Mark Selby wasn’t exactly snooker’s Cinderella as he couldn’t quite wrap up victory by midnight but he did win the UK Championship, and winning is what matters in sport, whether it’s through a dazzling display or a right old dogfight.
This was the latter. Much will be made of Shaun Murphy’s missed blue with a chance to close to 7-8 but he may reflect that it was the last two frames of the opening session which proved most costly.
Selby was struggling at this point. Murphy won the 53 minute sixth frame to lead 4-2 but that frame seemed to affect his rhythm and he could not maintain the momentum. By winning these two frames, Selby stayed in touch.
The evening session was generally low in quality but high in drama and excitement with sundry close frames.
Snooker is a tough game at the best of times but when the pressure is on it becomes almost unbearably difficult.
Selby did improve as the evening wore on whereas Murphy will be disappointed he couldn’t produce the same stirring comeback he conjured against Ali Carter. Put simply, not enough went in.
So Selby ends 2012 as world no.1 and UK champion, a satisfying return for someone whose very future was under threat at the start of the season due to his neck injury.
A bunch of people Mark will never meet don’t seem to like him but they should know that he doesn’t care. Neither should he. He’s got to where he is in life through sheer hard work. He’s happy and successful. He’s a winner.
As he spends the £125,000 winners’ cheque – a record for the UK Championship – the Jester can once again have the last laugh.
Murphy was gracious in defeat and this isn’t easy. He seems to just love being part of it all, win or lose. It’s a boyhood dream after all.
It was another late finish. Why? Because it was a late start.
The BBC attracted one of its biggest audiences for years when they started the final session of the 2011 world final at 7pm but seem unmovable on the 8pm start time for all other finals.
The central problem is that they don’t want a runaway final to be swamped by, say, the X Factor final but people have work or school or tiredness to think about and it’s surely time for a rethink.
One final thought: I didn’t personally hear a single mobile phone go off all week. For this alone the tournament should return to York next year.