JUDD Trump raised a valid enough debating point through a haze of disappointment following a Crucible quarter-final defeat to Neil Robertson that saw the Australian become the first man to reach the almost mythical ‘century of century’ breaks in a single season.
The 24-year-old could certainly be excused for wanting to leave the arena and attempt to re-focus with the audience in a frenzy following Robertson’s break of 101 to square the contest at 11-11. There was a match with a huge prize in the balance still at that time, and Robertson said afterwards he would have done the same thing.
Perhaps Trump could have walked over and shaken his hand on the way out, because the reaction inside the Crucible on its own told the story that something of note had just occurred. But Trump in his post-match comments insisted that he would have done so for a 147, however did not consider that Robertson’s feat was as worthy an achievement.
Views will differ on that. It seems to me that the milestone break setting a record that may never be matched, coming as it did on the game’s biggest stage, was worth some acknowledgement but it wasn’t the worst crime in the world with no precdent and stable-mate Robertson was not unduly put out.
Trump said: “If it was a maximum I would have gone over and shaken his hand. It is a great achievement but you can look at it how you want. 100 centuries doesn’t mean anything to me, in my eyes it isn’t as big as a maximum but for others it may be. I did congratulate him at the end of the match.”
Robertson: “I would rather have made the century of centuries here than make a 147 at the Crucible, it was that important to me. No one will ever make 200, others will have a go at the 100 but I will always be the first. I have made a couple of 147s, and they were nowhere near as big an achievement.”
But if this was one of the great Crucible moments, then why? To fully realise this you probably have to been keeping an eye on Robertson’s progress on the centuries. The ‘will-he, won’t-he’ question has been in play for many months given the early-season strike-rate.
And once the saga moved to Sheffield, with seven needed, the anticipation only heightened with the knowledge that if history was to be made it would occur at the World Championship itself. Four centuries were duly tucked away against Robbie Williams but despite two more a brace of excellent chances when well clear of Mark Allen went begging.
The expected century-fest against Trump did not materialise, Robertson looked as if he could be heading home at 11-8 adrift, and the window was closing. Then with Robertson admitting himself after he had given up on it, he produced a stroke of genius in the heat of a real dogfight. The explosion from Robertson, and the crowd, was fuelled by the knowledge this very nearly didn’t happen. And Robertson’s glee and satisfaction stemmed not just from the fact that he had done it – but that he had done it at the Crucible.
For what it’s worth, my own view is that you can’t kid the public, and in particular the knowledgeable Crucible crowd. They knew. And they erupted exactly as they would – and have – for some of the great maximum breaks at the famous venue over the years, if not more so. It topped an incredible day, one of the very best snooker has served up in recent years.
And those fans who started the evening rueing the early finish between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Shaun Murphy probably ended up the luckiest of all, with the partition raised and all eyes on Robertson’s astonishing feat and eventual victory.
Photographs by Monique Limbos