I was back at the Crucible Theatre on Friday 24th April 2015 for my second live session of this year’s World Snooker Championship between Mark Allen and Barry Hawkins.
Living in Sheffield means that even when I’m not going to watch the snooker live at the Crucible, I often pass the surrounding area as part of daily life. At this time of year, it can lead to bumping into some of the biggest stars of the sport and Thursday saw one of these occurrences when, in a ridiculous stroke of luck, I just happened to pass Steve Davis and John Higgins – two men with a ten world titles between them – chatting in the street!
It was an opportunity too good to turn down and I approached them with the request of a selfie – one which they both happily obliged to, giving me on of my best ever snooker photos in all my years of visiting the Crucible!
The next day I returned to the Crucible once again, this time to watch my second live match of the tournament – the opening session of the 2nd round game between Mark Allen and Barry Hawkins.
Arriving at the venue just as the morning session reached it’s conclusion, I spotted Anthony McGill being congratulated by a couple of fans after storming to a 10-6 lead against reigning World Champion Mark Selby. Knowing the ability of his opponent, he calmly informed the fans that “I’ve not won it yet!”, but he clearly enjoyed being in the limelight and deservedly so after a couple of excellent performances on his Crucible debut.
After catching us briefly with some of the regular snooker faces – including Pro Snooker Blog’s Matt, Kellie, Michelle and front row Brian – it was time to head into Snooker’s most famous venue for the afternoon session of day seven.
Mark Allen and Barry Hawkins had both come through tough matches against qualifiers to reach this stage.
On paper, Allen had been handed one of the toughest draws as he came up against former world number 6 Ryan Day. However, after trailing 3-1, the Northern Irishman had stepped it up a gear and incredibly won nine consecutive frames to romp to a 10-3 victory.
Things had been a bit tougher for former World finalist Hawkins, who faced Matt Selt in Round 1. It looked as if it was going to be a comfortable victory when he led 9-4, but an amazing fightback from Selt saw him force a decider with breaks that included 102, 109 and 94. However, Hawkins did exceptionally well to hold himself together and earn his place in the next round by winning a tense deciding frame.
This set up a meeting between Allen and Hawkins – clearly two professionals who get on very well, as was clear by the chatting and joking as the entrances were made and during the early stages of this second round contest – something that’s nice to see!
It was the man from Northern Ireland who took the opening frame of this best of 25 with a 65 break, before making it 2-0 with 63 after Hawkins was forced into a hit and hope shot to get out of a tricky snooker.
But Hawkins hit back and won a half-hour third frame with a break of 76. He then made sure that the scoreline would be level at the interval by comfortably winning the fourth frame of the afternoon.
It was a tight affair between two of the game’s top players – sharing the next two frames to go 3-3. However, Allen took the final two frames of the session, which included a break of 96, to give himself a 5-3 lead overnight in this close fought contest.
As always, a session at the Crucible is a very enjoyable way to spend an afternoon! And when the snooker rolls into town, you’re never very far away from the stars of the game. As was proved, once again, when I bumped into 1979 World Champion Terry Griffiths as I headed home – but not before getting a selfie with him, of course!