Graeme Dott’s new autobiography “Frame of Mind” is rare for a snooker book in that it presents its subject as he actually is, not as he would like to be perceived.
The book is unmistakably Dott: forthright, to the point and devoid of self promoting embellishment.
It details his rise from a boyhood spent on the notorious Easterhouse estate in Glasgow to world champion and then the depression that came in the wake of the death of his long time manager, Alex Lambie.
Make no mistake, Dott came from humble beginnings. When he and his mother would leave their house she would turn and wave back towards it, even if it was empty, to deter the break-ins that were common in this socially deprived environment.
His family were a model of working class pride: they didn’t have much money but they worked hard, did the best for their kids and looked out for each other.
What they clearly instilled in Dott was that to get anywhere in life you had to work for it, and he threw himself into snooker, battling against various odds, including pneumonia, depression, a broken wrist and, of course, the other players.
Defying the odds seems to be the theme of his life and perhaps this explains why Dott has such a vast a range of things that annoy him, which veer from the understandable to the comical.
His contempt for the WPBSA board who tried to discipline him for having an opinion was well placed but quite why he is angered by TV commentators saying players have a cup of tea at the interval – which he claims never happens – I have no idea.
But in some ways it doesn’t matter because Dott has always had a me-against-the-world attitude and it has served him well. He seems fuelled by a desire to prove everyone wrong, and he did do when he became world champion.
His account of his depression and how he came out of it is moving and inspiring.
Comic relief is provided by vignettes such as his son’s pet guinea pig sitting on Dotty’s shoulder and urinating on him, or the time he proposed to his wife, Elaine, by ‘cooking’ her a microwaved meal.
Dott has a nice, self-deprecating style but he doesn’t hold back in his criticisms.
And on one group of people Dott could not be more trenchant: the press. He dislikes them and spends a whole chapter detailing the numerous ways they have done him down.
Writing as a journalist who has covered snooker through most of Dott’s professional career I would say some of this is true but much of it is imagined.
Like many players, Dott will have found himself misrepresented on the odd occasion, although in my experience this is usually done through incompetence or misunderstanding rather than as part of some grand conspiracy to bring a player down.
Dott comments that most journalists have “never held a snooker cue.” This may be true. There was one snooker correspondent of a national newspaper who didn’t know how much the yellow was worth.
But, just as journalists have never been players, Dott has never been a journalist and has no idea how the media works.
He certainly has no idea how hard it is to get snooker stories into a largely apathetic press, or how hard the committed band of journalists who cover the circuit work.
He criticises those who criticised the manner of his world final triumph over Peter Ebdon in 2006. “Much of what was written was vile,” he says. However, just a few pages later he himself describes the match as “dreadful” and “horrible.”
I would agree with him that he deserved more credit for becoming world champion. This achievement was not isolated to one match against Ebdon but the result of a lifetime of hard work, commitment and dedication.
I would argue with anyone who describes Graeme as an unworthy winner of the World Championship. The fact that he has appeared in two other Crucible finals is further testament to his talent and application.
At the end of the book, Dott says that he feels anyone who knows him will like him.
I would agree with that because I always have. He is an honest, decent player and person with integrity and the guts to speak his mind rather than hide behind platitudes.
It is entirely right that he has his say and his story is proof that sport offers a way out of unpromising beginnings.
In the book, Dott muses on Easterhouse today, with its crime and social problems. He must wonder what would have become of him had he not had snooker.
But he did and through his own endeavours he climbed to the top of the world.
Great achivement for dott to become world champion,however that final was the worst advertisement for snooket I have ever seen.If we were depending on dott and ebdon to attract new sponsors and supporters to the game,snooker would be in major trouble.
He is often overlooked but 3 world finals (and one world championship) make him one of the most successful players still involved in the game. And there has been some unfair coverage of Dott (a awful piece in the now defunct Observer Sport Monthly headed 'sports non-personality of the year' and likening him to Nikolay Davydenko springs to mind).
10:27am - don't watch snooker then if you didn't enjoy the best final of the last 6 years.
Dott explained his tactical game in 2006, how he beat O'Sullivan, how he had to play Ebdon. He did what he had to to win, he's a professional snooker player and bloody good one at that. How was his tactical nous appreciated in the media? By a slagging off of the final, questions about snooker dying and a label as the world world champion across internet forums. No wonder he felt bitter. After reaching the summit he should've been on a high but instead had a load of personal grief to deal with as well as a negative attention.
He spends a lot of his book making excuses for "boring" matches and actually advocates the shot clock at one point. That's how badly he took the criticism. As one of the best match players out there he should forget about perceptions and play his game and sod the detractors.
Maybe Dott is referring to the cliche used by some commentators when a player say leads 3-1 at the mid session interval "his tea will taste sweeter than that of his opponent".
Bog standard commentary laziness, I see his point.
Actually, it's not Dott's fault, we haven't had a classic, high quality final for years. This is because the standard is so high that by the time of the final both players are knackered. No-one could accuse Neil Robertson of being dull but last year's final was rubbish too.
I watched most of that World final against Ebdon, and even though it was technically one of the worst ever Crucible finals, some of the safety and tactical play (not to mention Ebdon's near comeback) was enthralling.
Funny thing is, if snooker received the coverage in 2006 it did in 1986, and it having been a poor year for British sport in general, Dott could well have won the Sports Personality that year.
I agree with that coment about the tea tasting sweeter - horrible cliched phrase, right up there with 'little fish are sweet' whenever someone is having to take baulk colours with reds
Have to say never heard the cliche about 'little fish are sweet'.
The tea thing is nonsense, but hardly anything to get worked up by. I bet every commentator has trotted out cliche's, sometimes they are even needed.
Dott was a worthy champion there can be question of that as it his name on the trophy.
However, he benefited from O'Sullivan having mental collapse in the third session of the semi-final.
Also you can't compare his standard and general tournament record to the majority of the world champion's of the last thirty years.
I hope this book is available to read in Waterstones?
He covers that semi-final in the book and makes the point - which I agree with - that a contributory factor to O'Sullivan's collapse was the pressure Dott put him under, particularly in the second session when he refused to allow his concentration be affected by O'Sullivan's antics with his tip
Nobody wins the World Championship through luck and his record compares extremely favourably with several other world champions - he's won as many ranking titles as Dennis Taylor and more than Terry Griffiths and Joe Johnson
Yes, but Griffthis and Taylor have won other 'big 3' events.
I never said he won it from luck, it was hard nosed matchplay of the highest order.
You can look at it that way, and you probably accuse me of bias but I still believe O'Sullivan threw it away that year, in part, to getting bogged down with tip issue's, when he didn't need too.
I don't mean every champion but he has certainly an inferior record than Hendry, O'Sullivan, Higgins, Williams, Murphy, Ebdon, Doherty, Robertson, Davis, Alex Higgins and Parrott.
I was thinking about all events, not just ranking ones.
Personally, think Dott played a lot better snooker in last year in Sheffield, in fact, go as far to say the best of anyone that year.
Old Brannon's at it AGAIN. He's got to get his beloved ROS in somewhere. Please realise Jamie, that so much of this great sport at the highest level is in the mind. ROS hasn't got the mental strength required anymore. You're favourites ROS, Ding and Maguire have no chance at The Crucible for precisely that reason.
I will retract the bit about the last thirty years, it should have stated the last twenty.
However, I a still believe in what I said about his 2006 victory.
It is not me being anti-Dott, but just providing a rational perspective to his triumph. He is a very good player, I don't want to be seen as someone who thinks he didn't deserve it as if you triump then you deserve it in my book.
I don't think Graeme really cares where people on the internet rank him - indeed forums come in for a particular tongue-lashing in the book
It's enough for him that he's won the one that really matters, when so many talented players haven't
'Worst world champion' is a tag akin to 'worst person to walk on the moon'
I don't care if he does but I thought you like peopele to make comments, probably not me, but I enjoy coming here nonetheless to discuss snooker.
I never called him the 'worst world champion'.
He is right about forum they are bollocks as most people use them to express abuse, something I don't do.
Plus you say he doesn't care but in the book he says that he was unhappy about the reaction to the win and clearly does care what people think of him as he wouldn't be getting worked up about the reaction to his snooker.
I don't know why anybody even participates in the "worst world champion" debate. I think it's pathetic and the players deserve better.
One of Dott's major rankles is that he's perceived as a grinder. Much of that is down to the Ebdon final where he HAD to play a certain way or get beat. Dott, on his game is fluent and great to watch and deserves much more praise than he gets!!
ps That "man on the moon" is bollocks n'all. We've never been!:-)
It is pleasing to see James Wattana getting through with ease at the world qualifiers.
Also interested to see how Andrew Pagett fares after his decent win over Zhang Anda. Mainly, due to him hailing from Blackwood, the birthplace of the legendary rock band Manic Street Preachers.
Overall, think Tom Ford will be the one to dash Jimmy White's hopes. However, feel hopeful that Drago can make it to Sheffield.
Without wanting to contradict myself I do feel Dott is unfairly criticised, but I was just offering what I felt was rational explanation to why his win in 2006 was perceived a little unpleasantly.
I actually hope he doesn't read this as I feel it has been made to look like a stinging attack on him personally.
Although I don't know him, his self-deprecating humour makes me warm to him along with his improved playing style.
The one champion who doesn't get the credit he deserves the most his Peter Ebdon, he is close in my eyes to be an all-time great. Yet, because of his relatively slow style he is always pigeonholed as a grinder when he is sixth on the list of century makers.
Rarely do any snooker folk eulogise over his achievements, this is in part to his alliance to the previous failed regime and continued criticism of the new one.
Dave brought up the bit about 'worst world champion'. I never started this as that kind of debate, just questioned the quality of his triumph in 2006.
In future, I will just say every world champion is as good as each other and be have done with it.
Can't believe how this has been spun.
That's not true. I wrote this when he won his last ranking title: http://snookerscene.blogspot.com/2009/04/not-so-blue-peter.html
I didn't say you'd called him the 'worst world champion' I was just talking in general as I've heard it said
Dave, I said rarely.
Snooker Scene in general is magazine that is definitely fair in it's verdict on snooker issues. Clive Everton has been on one-man crusade for justice!
When I said snooker folk it isn't a direct criticism of you!!
Even you must agree with me about him being unfairly pigeonholed as a grinder!! It is the first thing people always say about him, even though he is capable of some savage scoring.
My issues with him are down to his slowness, un-elegant cueing style and his illogical rants at Hearn and co. This is does not however blinker me to acknowledge him as an outstanding player.
I am not interested in debating the worst but am the best.
All sports fans have done this at some point , anyone who says otherwise is a liar.
Graeme Dott is still a top player.
I'm not calling Jamie for the "Worst world champion" comment either. I've seen the same argument crop up on numerous forums and just think it's idiotic.
dave just ignore him (though he wont go away)
Three world finals inside 10 years compares favourably to almost everyone in the modern era.
I believe Dott to be an underrated and unheralded player who deserves to be recognised for his achievments.
Just one thing has always bugged me though, his lack of professionalism after the 1st round defeat to Ian McCulloch when defending champion at Sheffield.
Whether he likes Ian or not, he lacked charm, class and grace, especially in a somewhat gruelling press conference.
It is just opinion I hold, which is something Dotty clearly isn't afraid to offer in this book.
Jack Karnhem was the only person to say 'small fish are sweeter' to the best of my knowledge. I hold Mikes Hallett and Smith responsible for incessant repetition of cliches in the modern era.
I don't see how anyone could be a "worst" World Champion. It's a contradiction in terms.
I'm a big Dotty fan. He's a great guy, got a great sense of humour, tells it like it is as well. And he's an awesome player too. Not just a brilliant tactical player but don't forget the break building sprees he goes on too.
Dave where can we get the book?
PS: Many congratulations to Kyren Wilson. That is an amazing win tonight over Joe Swail.
It's available on Amazon and presumably in book shops, although I'm not sure it's actually out yet
Not quite sure how a blog about Dott's book degenerated into a row over whether or not he was the worst World Champion. He is a World Champion, it's good enough for Dott, it should be good enough for everyone else.
Having read your story I'm definitely going to buy his book to read for myself as well. Good piece overall.
So far, I've only had the pleasure of reffing Graeme once (semi final in Berlin) and I have to say he's a true gentleman where his attitude towards me was concerned.
Gracious in defeat, nice overall, and complimentary to boot. Like you said, Dave, a proper professional.
As for the World Title he won over PE...perhaps not the highest standard breakbuildingwise, yet we should remember the game is called snooker for a reason :)
I enjoy all aspects of the game myself and always see tactical play as a means of playing yourself back into a match when the going gets tough.
I still remember Shaun Murphy's comments about John Higgins' win 2 years ago...it's hard to pot balls when you're glued to the baulk cushion every time you come to the table.
That's exactly how I see it and why I love the game so much, yet when it comes to his World Title achievement, there are quite a few people who say it was horrendous.
Everyone's entitled to their opinion but I'd like to agree to disagree on that one!
Cheers and keep up the good work Dave,
did Graeme write the book himself?
Oh and if you want to buy it, it's only £10.11 on Amazon
It was never a debate about whether he was the 'worst world champion', but an analysis on why Gramee Dott's win was discredited in 2006.
If you look at my first comment you will see that I hailed him as a worthy champion. In fact, can't understand this debate about who is a worthy champion, if you win the title through fair means then you are worthy, it is not imperative to be the best player of the event.
I have to say his breakbuilding has improved, like I said he was excellent last year, in Sheffield, where he produced snooker to rival some of the great champions of the past.
The post above calls his win horrendous and Dave and the rest offer no criticism, yet I make a gentle comment about O'Sullivan collapsing in the third session and say that it wasn't the standard I had been accustomed too from the people I have seen win the world title.
The one thing that bugs me in the commentary box is commentators just throwing around superlatives like confetti. Not every player is great and amazing, this is not me running down the players who are not, but not devaluing the players who are deserving of such superlatives.
The one thing i agree that Graeme Dott says was this 'Cup of Tea' comment-whilst it is well meaning as opposed to the Beer & Cigarettes of the long gone past(well since Embassy last were named in 2002??)
maybe it would be less annoying if they simply said 'interval' where the player can practice, read,drink whatever, talk or rest without SPECIFICALLY being implyed forced to drink Tea!!!!
I tend to agree with you on the use of "superlatives" and hail of RoS by certain commentators.
For one thing, I find it interesting to hear how the phrase "ronnie would go into the pack here" seems to be the common catchphrase.
Let's not forget it was basically Hendry who introduced that style of play AND the fact that nowadays there are hardly any professional players that don't try to open the pack at the first opportunity. Of course, exceptions prove the rule, as do circumstances in matches. Opening the pack fully when 9-5 down in a b.o.-19 might not be the wisest choice haha.
O'Sullivan collapsed because Dott knew how to play him - he explains it in the book. A bit of inside information from the man who helped O'Sullivan to his first title and he was away. Dott won the 2006 semi fair and square.
I agree about the "Worst World Champion" tag - it is a complete load of bollocks. You don't get Worst World Champions and even if you did, they certainly don't come in the "and twice runner-up" category.
I think O'Sullivan knows how to play him, he thrashed him 18-8 in the 2004 final, when Dott funnily enough had exerted some pressure by establishing a 5-0 lead. O'Sullivan duly responded by winning 18 of the next 21 frames.
I believe and it is not sacrosanct that O'Sullivan lost the match due to the inner pressure he builds up on himself and that was reflected in his tip insecurities. Not saying Dave, Graeme and the rest are wrong, but neither am I as it all opinion's.
Not every time a team or player wins an event have they played to the same standard of previous winners. Greece won Euro 2004 using similar grinding tactics to Dott in 2006, they deserved to win the title for the simple reason that they did. However, the triumph was not exhilarating and no one was comparing them with the great sides of the past.
The 'worst world champion' thing has really annoyed me as it was unfairly perceived that I may be implying that when I wasn't. I actually think it would be crass to call someone that.
I think that Graeme is a superbly good match player, one of the best players at those'half awkward / tricky shots that crop upfrom time to time.
Underrated safety game and long potter as well.
He seems to have an immense belief of keep trying and try hard, maybe even more so than Ebdon, and as much as Higgins?
Since he has quikened up a little he looks now more flowing and much less stutery than he was in the 2006 final, and more enjoyable to watch.
Those wins against Allen and Selby were superb last year, and only tiredness held him back against Gobertson who had the advantage of a lacklustre Carter in an easy semi win before the final .
Most , if not all of the players know just how fromidable Graeme's game is, and he is a very underrated player.
No player wins the world, and gets to two other finals for nothing.
Dott's a fighter and i'd rather have him in my corner than most. Sheer determination and 'true grit' :-D
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