Wow how about this folks, no blogs about Jimmy White for near on 50 years and now two in a week! If you’re an 80’s child and into your snooker, then it’s been a tough week. First Jimmy crashes out against Greene in the World Championship qualifiers, then Davis yesterday and now the Maltese Tornado Tony Drago is not only out but hasn’t secured a spot on the tour for next year. What goes on with players once they don’t have enough ranking points to enter the qualifiers. And why are people like Ding Junhui ranked 17th in the world, having to go through 3 qualifying rounds just to make it to the Crucible?
Over the last year I’ve been following the Jimmy White Fanatic on twitter He posts the movements of Jimmy White, his exhibition and qualifying tournaments and was even live tweeting at Ponds Forge last week where the qualifiers for the World Championship are taking place. After Jimmy’s defeat I managed to get a word with him about the match, how he met Jimmy, and what lies in store for the Whirlwind. The full audio is in the Youtube clip below, but here is a little taste..
Tell me about the Jimmy v Greene qualifier, I saw it on live stream but you were there?
The Jimmy match on the live stream is very raw, its one camera and its stripped bare. I assure you though I sat ten feet from the table and there was a large section at the Jimmy table, about 200 people, and when he went 9-7 up with the re-spotted black the place was rocking. Jimmy gave it the fist pump. There was something close to pandemonium.
What were the turning points?
Plenty of turning points though. When he was 4-2 up a rather hapless snooker official walked towards a fire-door that had been blown slightly ajar. Just as Jimmy was pulling the trigger on a safety shot this official closed it in an audible manner. Jimmy fluffed the shot as a result and lets just say he vented his frustration at this guy.
What did he say?
Two expletives. He’s the whirlwind, cut from the same cloth as Higgins. I’ll let you figure it out. However it still pumps through his veins. Its plain to see.
How did you get into Snooker, Jimmy especially?
I have my mother to thank, I’m an 80’s child so in my formative years, this game was hugely popular. On my 7th birthday I was given a small handheld pocket black and white TV. At the time I thought it was the bees knees, turned it on, on the hunt for sport, the one bit of sport I did find was a snooker match on BBC2 and Jimmy was in the early stages of hitting a century and he was doing it in his usual stylish fashion. I was hooked and here we are 27 years later.
What are your thoughts on the White/Hendry rivalry?
It wasn’t a rivalry that was so one sided, Hendry didn’t have white in his pocket the whole time. White beat Hendry on a host of occasions right through the 90’s in Hendry’s prime. It was a genuine rivalry, he didn’t have the kibosh on Jimmy by any means.
What about his season, and is he still on the tour for next year?
He only made 500 quid this season. It’s been a hard slog, however he’s turning 54 this month and if there is any other player that age playing better than Jimmy, I haven’t met him. Just one tour victory this season though for Jimmy this season against Oli Lines in the Shanghai Masters. But there have been 5 occasions this season where Jimmy has lost deciding frames against notable names; Maguire, Dott, Hawkins, had he won those 5 frames he would have been 15k better off and 40 places higher in the rankings. As for what’s next, last season he ended just outside the top 64, and that meant he would have dropped off the our if it weren’t for the fact that the European tour results that year meant he finished in the top 8 and the reward is a tour card – of which saved him. That tour card will expire at the end of next season so he will start again in May at the Indian qualifiers.
And what happens if he falls outside the top 64 after that?
This could be the last season of Jimmy’s careers which is quite a painful thing to say. Unless he can pull some results together. He needs to return to the top 64 or get into the top 8 from the European tour. He’s lingering 120 at the moment. Failing that, could be the end of the whirlwind. Or as a last resort Barry Hearn has created an honorary lifetime tour card for people that have given a level of success to the game, obviously Davis is in that category and Hendry too. Jimmy is still on the tour by merit but could get one if Hearn is feeling generous.