While trying to contain a Ding Junhui onslaught in their Betfred World Championship semi-final, Alan McManus has admitted to concerns over participation levels among youngsters, and also dedication levels among even those that do play.

The 45-year-old from Glasgow became the oldest player to reach the last four in Sheffield since Ray Reardon 31 years ago with his shock win over John Higgins in the quarter-finals.

McManus made clear prior to the contest, his first Crucible semi-final for 23 years, that he was determined to enjoy the experience and fully soak in the atmosphere.

The veteran (though he hates the term!) has himself acted as a mentor to the 25-year-old Anthony McGill, seen as a possible winner of titles in the future.

But the former Masters champion, whose unbridled enthusiasm has led to his longevity and career Indian summer, fears his protégé’s positive attitude is an exception and that too many young players are hooked on the internet, or failing to put in the graft.

Ironically his comments suggest that Twitter, social media and the internet are far greater signs of a ‘mis-spent youth’, a tag for so long laid at snooker’s door.

McManus said: “I've always said it's the internet which has unfortunately brought us to this stage.

“Young people don't play snooker now as much as they did when I was a kid and when Stuart Bingham, Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Davis and the list goes on.

“That's the reason. Other people can make up a reason if they want but the fact is if you want to be a good player you need to play and need to play early and learn early.

“There's no point in talking about it and typing about being a good player which a lot of people do these days unfortunately. They type about 'I'm doing this that and the other'.

“Don't type about it, get your cue out, practice and then go and play and then you might be good. That's the culture of life now with social media, unfortunate as it may be.

“I was one of those that needed a kick yup the backside, hard work is the only way you're going to get anything out of this game.

“Ants [McGill] is a throwback. He's a sponge for learning and tips, as I still am, and he wants to know what he should be doing out there. Other guys think they know what to do.

“Watch older players and see how they practice, it's real hard stuff. You don't pick balls up and pot them all anyone can do that, that's easy.

“I read a report about Juan Mata was saying about that at Manchester United, he said he despairs at the young guys coming in now who've done nothing in the game and they're driving in Ferraris and acting like Jack the Lad.

“Football is different, we don’t have that money, but I know what he means and a work ethic is so important to succeed in sport.”


Photograph by Monique Limbos