THURSDAY night saw the fifth staging of the World Snooker Awards at London’s Dorchester Hotel – and it was another big evening for Stuart Bingham.
The new world champion, whose feet have hardly touched the ground since Monday night, walked away with more trophies as he picked up the double of Player of the Year, and Snooker Journalists’ Player of the Year.
In a season with the tour silverware spread around and several player in with strong claims going in to the Betfred World Championship, Bingham’s brilliant 18-15 final win over Shaun Murphy almost certainly proved the difference.
The 38-year-old from Basildon had of course won big in Shanghai earlier in the season – but others, notably Murphy, Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Ronnie O’Sullivan also won major titles and were in the winners’ enclosure more than once.
The players to win the big prizes and the major baubles on the night were in attendance together with their wives and partners, which always makes these awards much more of an occasion – joining World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn, other officials, broadcasters and media, sponsors and others.
And in front of around 400 invitees host, snooker fanatic and talkSPORT/TV presenter Andy Goldstein got things going and also provoked one or two shocked gasps with a sharp-shooting opening monologue very much out of the Ricky Gervais/Golden Globes drawer.
The targets were many and varied, with BBC Head of Sport Barbara Slater smiling off a sustained assault on the BBC’s much criticised use of the red button, and the largely taboo subjects of Stephen Lee and Michaela Tabb getting an airing.
By comparison Hearn’s ‘state of the snooker union' address was almost understated. Almost.
With the opening skirmishes done and dusted those having made 147s this season were recognised in the form of O’Sullivan, Marco Fu, Trump, Aditya Mehta, Murphy, Ben Woollaston, Ryan Day, David Gilbert and Barry Hawkins.
With the assembled throng well into the chicken liver parfaits, shoulder of lamb and the red wine, Bingham picked up his first trophy of the night from the Snooker Journalists.
There were video montages of many of the highlights of an outstanding season on the baize, and a moving personal insight into the incredible work of World Snooker’s charity, the Bluebell Wood children’s hospice in Sheffield.
Various fundraising initiatives took place on the night, with a silent auction bidding for prizes including the set of balls used in the world final, and tickets to sporting and music events – and then a far-from silent auction fronted by the 1991 world champion John Parrott.
Parrott was installed in the Hall of Fame along with Mark Selby – and Oliver Lines was named rookie of the year for his first season as a professional, with proud dad Peter in the room to see his son honoured.
Fans’ player of the year went to Trump, and O’Sullivan collected the ‘magic moment’ gong for his 776 career century made at the Masters, and the one that broke Stephen Hendry’s longstanding record.
Joe Perry deservedly picked up Performance of the Year for winning his first ranking title at the grand old age of 40 and in his 24th year as a professional in Thailand, with his PTC Finals success.
And Bingham then also won the night’s major award, the World Snooker Player of the Year, for winning a first world title to add the campaign’s wins in Shanghai, Haining, and Crondon Park with the Championship League.
A good night was had by all, and many of the revellers headed off to the after-party to continue the merriment well into Friday morning.
Photograph by Monique Limbos