SMB – My yearly review part 1
” Hi everyone,
I wanted to have a look back at the yearand write down some of the highs and lows from my own point of view, both on the table and away from it.
2012 began for me down at Crondon Park Golf Club for Championship League snooker. This has developed into a really good event in its own right over the last few years and is now seen as not just a way into the Premier League but a strong stand-alone event and a good warm-up for The Masters. This was certainly the case for me last year as I was able to get some high quality match practice under my belt just before my trip to Ally Pally for The BGC Masters where I went all the way to the final, losing out eventually to Neil Robertson. This defeat was tougher than normal to take as it would have completed my set of career Majors, having already won the UK Championship and the World Championship earlier.
From London and the Ally Pally it was on to Berlin for the German Masters. This hasdefinitely become one of my favourite events over the last few years. It’s played in front of probably the most enthusiastic crowd we see all year and they really make us feel welcome in their city.
Berlin has become one of my favourite cities on our tour too, its history and café culture really appeals to me and other than NYC its one of the few places other than England where I could live. As it happened I did pretty well that week reaching the semi-finals but losing out heavily to Stephen Maguire.
A couple of weeks later it was down to Newport in Wales for the Welsh Open. It’s always good returning to Newport because it reminds me of my first few matches as a pro when I played there in the qualifying rounds. I remember going there when I was about 13 or 14 to shadow Jason Ferguson. His management company at the time allowed me complete access to him and behind the scenes and I got an early look at what being a pro meant. Someone even asked me for an autograph walking into the venue as I was carrying Jason’s cue but I didnt know what to do so I just signed it ‘Jason Ferguson’ and hurried in. Fast forward a few years and I was in the semi-final again, this time losing out to Ding Junhui.
I had a quiet few weeks after that and apart from a trip to Haikou for the World Open, a new event for us, I just spent my time practising. I had another few days down in Crondon for the Championship League and then it was straight on to China again for the China Open in Beijing. It certainly wasn’t my best week ever, losing out to Lu Ning in round one. I always think its a really long way to go to lose first round but I guess thats the nature of my job.
After the China Open everything became about preparing for the World Championship. Back in 2011 I had lost to Ronnie in the last 16 and was really determined to do well so I really practised hard, worked on my game and even had some new suits made. It all counted for nothing though as Jamie Jones played fantastically against me and thoroughly deserved tobeat me 8-10. So my girlfriend and I hot-footed it to New York for a few days away from it all. I find watching the snooker when I’m already out of the tournament one of the hardest things to do but I usually still end up in front of the tv to see the winner crowned. Of course this wasn’t the end to the season I was hoping for and it was hard to take, especially when I felt that my prep had been top notch, but you have to realise that in sport you can only try your best and sometimes that isn’t good enough.”
Part 2 will appear later in the week when I talk about golf, my 30th birthday party and thoughts on the first half of the season.