Judging by the respective comments from Mark Allen and Stuart Bingham after each won through to the quarter-finals of the Australian Goldfields Open their encounter tomorrow could accurately be described as a grudge match.

I'll leave it to them. Allen first:

"There's a bit of history between us. We don't get on.

"He said about getting revenge on Ding for his Crucible defeat but it would be nice to send him back where he belongs.

"He doesn't like me because I told the truth in a press conference that he has no bottle, no balls, and as he threw away a match after leading 12-9. I think that showed it.

"It was great he did because that let the legend that is Stephen Hendry stay in the top 16 and I would rather see Hendry in the top 16 than Bingham."

The match Allen is referring to there is their UK Championship quarter-final last season, which he won 9-7.

On being told of what Allen said, Bingham responded:

"I can't wait to play this match. He said a few words after the UK Championship which were a bit out of order and I've been waiting for this match for a while.

"He said I've got no bottle and he thought he was never going to lose. I will definitely be up for it.

"I don't know what happened. With the game I was gutted I lost as I would've got into the semi-finals. I remember I shook his hand and didn't say anything. He took that to heart.

"But I don't care what he thinks. We're here to do a job and hopefully I will win. It will give me more pleasure to beat him.

"It's all mind games and I'm better player now than I was. He's an idiot."

Historically players who engage in this sort of talk are on a hiding to nothing. They fire up their opponent and set themselves up for a fall.

Ronnie O'Sullivan famously did this at the 2002 World Championship with some ill advised, and untrue, remarks about Stephen Hendry.

Hendry beat him 17-13, although this spat was eventually patched up.

I've no doubt Allen, and possibly Bingham, will draw criticism for their comments but I'd much rather the players were honest than simply mouth platitudes that they don't mean.

In the past they were threatened with disciplinary action purely for speaking their minds.

But the stuff of sport is rivalry. Why should the players all be friends? Why shouldn't they have opinions on one another?

It happens at every other work place.

Still, the pre and post match handshakes should be interesting tomorrow.


Sonny said...

If it was on the BBC they would focus on the crowd during both handshakes.

Can't beat a bit of grudge to get the interest up. If it's a ploy to get the tv table it could well work. Other players take note!

John McBride said...

If anything, rivalry adds to the occasion more than anything else. As long as the Marquess of Queensbury rules are followed of course.

Anonymous said...

maybe they wont shake hands due to one of them following a new religion?

kildare cueman said...

Thats the kind of stuff snooker needs. A bit of banter. For a good few years now players have all been on good terms with each other and you would scarcely tell by their demeanor whether they'd won or lost.

Back in the so called "golden" era, the play, by today's standards was dull but the excitement wasn't. It was as is they playing for their lives sometimes and many rivalries sprung up, some temporary, others longer.

Thorburn V Davis, Higgins V Thorburn, Davis, Taylor, and half a dozen others. Even Cliff Wilson indulged in a bit of after match bitching with Thorburn.

While the more PC among us will say this is wrong, there is nothing like two players who dislike each other stepping into the arena, particularly after mouthing off to each other. It brings an element of tension that no amount of money or ranking points can.

Dave H said...

Unfortunately it's not on the TV table!

Anonymous said...

David can you take a picture of the handshake out of the commentary box please?

Mal said...

It all adds to the spice - Wonder if either player will bottle as I see Stuart has also made comments about Mark's bottle!

Wonder what Ken and Liang said after their match today.

Mind you I did notice that both Mark Allen and Stuart Bingham are facebook friends - so that's all very nice!

Of course Hendry - O'Sullivan 2002 as you mentioned on twitter is up there, but nothing could compare to Alex - Dennis in 1990 which dennis won, though not without some showboating from the mecurical Hurricane. Alex and Steve Davis also had a real grudge. Others could have been Kirk Stevens - Silvino Francisco, Alain robidoux - Ronnie...

Ray said...

What a pair of prats! Professional snooker players? More like a couple of silly tarts. And what have they ever won?

I'd rather speak about the marvellous match I've just watched between Robertson and Dale. It was pure theatre. Almost every facet of the game was there and it was all played in the proper spirit. Who needs gimmicks - if you don't enjoy this then you don't like sport. Well done Eurosport, excellent coverage.

jamie brannon said...

I didn't agree with what Ronnie said in 2002 but can't see how he was wrong to say them. Journalists like yourself I'm sure lapped it up. At the time, he probably felt they were true, albeit immature.

Allen is right as that can be the only thing that has prevented him from becoming a top 16 player.

Also, you can have rivalry in sport without hostility between the opponents. Federer v Nadal is the biggest rivalry in sport this century and is not lessened by their mutual respect and affection for each other.

Anonymous said...

mark allen lacks respect for players that have been on the circuit longer than him. he appears to have a chip on his shoulder..bingham may do also concerning this but allens comments are more severe and even though im an allen fan i hope he doesnt win the match..

Claus said...

Anything short of a fist fight is more than welcome. The tension and excitement it creates is welcome and it is just another dimension in a truly wonderful sport.

Perhaps Michael Buffer should take over for Rob Walker for just one day.

Anonymous said...

how can Mark Allen still not get a TV table. He's been on the other table all week?

Simon Day said...

Different strokes for different folks!

Grudge "rivalries" can, and often do, leave people looking rather idiotic. I'm sure David Haye can testify to that. All the classic sporting rivalries have been defined by what happened in the arena of play. A rivalry has never been defined by words alone.

If you take tennis as an example, the three top players are engaged in a classic rivalry. A rivalry that is defined by the standard of play on court. All three get on very well and are mutually respectful towards one another. The excitement in their rivalry comes from their play.

Years back, two players very different from today's top three, McEnroe and Connors, also engaged in a classic rivalry. Although theirs was fuelled by a mutual dislike of each other, the rivalry was ultimately defined by the classic matches they produced on court.

The point I'm trying to make, I guess, is that different characters need different methods of psyching themselves up. Ultimately though, sporting rivalries come down to producing the goods in the arena.

This little "rivalry" is hardly going to set the sport of snooker alight. And I'm not sure this is exactly "what snooker needs".
What snooker does need, however, is another Hendry/Davis to come along and ignite interest via the standard of their play. Snooker hasn't had a dominant force for quite sometime, and it's nothing to do with the standard being raised. The standard in other sports like tennis and golf have also been raised over the years, but they've still had Federer, Nadal and Tiger Woods come along.

Snooker doesn't need these petty grudge rivalries, it needs a young player (or a current top player) to come along who has the desire, hunger and who can put in the hard work and sacrifice it takes to grasp this sport by its neck and dominate it. Quite frankly, though, none of the current crop of young (or top) players have that. Snooker has bred a "superstar" culture among the young players, where they think they can make the grade by turning up at the club at 2pm and doing three hours practise a day whilst living the dream lifestyle.

So, it's all very well for Allen to run his mouth off, but he'd be better off by getting on with his career and actually doing something in the game as he's been a disappointment since reaching the top sixteen.

Trevor said...

The thing that makes me laugh about the whole thing gs, what has allen done in his career to call anyone a bottler?. 6 major semi final defeats without reaching a final thats what.maybe mark you should try and find a cure for your own clinchers disease before you start calling other players bottlers.

wild said...

Dave H said...

Unfortunately it's not on the TV table!
beat me to it ;-)

why would the Aussie broadcaster prefer selt v murphy ....strange one.

Anonymous said...

A grudge match is flavoursome for all concerned.
My guess is they'll embrace after the match and thw winner will speak lovingly about the crestfallen loser.
Bridges may be built and these two fringe players and their families will no doubt holiday together in the Algarve at a later date.

Anonymous said...

I was saddened by the Allen/Bingham exchange. I like the idea that snooker is a sport that calls for gentlemanly behavior. Rivalries are fine and opinions are fine, but I think they can be expressed more tactfully.

tatannes XI said...

Stephen Maguire comments after his defeat were quite "fun" too.

Anonymous said...

Dave you're doing a great job reporting on snooker, I'd never find out half the stuff if it wasn't for your blog. Keep up the good work mate.

Anonymous said...

Neither Allen or Bingham have won anything yet. Neither man has the right to talk about each other's bottle.

Anonymous said...

Allen out of depressive mode i see!!

Anonymous said...

Mark's comment on facebook isn't positive after the defeat - commenting how did I lose to that ugly.... with a picture of Avram Grant.

Mark is a great player, but should learn from who he looked up to - Stephen Hendry on this and let his cue do the talking. Mark has proven he can beat the best beating Higgins, O'Sullivan, Ding etc, but needs to raise a level to consistently beat those he should and get to that elusive first final.

Anonymous said...


Ronnie himself is on record as saying he was wrong to say them.

crawl out from up inside him, please.

Anonymous said...

Completely off topic, but I'd just like to say how much I'm enjoying seeing live snooker for the first time, up until now everything I've seen was a pixelated dodge internet stream, loving it! The robbo match was unbelievable, I like everyone here thought it was in the bag even when he was snookered, felt sick when he missed.

It cost me a grand all up to come from tasmania but its been worth it!

Anonymous said...

That's what I call a true fan, 1016, unlike these whingers moaning about the Eurosport.

jamie brannon said...

I thought O'Sullivan was an idiot to say what he did but I believe in freedom of speech to a large extent and it didn't contravene those boundaries, although it was unfounded claims it still added spark to the match.

However, I much prefer respect between players and not resorting to pathetic trash talk. Allen is entitled to do it but doesn't mean that I like it.

I'm not referring to his comments after the UK Championship win, which were fair comment, but his talk prior to and after this match made him look like an immature 12-year-old.

Anonymous said...

What is Ken's support like out there? Do the public regard him as an honorary Australian for this event? He hasn't had an easy draw for this event (two top 8s and a player just off a title win) so he's obviously playing well.

wild said...

"That's what I call a true fan, 1016, unlike these whingers moaning about the Eurosport."

my guess is 10.16 is talking about fox sport in Australia.

wild said...

"A grudge match is flavoursome for all concerned.
My guess is they'll embrace after the match and thw winner will speak lovingly about the crestfallen loser.
Bridges may be built and these two fringe players and their families will no doubt holiday together in the Algarve at a later date."



"I enjoyed this game more and hopefully that's me getting the bug back for practicing more. When I do I know I won't be losing again to people like Stuart."


Anonymous said...

Dave Mark allen should get disciplinery action for his remarks about bingham on facebook..its not professional and he is damaging the game..i hope something is done about this..saying he has no bottle is different than calling him ugly and getting ultra critical..im Irish but im not supporing allen anymore he is acting like a scumbag..plus he has never won anything of significence on the pro tour except the wuxi classic..he is a bottler himself..he lost the championship leauge final to marco fu having been 2_0 up..he has never been past a semi final..so to be saying these things it just doesnt add up..what has allen won..??we all know stuart hasnt won a ranking yet but he could..

Anonymous said...

can somone post what mark wrote on fb?

Anonymous said...

good backtrack jamie

jamie brannon said...

It would be ironic if Bingham does prevail this weekend, and he wins on the final black would be sweet.

Anonymous said...

Bingham should thank Mark Allen if he wins this, the criticism has certainly focused his mind and doubled his determination. As recently seen with Higgins who has arguably just had his greatest run of form since 98-99, nothing like having something to prove to trigger some form.

wild said...

talking about his game no bottle etc is one thing however you cant go personnel with appearance and stuff like that.

all i can say we are lucky in Alex Higgins day he wasent on twitter or facebook or Allan rants would be childs play.

new technology is great for fans to interact with players but the downside is its easy to get carried away.

Anonymous said...

so what did he say on fb?

surely one person is able to copy/paste on here?

Trevor said...

Well now allen must feel like a right tit,and his comments have made him look a right one.he might keep his mouth shut in future.i wonder will he be as quick on fb to offer his congratulations i doubt it.