Crucible 2013: Thanks For The Memories

So as the curtain closes on another memorable 17 days in Sheffield, it is time for me to say thanks to all of the people who helped to make this year’s World Championship to be such a fun experience for me personally.

As I have said on many occasions, as a fan and as a blogger, my annual pilgrimage to the Crucible Theatre is about far more than just the snooker these days and is very much the highlight of my year.

Apologies to anyone reading who was not at the Crucible (indeed you can probably stop reading now), as well as those who I will inevitably forget to mention here…

It is something of a cliché and yet something that is probably impossible to fully appreciate unless you are at the heart of it, but when at the World Championship for any length of time, never mind the duration as I was in this year, you are very much at the epicentre of what we have now come to regard as the ‘snooker bubble.’

While everyday life of course goes on around you, with people walking around the city centre who have no interest in the snooker, or even knowledge that the tournament is going on, while at the Crucible you do come to recognise the same familiar faces, who return year after year, for session after session. Indeed it is easy to lose sight of what is going on in the outside world at times. 17 days is a long time, longer than an Olympic Games, while the staging of the qualifiers almost immediately beforehand effectively extends the length of the tournament to a month for those of us attending both events.

For me that is far from a bad thing, I love the feeling of the ‘snooker village’, that returned to the Crucible after last year’s rain afflicted tournament put something of a dampener on the atmosphere in 2012. It is always fun to be able to strike up a conversation with almost anyone around the venue, knowing that we are all there for the same reason – snooker.

Perhaps nowhere though is the sense of the snooker bubble more profound, than in the Crucible media room, where I was again fortunate to be able to spend much of this year’s tournament. My third year in there, second for the duration, it was for me by far my most enjoyable so far, as I got to catch-up with all of the familiar faces, as well as some new ones and knew what to expect, having been there before. The banter was as ever, top drawer and I was very much made to feel accepted by a great bunch of people there.

In no particular order, thanks then to Ivan from World Snooker for letting me loose in there for another year, as well as Hector Nunns, Jamie Broughton, Philip Studd, Rob Walker, Johnny Bryan, Ivan Speck, John Skilbeck, Neil Goulding, Charlie Talbot-Smith, Andy Dillon, Monique Limbos, Janie Watkins, Mark Rawlinson, Lauris Bērziņš and anyone else that I have omitted from my list.

As well as regulars Monique and Lauris, who are from Belgium and Latvia respectively, it was also a pleasure to meet a number of others who had come from overseas to cover the sport. In particular, Mike Fieldhammer had travelled from the USA to sample the atmosphere, while Italy’s Andrea Campagna had come from Italy and it was hard not to smile at the passion with which they both spoke about the game, despite being from countries that you would not associate with snooker.

One country that is known for its interest in snooker of course is China, however it is probably fair to say that having spent time with the excellent Nerissa Wang from this week, that only now do I appreciate quite how big snooker is over there. As well as Victoria, who is a familiar face in media centres on the snooker circuit, Nerissa does an excellent job for snooker in China and was also clearly enjoying her first trip to England.

As I say however, while I have been fortunate enough to spend time in the media centre, I am of course a fan at heart and have got to know a number of other Crucible regulars over the years with whom it was good to catch up with as always. Though I only see some of them once a year, it is always as if we had seen each other the day before and I look forward to seeing you again. In particular, Chris, Kellie, Maruta, Dan and all of the other regulars, always help to make the two weeks what it is.

A big thanks also to fellow blogger Roland from Snooker Island for helping to stop me from eating at McDonalds every day, as well as GaryOnCue who also came down for a few days in the second week and helped to raise the blogger count at the Crucible.

Furthermore, thanks to all of the players, their managers and the referees who have taken the time to chat this week, as well as the unsung heroes in the tournament office such as Mike Ganley and Martin Clark, without whom the tournament would not be the well-oiled machine that it very much is these days.

No doubt there are others whom I have carelessly forgotten (particularly those who I saw during the first week, which already feels like a distance memory), you all know who you are.

347 days until we get to do it all again…