Allen Battles Depression

Away from Beijing today, it is being reported that Northern Ireland number 1 Mark Allen is currently suffering with depression and is seeing a counsellor in order to help him. Click below for more…

As reported over at Eurosport, Mark has said the following:

“We all live out of suitcases and, for me, it’s just come to a head,”

“I suppose, if I look back on certain things in my career, this has been coming for a long time. But more recently I’ve really felt more down than I ever have.

“Some days I wake up and I just can’t be bothered, I don’t have the motivation to do anything.

“It does get very lonely when you’re looking at the four walls of a hotel room for most of the year.

“I’ve been a professional for a few years now and all I’ve done since then is play snooker, I’ve known nothing else.”

“If I knew what the problem was then I would have sorted it, but I’ve been seeing a counsellor to see what the problem is.

“It helps to talk about how I’m feeling because when you’re on the road, or at a tournament, you don’t really have the chance to tell anyone how you’re feeling.

“I’d say I get on with 99 per cent of the other players, but to be honest everyone has their own routines and being a snooker player is a very lonely life.”

While I cannot profess to know Mark well, I have had the pleasure of meeting him around the Crucible on various occasions since 2007 and he has always come across as a nice, down to earth guy who always has time for the fans. Indeed of all the players he is among the most comfortable going in and out of the venue via the main entrance and can usually be seen wearing a red Manchester United football shirt when not playing, watching their matches in the surrounding bars.

That said, from the outside it is rarely easy to know what is going on behind the scenes and so perhaps the news should not come as that much of a shock. While his recent results too have been erratic, I have to say though that the news has surprised me nonetheless and I hope that whatever steps he is taking to treat it have the desired effect sooner rather than later.

From a snooker point of view with the Crucible coming up, I am not sure whether it is a good time for the news to come out or not, indeed there are echoes of the situation that Graeme Dott found himself in back in 2008 when he came close to withdrawing from the tournament.

Looking at the rankings, it is evident to me that barring a series of defeats for the players around him, Mark will have to win a tough opener against Matthew Stevens in Sheffield if he is to retain his top 16 status at the end of the season. Enough pressure for a player on the top of his game, in light of today’s news my immediate reaction would be to install Stevens as a warm favourite to come through, but you never know what effect it might have. Indeed although Graeme Dott lost his opener in 2008, he actually put in an impressive performance and the match appeared to mark something of a turning point for him.

Whatever happens on the table is almost inconsequential compared to his health however and hopefully he will soon find himself in a better place.

To read David Hendon’s take on the matter over at Snooker Scene, please click here.