome this change.

Anonymous said...

If Doyle gets back on the board it's a stitch up.

kildare cueman said...

The list that 110 refers to has nothing whatsoever to do with rankings. It is merely a list of points accrued since the start of the season, and yes Mark King and Barry Pinches top the list because they have earned more points than anybody else this season.

Are 110 saying that tournament performances should be ignored because Hendry was a great player 15 years ago?

The one year list he refers to is totally irrelevant anyway. Its a fun list put up by Matt on pro snooker and does not include the huge shoal of points that the top 16 are guaranteed for the rest of the seasons' tournaments just for turning up. If those points were included, the list wouldn't change much from last season, or the season before, now that I think of it.

Another lie perpetuated by 110 is Mark Allens' prize money. The last 96 received £1500 so why are they saying Allen received the same?

Lee Doyles place on the board became untenable because he was in direct competition with WS.

What can he possibly do to improve snooker by rejoining the board?

Anonymous said...

What can he possibly do to improve snooker by rejoining the board?

Good question.

Betty Logan said...

Does it even matter who is on the board now Barry Hearn owns 51%? Surely getting a board position these days to challenge Hearn is like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Matt said...

Can't believe that they have tried to make a big deal out of the one-year list, like kildare cueman said it's a fun list more than anything but not really meaningful given that most of the top 16 players haven't started in either the World Open or Shanghai Masters yet.

Anonymous said...

Kildare @ 5.01pm;
To answer your question, frankly he can do nothing to improve snooker.
What he can do though, is to gain a commercial advantage, by having access to the WSA information that made his position untenable in the first place.
The players are not stupid. They won't elect him surely.

shaun said...

off topic but anyone no where i can find details of the ledgends tour

Gina Gotthilf said...

Really good article. thanks for sharing.i like it very much.

Anonymous said...

I notice the EPTC prizemoney is paid in Euros but numerically stays the same as the UK events. Thats effectively a 20% drop and is a bit mean when you consider the extra expense involved in travelling to Germany.

Anonymous said...

Global and world snooker have both stopped half through the quarter finals. What the hell is going on?
Pathetic the pair of them.
Is there anybody in Sheffield with a laptop or mobile or are the results a secret.

Anonymous said...

frame scores results and breaks all a big secret
only for some chosen ones
and they say they care about the game!!!!!
and we're supposed to be grateful!!!!
hard life in Fuerth what do you think!!!!
very difficult job!!!!