When is an embargo not an embargo…

The announcement that the World Championship is to stay at its spiritual home of the Crucible Theatre was greeted with delight from most quarters outside China – and probably even some from within that country who have sampled the atmosphere first hand.

A press release with a strict 7pm Sunday night embargo had been prepared in advance with quotes from World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Sheffield City Council leader Julie Dore proclaiming the decision to extend the deal by two years to 2017, the year that marks the 40th anniversary of the first staging.

A formal press conference was planned for 7pm at Alexandra Palace but the information surfaced on the ITV web site, presumably leaked from the Sheffield end, and that prompted Hearn to then go on the BBC mid-afternoon to confirm the news.

With journalists having also elicited the views of notable greats such as Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis, by the evening, there wasn’t much new information to be had.


Mark Selby has some form when it comes to after-final parties – but his celebrations after clinching a first world title probably topped the lot.

Victory at the 2012 UK Championship sparked an infamous all-nighter at the sports bar opposite the Barbican, with the Leicester Jester running through the Frank Sinatra songbook.

To label Selby a karaoke king might be harsh – he is actually a decent singer, as some of the videos taken in the early hours of Tuesday morning after the 18-14 Crucible final win over Ronnie O’Sullivan will show once put on Youtube.

Around an hour and a half into the party at the Mercure hotel in Sheffield Selby did his own version of Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars, putting the lead singer of the actual band to shame.

And as things got worse for the booked act but better for the audience, that was followed by further numbers in tandem with Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrain on drums including The Monkees’ I’m A Believer, REM’s Losing my Religion and the Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire.

Needless to say this all went down a storm with the assembled throng.


GREAT British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood was one of the many celebrities to drop in on the Crucible during the Dafabet World Championship.

The 47-year-old star of the popular and BAFTA award-winning BBC show is getting ready for Series Five which goes to air later this year, and made two visits to the tournament.

Hollywood was also in the middle of a whistle-stop tour of the country, which brought him to Sheffield after shows in Scotland before heading on the Midlands.

A big snooker fan, Merseyside’s Hollywood caught Ronnie O’Sullivan in action in his semi-final against Barry Hawkins.

He said: “I might even knock up a cake up for the winner. It could be anything they want.

“It could be a snooker table, the Crucible building or the world trophy – as long as they don’t mind lemon drizzle! That’s quick and easy.

“This was the first time I had come to the Crucible and it was amazing in there, so intense.

“Ronnie O’Sullivan has been one of the players I love to watch so it was lucky he was playing when I happened to be around.

“He always moves round the table like he needs to be going somewhere.

“I really like snooker, and have worked in a few hotels over the years with a table downstairs and had a quick game with the other chefs.

“My highest break is about 28 back when I was playing more, and I probably play more pool these days.”


The whole VIP hospitality operation cranks into gear for the last five days of the World Championship, and especially on the final Monday. As well as ordinary tickets other options include a Premium package and then the bumper VIP level hospitality. For your money (around £175-£200 per session) splashing out for this top echelon of treatment would get you a welcome drink and three-course meal with wine in the Crucible Corner restaurant; a meet-and-greet including photos and a tour with a legend of the game (Ken Doherty seemed very busy on the Monday morning); a picture with the World Championship trophy; and last but not least a World Snooker ‘goodie’ bag including a programme, and then a World Snooker pen, lapel pin, air freshener, key ring/bottle opener, sticker and branded stick of rock. What more could anyone want.


Day 17 of the Crucible marathon began in the media centre with various guided VIP tour parties being led through the room in a scene that very much resembled the public peering at the apes in the zoo. The bleary-eyed press posse, many of whom had been there for the duration plus the qualifiers, looked up from their coffee to hear the guide saying, with no hint of irony, “and this is the media centre where everyone sits and watches every ball and write all their stories and do their radio reports all about the key moment in every frame”. He obviously hasn’t been reading the right newspapers…