My night at the Premier League Snooker in Sheffield

My review of night six of the Premier League is a bit different to my normal format due to the fact that I was there myself tonight, but hopefully you will find it interesting nevertheless…

First things first, if you want a more in-depth report about the matches themselves, please visit the Matchroom Sport website by clicking here.


Ok, well having driven over earlier in the day, I got to the venue at about 6:15pm, well over an hour before the matches were due to start. It was my first visit to the EISS so it was nice to get a feel for the place, hopefully I will be back there for the UK qualifiers in December.

Del Hill

Waiting around in the reception I immediately saw the unmistakable figure of leading coach Del Hill, who really is as tall in real life as he looks on TV! I asked him what he was doing there tonight to which he replied “coaching my favourites”, though I’m not sure who he would have been working with out of the four players in action. He was kind enough to stand for this photo as well as one with me, though unfortunately the person taking the shot made a bit of a mess of it.

As I was chatting to Del I saw none other than Mike Hallett turn up as he prepared for his commentary role with SkySports. I congratulated him on his run to the final of the latest PIOS event last week and again he stood for a photo. It was quite amusing at first as he seemed to think that I was a player or something, must have been the World Snooker fleece! Also had a chat with him about the main tour qualifiers at Pontins and he came across as a really nice guy, good luck to him.

Mike Hallett

Soon to follow Mike was fellow commentator Clive Everton who tipped O’Sullivan to win tonight when I asked him. I always end up asking Clive that, of all the players and people in the snooker world, I always end up being ‘starstruck’ around Clive and end up mumbling a stupid question to him!

Main tour ref Brendan Moore

Also watching the snooker tonight was local ref Brendan Moore who again was kind enough to pose for a photo.  He confirmed that he will be refereeing out in Bahrain for the tournament and also seemed like a nice guy. Seemed a bit surprised that I recognised who he was to be honest!

The arena

Anyway after hanging around in reception for long enough I decided to head in to make sure that I got a good seat. After trying out a few places in the arena I eventually settled on this view:

The arena

Seemed like quite a nice venue, reminded me a bit of the UK Championship when that was in York as again it was in the middle of a gym with some temporary seating in place. It was almost a sell-out and the crowd were in good voice as Sky presenter Andy Goldstein and the floor manager gave everyone the usual instruction to cheer madly when the players came out.

Stephen Hendry 4-2 John Higgins

It was quite funny as Goldstein announced Hendry, saying how he had started poorly this season and needed a win tonight because I could see Hendry and Higgins sharing a joke backstage at the same time. Perhaps Higgins was just giving him another reminder – as if he needed it.

With the struggling Hendry being my favourite player, I was hoping that he would find some form tonight but to be honest I was not expecting too much given how he has played so far this season. However, Hendry looked much better from the start tonight and encouragingly, took the opening frame in one visit after a poor attempt at a long red from Higgins. You could see that he wasn’t totally confident as nearly every pot seemed to wobble in off the jaws, but they went in and the 76 break was enough.

Hendry and Higgins await the start of frame six

Stephen just seemed to grow in confidence from there, again effectively taking frame two in one visit with a break of 69, though John did try to play for the one snooker he needed, before he left the green over the pocket.

The next two frames were shared as the play became more scrappy, but at least from Hendry’s point of view this secured him his first point of the campaign as he moved to 3-1.

All the drama was to come in frame five however as with Hendry really motoring and looking to seal the win, referee Paul Collier called a foul on him for what later turned out to be a supposed push shot. Hendry was visibly shocked and immediately turned round and disputed the decision, eventually sitting down with a bemused look on his face. Then though, John Higgins for a good 20 seconds seemingly refused to move from his seat, though I could not hear much of the conversation between him and Collier, only Paul saying “that is what it looked like to me and what I heard.” Having now seen the decision again on TV it looks very much like Hendry was correct and that Collier had made a mistake, but without the aid of a TV replay, the decision stood.

Stephen chats to Andy Goldstein following his win

Eventually Higgins played on, making a break of 56 before he missed a frame ball double to the left-centre pocket having run out position on the intended red. At this point though a frustrated Hendry came to the table and you just knew that he wasn’t going to miss. He knocked in a superb long red and it was evident that he really wanted to win the frame, given the row over the alleged push shot. This he did, snatching it on the final black with an excellent clearance of 48.

Though Higgins took the last frame to leave the final score at 4-2, it was Stephen’s night and by far his best performance of the season so far. Unlike his previous matches he did not miss an easy ball and kept his concentration at a very high level throughout the match. While not at his very best, he was visibly delighted at the end of the match and he will now be hoping to get back to winning ways on the ranking circuit, fingers crossed.

As an amusing sidenote, one of the funniest moments of the evening came during the post match interview after Stephen had said that at 39 he is not “past it” yet. SkySports’ Andy Goldstein quickly replied with “Speaking of being past it, next week you play Steve Davis” which everyone found highly amusing. Stephen didn’t quite know what to say!

Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-3 Mark Selby

Although I had mainly gone to see the first match, O’Sullivan v Selby was a rather nice bonus to have following it as the winner was guaranteed to finish the evening top of the league.

It was a strange match as neither player managed to really play consistently at their best, though O’Sullivan looked the stronger earlier on as he wrapped up frame one with breaks of 46 and 75. He really looked in the mood as demonstrated by a delightful positional shot on the final pink when he went round it through the smallest of gaps off two cushions.

As does O’Sullivan…

That said, although he eventually stole the second frame with a terrific pink and black after Mark Selby had wasted a chance to take it, he looked to be visibly frustrated with a few of his shots as he failed to take advantage of some good chances. Not the most patient player at the best of times, O’Sullivan was really expressing himself tonight, waving his cue around and pulling some strange faces. One of the things I love most about live snooker is watching the reactions of the players off-camera and it was certainly an intriguing watch tonight.

The funniest moment came in the next frame as O’Sullivan was becoming increasingly aware of the vocal support for Mark Selby in Sheffield tonight. Indeed it is probably the first time I have ever been at an O’Sullivan match where his opponent has had more support! After a missed pink and a few more shouts for Mark, Ronnie shouted “COME ON MARK!” much to the amusement of everyone in the arena! Selby’s face was a picture 😀 After his pot on the red it was his turn to say it too, though it did not help him too much as he let O’Sullivan in and the score soon became 3-1.

To Mark’s credit though, he wasn’t playing great by any means, probably his worst display of the Premier League season so far but he certainly knows how to fight. He wasn’t going to surrender his top spot in the league easily and won a lengthy fifth frame to give himself hope of salvaging a draw. This he managed to do in the final frame with his highest break of the evening, a terrific 94.

On reflection it was probably a fair result as although O’Sullivan probably played better, both missed too many shots to really deserve both points. I imagine this result will suit both of them really and it would be surprising not to see both of them in the play-offs come December…


Not too much to say post-match really, though I did bump into Clive Everton once again when walking to my car. He said that he enjoyed the evening and I mentioned that I am looking forward to the Snooker Scene podcast that was mentioned on Dave Hendon’s blog recently. He said the only problem is getting himself, Dave and Phil Yates all in the same studio at the same time as they’re always all over the place!

Overall though it was a great evening, always nice to see some top quality snooker in a fairly relaxed environment, the only disappointment being that we did not see a century break. Still though if anyone is thinking about going to the Premier League for a night, I would definitely recommend it.

Normal service with the match reports will be resumed next week as Joe Perry plays Ding Junhui and Stephen Hendry plays Steve Davis.

£4,000   Stephen Hendry 4-2 John Higgins   £2,000
76(76)-7, 72(65)-40, 24-61(56), 65(39)-12, 68(48c)-61(56), 25-60(52)
£3,000   Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-3 Mark Selby  £3,000
121(46,75c)-10, 60(47)-56, 41(37)-64(40), 71(64)-28, 5-98(41), 19-94(94)