Hi everyone, I’m just on my way out to Shanghai so I thought I’d drop you all a line or two.
It's been a few months since my last blog and plenty has been happening. On the competitive front it’s been a slow start to the season. By that I mean it's already September and I’ve only played in three events. It still sounds so funny saying that as it wasn’t that long ago when three events accounted for nearly 40% of the season.
Anyway, we’ve been out to Australia, Riga and Fürth in Germany so far. The Australian Open is a favourite of mine but my preparation wasn’t the best. I knew that going into it, as I arrived in Oz off the back of a week's holiday in the States. The problem faced by all players now is that family time is important too. There has to be some down time where snooker takes a back seat and for me - it was a week before the Australian.
To add insult to injury my luggage only arrived in Bendigo with an hour to spare before my match, so I wasn’t able to practise or prepare properly. Having said that, Ali and I had a decent game, particularly after the interval where the standard of play really heightened. Unfortunately for me it was Ali that came through a tough decider and I had to go home tail firmly tucked between my legs.
Back home I was straight back onto the practice table, preparing for Riga and the first European Tour event of the new season. I played okay there and qualified for the last-16 on the Sunday but then ran into my good mate and, in my opinion most improved player on tour Matt Selt who duly sent me packing.
Again it was back to the drawing board back home in Nottingham. My most recent event was the Paul Hunter Classic. A very special event for all players for obvious reasons. It’s a chance for us to all get together and remember Paul, swapping stories and generally having a great time in his honour.
To be honest, the snooker gets in the way a bit but it’s a tournament where I’ve had a lot of success over the years and with a beautiful new Waterford Crystal trophy to play for, I was determined to go for my hat-trick. I played some really nice stuff over the three days in what were terrible conditions for snooker.
It’s so hard to explain to people who don’t play professionally just how much impact the weather, heat, dampness and humidity can have on a snooker table and the balls but the facts are there for all to see. There wasn’t many century breaks over the event and the tables played extremely hard. I do feel for WPBSA on this as they cannot control the weather but I look forward to the day when we can use different materials such as different cloths for different territories around the world. It’s crazy to think that a cloth made in England of wool will perform the same in all climates.
Hopefully one day things will change but until then we’ll just have to get on with it. In the end, I think the right man won the tournament. It’s been a terrible few years away from the table for Ali and I am so happy to see him come through everything stronger than ever and back to full health. As the old saying goes, class is permanent.
I chose not to go to Bangkok this year for the World 6 Reds Championship. I thought long and hard about it but in the end I just felt that with all the events we’re playing in nowadays, non essential events like this can be missed. It’s also not really in my opinion the best way to prepare for a bigtime event such as the Shanghai Masters. In the 6 reds, we play on different tables, different cloths and, of course, the game itself is by definition not traditional snooker. In past years when I’ve played there I’ve often arrived at the next event needing to re-train my brain for 15-red snooker, so this year I thought I’d try something different to see if it would improve my distinctly mediocre record in Shanghai. We’ll see…………..
Away from tournament play I’ve been fairly busy with a few other business interests that I have and also developing something new for Ssooker. Behind the scenes we’ve been working on my Youtube channel and now with some updated camera and sound equipment I’m really looking forward to bringing you all some new and exciting content, watch this space. I’ve also recently opened my own Instagram account to try to bring you more pics of life on and off the tour. Hopefully many of you will log on and follow me on there so I’ll be able to share this whole journey over the coming years with you. Those of you with a keen eye for detail should tune in to as much of the Shanghai Masters as possible. When you see it, you’ll know, and I promise to explain further once I’m back. We’ve also settled into Nottingham now having moved down at the end of January from Manchester. We’ve taken some time to find our bearings but we’ve now just exchanged on a house and will be moving shortly. They do of course say that moving house and getting married are two of the most stressful things people can do so here’s to the next 12 months!!!!
It’s a busy run of tournaments from now until Christmas but I’ll be keeping in touch on here, Twitter and YouTube so please stay tuned. Thanks again for the many messages of support I regularly receive...until next time,
All the best