THE meeting of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams in the International Championship quarter-finals brought about much talk of ‘bogeymen’ in snooker.
Williams, of course, though a two-time world champion, came in to that match having not beaten the Rocket in a ranking tournament for 12 years.
Speaking ahead of the game Williams said in characteristically blunt but good-humoured fashion: “Ronnie has been a pain in my arse for 12 years.
“People say he’s my bogeyman, but to be fair he’s a lot of people’s bogeyman – and if you have to have one I’m happy it’s him.
“I was playing good stuff back in 2002 when I beat him at the Thailand Masters. He was always hard to beat but even harder for me now. He doesn’t play many events but he’s still by miles the best player in the world.
“And he has always got the better of me in that time, if it wasn’t for him I would probably have won four or five world titles because he has gone on to win them after beating me in the past.”
O’Sullivan’s take on the extraordinary sequence was that Williams was a player he had respected greatly in that time and prepared properly for – usually bringing his best game to the clashes.
And the five-time world champion immediately singled out the 1991 world champion John Parrott as his own career bogeyman.
O’Sullivan said: “It’s obviously a very good record to take in against a player, maybe you just feel comfortable against certain players.
“But I think one main reason is that I have a lot of respect for his game and know I must play my best snooker against him – plus he has also struggled a bit with his form recently.
“John Parrott is the one that stands out for me in my career, he beat me the first I can’t remember how many times.
“He just seemed to play really well against me. Everyone has a player that brings the best out of them.”
There can’t be many players with a winning record full stop against O’Sullivan, and given that fact Parrott’s achievement may never be matched.
In all competitions the Liverpudlian won six of his first seven encounters against O’Sullivan, including a 13-3 drubbing at the Crucible in 1994 in the last 16.
Even as late as 2000 Parrott, now a respected BBC commentator and pundit, scored a 6-3 Masters success over O’Sullivan at the Wembley Conference Centre.
Overall Parrott held a career winning record of 8-4 against O’Sullivan, with three 4-4 European League draws on top.
Photograph by Monique Limbos