I play man-of-the-moment Judd Trump in the PTC3 at Gloucester this weekend and I’m really looking forward to it. Judd plays the game so differently to anyone else, he’s entertaining, he pots balls from anywhere and you’ve really got to be at the top of your game when you meet him. He makes you raise your own level, and I’ll certainly have to do that if I’m going to beat him.
I’ve played him many times as a junior, and even then he was in a different league. He’s now got to this amazing stage where he’s doing good things for snooker, playing the game the way he does. But it’s also because of his lifestyle too, with his fancy cars and the nightclubbing. Good for him I say, if I was in his position I’m sure I’d be doing the same.
Judd certainly sets the benchmark for young pros and is an inspiration for kids, too, who watch the game and maybe think they’d like to play like he does. I think we might see the results of that in 10, 20 years or so, when all the new young players will have no fear, playing attacking snooker and potting balls left, right and centre.
He’s a great advert for the game, and it was brilliant to see him and Neil Robertson on the Red or Black programme on TV last Saturday night. I can’t stand the show personally, I think it’s terrible. But I tuned in anyway just because they were on it, it was great to see snooker on one of the biggest shows on TV at the moment.
Anything that puts snooker in the spotlight and in the public eye can only be a good thing. I’ve seen a few of the Big Break shows that were on TV years ago with John Virgo and Jim Davidson, it looked like great fun, with the trick shots and Virgo’s waistcoats. It would be brilliant if something like that was back on TV now. But back then snooker was hugely popular, more so than now, so I’m not sure the appeal would be there, but it would be great to try it out.
We had Power Snooker a couple of years ago and, although I didn’t particularly like it, the fact that they were trying something different can only be applauded.
These days you often get the accusation that there are no characters anymore. I don’t buy into that at all, we’re all trying to earn a living under very intense circumstances, so you aren’t going to see us laughing and joking around.
But snooker on game shows, or even on the Pot Black programme that used to be on years ago, helped show a different, more light-hearted side to snooker and the players themselves. I played in Junior Pot Black in 2006 and got to the final, losing on the black to Stuart Carrington. We played the final at the Crucible and it was televised. I got a bit of stick at school because I was on TV, but it was a great incentive and helped showcase young snooker talent.
People who might not like traditional snooker might be attracted by different formats. Variety is the spice of life, so I’d be all for seeing it back on TV in the form of game shows or Pot Black – anything that’s just a bit different to the usual tournaments we see.
One of my plans this season is to do a bit more sightseeing when I’m at tournaments. In Germany last week, me and Alan McManus took a day off to go to Nuremberg. It’s a city steeped in history, where they held the Nuremberg Trials dealing with war crimes shortly after World War Two.
We went to see the cathedral with its unbelievable architecture, and we visited the Imperial Castle, which is a bit like Edinburgh Castle as it’s also on top of a hill with some astonishing views of the city. We also went to a market which was selling everything from sausages to cheese to fruit. Nuremberg is an incredible place, and to be able to go there and soak up the history makes you feel very privileged, and very lucky.
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