Snooker: Snooker loopy, nuts are we

Karen and Glenys would die for Stephen Hendry, or at any rate go to Cleethorpes for him

In the city of The Full Monty, my taxi-driver bared no more than his soul. "It broke up me marriage did snooker. I used to play at t'working men's club three or four nights a week and t'wife threatened to leave me, like, but I never thought she would. Came home one night and she were gone. Took t'bloody car, too, the cow. Got it back, though. And t'funny thing is, I went down t'club t'night after she left and got me highest- ever break. Sixty-six. Missed a reet easy blue an' all." His name was Colin but everyone called him Woody, he said. Woody had never been to the Crucible except to drop off fares. "I prefer playin' to watchin'," he said. "I like that Tony Drago, though. That Malteser. He's reet fast round `table. Faster than 'urricane 'iggins, I reckon."

Woody dropped me by the stage door. It is easy to forget, during the World Championships, that the Crucible has a life outside snooker. My parents-in-law, who live nearby, went there once to see Amadeus. Maybe you've heard of it. It's a play about a guy called Mozart, the Ronnie O'Sullivan of the piano concerto. Which, on reflection, is a flattering comparison. After all, Mozart had turned 30 by the time he wrote Don Giovanni. But O'Sullivan was only 21 when he rattled in his 147 in the first round of the 1997 World Championship. It took him five minutes and 20 seconds, and remains the fastest maximum break ever recorded.

On Saturday, though, not even O'Sullivan, playing at the top of his form, could contain an almost robotically brilliant Stephen Hendry. Karen and Glenys must have been delighted. I met them last Wednesday, in the foyer of the Crucible. They are snooker groupies. Snoopies, if you prefer. And Hendry is their pin-up. "I've followed Stephen for seven years," said Karen, a 30-year-old travel agent from Wales. "He's got something none of the others have. He's just class. His century total says it all." "Does it?" I asked. "Oh yes," she said. "He's on 448, far more than anyone else. He's got 26 this season. He's sheer class. There's nobody else who even walks round the table like him. We're going to Cleethorpes next weekend to see him."

Karen subscribes to both Pot Black and Snooker Scene magazines. She is a member of the Stephen Hendry fan club, but considers it rather half- hearted. It issues only four newsletters a year, not enough to keep up with news of Stephen and his family. I wondered if she knew how old his son was. "He'll be three in October," she said. Is Stephen a Y-fronts or a boxer shorts man? Colgate or Macleans? Special K or Weetabix? She giggled. Two days after the murder of Jill Dando, it was perhaps not a good moment to be identified as an obsessive fan. But there was nothing threatening about Karen or Glenys. In fact, there was something rather heart-warming about the way their lives have been enhanced by the six- times world champion.

It was through their mutual devotion to Hendry that they became friends. They now share hotel rooms to cut costs and very often find themselves staying in the same place as their idol. Yes, they have even talked to him. "He's not so remote now," Glenys said. "But in the beginning I thought he was basically God, because of his ability to concentrate, which is absolutely amazing. Last year he lost his ability to focus, partly because of all that in-fighting within the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Stephen was very upset by that, you know." Glenys is a retired antiques dealer from Birmingham. She disapproves of the new Hendry fringe. "It grieves me and grieves us all," she said.

Later, in the arena, I spotted Karen and Glenys taking their seats in the third row, as Hendry prepared to finish off Matthew Stevens in the quarter-final. There were some shouts for Stevens, but Hendry didn't seem to mind. It was the same in the semi-final. He is perhaps sustained by the knowledge that Karen and Glenys would die for him, or at any rate go to Cleethorpes for him, which some might consider a similar sacrifice.

Moreover, he has the world featherweight champion, "Prince" Naseem Hamed, in his corner. Naz has declared himself Hendry's No 1 fan, although in truth he is at least No 3. But Karen and Glenys don't shake up the opposition like Prince Naseem. When Darren Morgan was playing Hendry, he had to ask for the boxer to be moved from the table-side VIP seats, because his presence was so intimidating. In some ways, though, there is nobody in sport more intimidating than the inscrutable Hendry himself. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if, at Naseem's next world title fight, his opponent asks for Hendry to be moved a few rows back.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition