Friday at The Crucible



Friday at The Crucible

I write this report two days after returning from a visit to the Crucible theatre in Sheffield for the opening session of the match between Ken Doherty and Mark King. As you are no doubt well aware by now in the end Ken Doherty triumphed after being behind two frames to six. 

My brother and I set off from home a little after six-thirty in the morning as the session was due to start at ten. 

Fortunately the train was on time and we were able to get a comfortable seat for the journey. A concern in the back of my mind was that the tickets that I had reserved had not arrived in the post and that I was not sure that a duplicate set could be obtained from the box office.

We arrived in Sheffield about an hour and a quarter before match time, so walked the streets soaking up the atmosphere.

When the doors to the Theatre opened, we proceded straight to the box office and resolved the ticket problem, the staff member that we saw was most helpful and efficient. 

As we were still in good time, we decided to re-aquaint ourselves with a friend of mine, David Johnston-Allen the proprietor of Cheddar Classics and the gentleman who runs the famous souvenir and cue sales stand at the Crucible throughout the duration of the Champiobships.

As usual, I shared a joke with Dave and reminiced with him about his son Mark’s three for three record in comptition against Stephen Hendry and was informed by Dave that Mark would be working later across at the Cue Zone. 

We then entered the arena to watch the match, the first session was a little slow with no breaks over sixty, I was struck, yet again, by how true and fast the tables are at the Crucible, the players seem to carress the ball on thin safety shots and yet the distance that it travels is massive. 

Actually the session did have one outstanding feature, Ken Doherty made two fifty breaks in the first frame and looked to have settled quite well only to finish the session four frames behind. 

We then returned to the Cheddar Classics stall to look again at the Parris and Will Hunt cues on display, I gave Dave a Cues n Views card when who should arrive to speak to him but Steve Davis, the former six-times World Champion. I took the opportunity to introduce myself and offered Steve a card as well, Steve was pleasant but had to get on as he had a prior commitment, he did remark that he would visit the site, sadly there`s no way to elecronically lay out the red carpet, but he is most welcome to log on.

Top Mark’s for Cue Zone

After the match and our second visit to the foyer of the theatre we walked across to the Cue Zone where people can give various cue sports a try and perhaps buy a raffle ticket to support the WSA charity that supports the charity for people with muscular dystrophy who need powered wheelchairs to aid their mobility.

Who should be comparing but Mark Johnston-Allen himself, he was full of energy and positivity and was motivating a group of youngsters taking part in a speed potting competition. He held the microphone and created an atmosphere of fun and positivity that made the surrounding people smile and enjoy their visit to the attracion I’m sure. 

I interupted Mark a little, as he took a break, to ask him to sign a Cues n Views business card, which he did with a smile and a twinkle of the eye as I reminded him of his European Open victories over that man Mr Hendry, I beat a hasty retreat as his lunch had arrived, I was impressed by his professionalism even in the presence of his lunch, that he took a few moments to chat with me about past times.

The day concluded with a visit to the Heritage Room and another re-aquintance with Roger Lee, the curator. 

Roger demonstrated a keen interest in the championships as he returned to watching the match involving the defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, between customers. 

The Heritage room looked better than ever with it’s wealth of historical information. 

I would heartily reccomend that if you get the chance, you should pop along to the venue for the other attractions on offer, even if you can’t get your hands on a ticket for a match. 

The tournament isn’t even half way through but I have enjoyed it so much already that I can hardly wait for the final weekend. 

David Smith