Postcard from the Crucible media room

The tournament is well under way and today we are entering round 2 already. This morning there is no snooker and I thought I’d take the “spare time” to share some of my experience here as a “media” person. It’s been absolutely fantastic and I’d want to thank Grove Leisure and WPBSA for giving me this opportunity.

The very first thing I want to stress is how friendly the atmosphere is, especially considering that everyone is working extremely long hours under high stress. WPBSA officials are really helpful and work their utter best to give the media all the support they need, with a smile. They are working from 8h 30 around till the last ball is potted or press conference is over and that makes it 15-16 hours long days.

There is a lot of “unseen work” to be done. Clive Everton is often the first one to arrive and his first “task” is to go through the newspaper for every snippet of interesting news… Press cutting and building the “tournament wall” is one of those little things that are in fact great assets to the tournament.

The chinese media presence is quite strong and there is a permanent interpreter around to help with interviews and press conferences.

The technical staff are busy all the time, making sure everything is fine. There is a hell of a lot to do in fact. This goes from repairing the carpet to making sure the commentary boxes are in perfect working order, the tables are up to standard, the venue is clean and welcoming, the security aspects are covered in efficient but discrete way and last but not least … everyone is well fed (we are!) and get a proper supply of well needed coffee! Peter Ebdon yesterday, during his press conference, stressed how good the conditions have been this season, but expressed regrets that, for this event, the cushions, especially on table 2, were extremely bouncy. Well, this morning, very early this morning actually, after the matches, the fitters worked to “recushion” the tables in preparation for round 2. So hopefully that should be fixed.

One busy guy is Rob Walker. For each and every intro he’s preparing his little “tips” on paper looking for interesting and amusing details before going into the arena. No wonder he’s so lean (not skinny … 😉 ) he’s moving, running and buzzing 25h a day if not more!

Another aspect that needs to be highlighted is how much work the referees and the tournament director actually do. Before, during and after the matches. Their job is extremely demanding and I wish they would be put a bit more in the limelight as “characters” in the game because they are real characters. Most of them have another job. They can’t make a living on refereeing in snooker. This is called passion. Hats off guys!

The Crucible theatre is actually quite a small venue and I think it comes to a surprise to everyone coming here for the first time how “intimate” it is in fact. It looks much bigger on television. Everything is “small”… including the cubicles for the photographers. For Ronnie vs Liang’s match we were literally cramped in there like herrings in a can and it was so hot you’d think you were at the sauna! Mind you dew was forming on the lenses at one point!

Barry Hearn was here yesterday to “promote” his new “World Open” tournament. In fact we get a “champagne moment” every day, with announcements about new deals, projects, new or enhanced events and work in progress. Nice relaxed way to handle promotion of the sport!

Finally I have to say a word about the sponsor, Betfred, doing a great job to bring some fun into the event. Every day we get small “prediction” competitions to play in for a bottle of bubbles or a free bet. Lots of fun and until now Victoria, the Chinese interpreter, has been the overall grand winner.

You guessed it. It’s fun!