(#1) Rocket Man: Ronnie O’Sullivan

# 1… Ronnie O’Sullivan

Ladies and gentlemen, the all-time best on baize, the fastest on felt, the Essex Exocet, the cue king… Ronnie, “The Rocket,” O’Sullivan!

Watching Ronnie at his best, sober TV commentators can often be heard to purr, “snooker of the gods.” It is, I suggest, one of the most extraordinary observations that all of sport has to offer. The very idea of it! Zeus and company peeking down from Mount Olympus, not to watch some elemental battle between two boxers, say, or a gut-busting, sinew-straining sprint… but two men in waistcoats trying to get good position on the black. It ought to be hyperbole at its emptiest, a clear sign that for far too long Clive Everton and fresh air haven’t really mixed.

But, damn it, for O’Sullivan at his own elevated peak, it’s absolutely bang on the money. Yes, he might just be knocking about a cue-ball, and, yes, he might very well be sharing the stage with a Nigel Bond or an Alan McManus or a Graeme Dott – but such trifling things matter not a jot. As O’Sullivan’s trademark nickname usefully suggests, he rises above the hushed confines of his game with propellant ease. When fellow players refer to him as “a genius,” they’re right.

O’Sullivan can make a very difficult endeavor look very easy. And, what’s more, he plays fast, as if ever doing otherwise would somehow turn reckless talent into a chore. Perhaps for the same reason, he often plays left-handed, as well; his ambidextrous ability without any equal I can think of from one sport to the next. It’s never showing off, though. It’s something else altogether: the Rocket’s talent isn’t ‘merely’ special, it’s endlessly fascinating too – on account of his never knowing quite what to make of it. You sense it’s not just alien to us, but to him.

The background details of his life start to fill in some of the blanks. His dad’s spent the last 18 years in prison for murdering someone with a knife. He’s battled with depression, booze and drugs. He’s taken an interest in Buddhism, and Islam also. He runs six miles every day. In press conferences, he talks openly about a life of happy highs and horrible lows. He’ll win the World Championship and claim moments after he was ‘playing rubbish.’ He loves snooker. He hates snooker. It’s all he’s ever known. He never wants to play again.

Ronnie-watching, there’s never a dull moment. You don’t know what he’ll do next, because half the time he doesn’t either. A 147 in 5 minutes and 20 seconds: utterly absurd. Another day, instead of watching his opponent play, he sits with a wet towel over his head. The next, he just gives up and walks out, mid-way through a UK Championship quarter-final (to Stephen Hendry: “had enough of it, mate”). The next again, he’ll look for all the world like a player impossible to beat. He is sport’s best combination of perfection and it’s opposite. He’s the Rocket, and we’ll miss him when he’s gone.

About newjonnytransit

Same as ever, only better.
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11 Responses to (#1) Rocket Man: Ronnie O’Sullivan

  1. tricky says:

    you got all the way to the 5th one and then you ruined it all by forgetting that snooker isn’t a sport…

  2. Baggypance says:

    Excellent week of posts my friend… you should definitely keep this up! Next week, do your top 5 favourite movie scenes (or something along those lines).

  3. Treanor says:

    The possibilities are endless… Top 5 Springsteen songs; top 5 Springsteen cover artists; top 5 women mentioned in Springsteen songs; top 5 bands who have been influenced by Springsteen… Okay maybe endless was an exaggeration

  4. Rob Curtis says:

    Oh the Rocket man. Who, in front of an audience, packed full of fee paying fans, and a televised audience of millions, couldnt hit that 147 break. Why? Did he miss the black? Heavens no! It seems that the mere effort of potting a ball was not worth it for just a ‘few grand’….! Ronnie, it that one moment you exposed yourself for the true guy that you are. Not as a champion of the sport. Not as a plucky chap who relishes the adoration and support of his fans. No, as a greedy, self centred man who really should have behaved more as a gentleman.

    • Ok, I always write nice things when people comment (grateful for them, that’s why)… but since you’re family I think it’s fine to make an exception! What you suggest is total hogwash. Ronnie is the best thing in snooker by miles. His only real competition on this front is Jimmy the whirlwind White and Alex hurricane Higgins – and one of those is dead. Ask yourself this, would snooker be better or worse off without the rocket? Also, when was the last time you saw him advertise anything?! If money was all that he cared about, he could easily make more of it… But it isn’t. He just plays the game the only way he knows how – and sometimes that rubs people up the wrong way. Tough break. Ronnie makes snooker better: fact!

      Anyhow, thanks for the comment! Much appreciated.

  5. Rob Curtis says:

    He was still a bit of a (*insert expletive here) for not playing the game, as intended, on this given date, in front of fans who spent money to watch….

    Picture this other scenario. What if you had put a tenner or whatver down on this frame being a 147? I think, if he had opted to not play it you would feel majorly (*insert expletive here) and rightly so!

    This behaviour is indefensible, no matter how much of a ‘rocket fanboy’ you may be.

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