Going to pot

Regardless of other sporting disasters, Scotland still leads the world on the snooker table. As the world's best head to Aberdeen, ALAN McMANUS weighs up his game.

Words Lorin McDougall

Photo Richard Maw/ln-Focus

Twenty years ago, the legendary Fred Davis was still a world-class snooker player at the ripe old age of 64. Since then. the sport has evolved dramatically into a young man‘s game rather than a pastime for the middle-aged. Such has been the transformation that Scotland‘s Alan McManus at 27 - might soon be regarded as a veteran. while 40-year-old Steve Davis is now facing opponents who had yet to be born when he turned professional.

‘Someone of eighteen can be as good as any of the top players.’ says McManus. ‘But l wouldn‘t exactly say I’m that old John Parrott. for example. is in his early 305. and he’s still up there amongst the best in the world. I’ve never been a crash-bang-wallop type player because I was coached from a young age. and the style of play when I was growing up was that of Steve Davis. Consistency is of number one importance to me. I feel you achieve that by playing a percentage game. and I’ve proved that over the years at the top level.’

Despite his canny, no-risk approach at the table. the Glaswegian is not a dour character. On the contrary. each summer he keeps himself fit by roller- blading in local parks and. like fellow Scot John Higgins. he is a keen Celtic fan. However. with career prize. money of over £12 million. snooker is clearly his forte. The ultra-consistent McManus has been a fixture in the world’s top ten for most of the 90s. winning a string of titles including the 1994 B&H Masters.

He is currently competing in the Scottish Open in Aberdeen, and is desperate to banish memories of his last major appearance in Scotland. ‘I really should have won in Motherwell last October. but I quickly got that out of my system.’ he says of his 9-8 defeat at the hands of Nigel Bond. ‘Having a ranking event in Scotland makes a nice change. The event was a big success last year, with great crowds. We don’t always get that at other venues. so I hope it becomes a permanent feature on the circuit. I like to get home during tournaments. but

84 THE L|8T 20 Feb-S Mar 1998

me.’ Alan McManus

'l've never been a crash-bang- wallop type player. Consistency is of number one importance to

.‘ JV; 1!; risk“;

.v rt- will». .A 04 Head of the cue: Alan McManus prepares for the Scottish Open

you can only do that if you have three or four days between matches. No one knows how tnuch time we’ll have between the first and second round. so I’ll probably stay up in Aberdeen.

‘lt’s so competitive now. and reputations count for nothing.‘ McManus continues. although on paper the top two in the world remain countrymen Stephen Hendry and John Higgins. ‘l know them both well and we’re all very friendly after winning the World Cup for Scotland in I996. I like to see as many Scots involved as possible the more the merrier.’

McManus is also convinced that Hendry remains the one to beat. despite a poor run of results for the defending Scottish Open champion. Earlier this month. Hendry lost the B&H Masters to Welshman Mark Williams on a re-spotted final frame black. but McManus ~ who also lost to Williams at Wemblcy has a positive message for his old rival.

‘lt's silly for anyone to suggest that he's not as good as he was.’ says McManus. ‘People who say he’s struggling don't need to face him on the table. For me. he's still the best player out there.’

The Regal Scottish Open at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre runs until Sun 22 Feb and is broadcast on Sky Sports.

Events are listed alphabetically by sport. then by da . Fixtures are correct at time o publication, but may be affected by weather. Sports listings compiled by Brian Donaldson.

Bank Of Scotland Scottish Junior Championships l’ii 2tl~Sun 22. Summit Centre. Minerva Way. liitmieston. Glasgow 10am. 'l he final stretch has now been reached \\ ith the finals day looming and the trophies being given a healthy shine in preparation for the top men and ladies in this junior extravaganza. Call the Royal Caledoniatt Curling Club on ()I3l 556 2272 for full details.


Saturday 21


Celtic v Kilmarnock Celtic Park. KL‘ll'\'(l(llC Street. Glasgow. 3pm. Dunfermline v Dundee United East lillLl Park. Ilalheath Road. Dunfermline. .‘plll.

Hibs v Rangers Iiaster Road Stadium. Albion Road. Edinburgh. 3pm. Motherwell v Hearts Fir Park. Firpark Street. Motherwell. 3pm.

St Johnstone v Aberdeen McDiarmid I‘ark. (,‘rieff Road. Perth. 3pm. SCOTTISH FIRST DIVISION

Ayr United v Stirling Albion Somerset I’ark. Tr) field Place. A) r. 3pm.

Dundee v Airdrie Dens Park. Sandeman Street. Dundee. 3pm.

Hamilton Accies v St Mirren Cliftonhill Stadium. Main Street. Coatbridge. 3pm. Morton v Raith Rovers Cappielow Park. Sinclair Street. Greenock. 3pm. Partick Thistle v Falkirk Firhill Park. Iiithill Road. Glasgow. 3pm.

Tuesday 24


Dundee United v Hibs Tannadice Park. Tannadice Street. Dundee. 7.30pm. Kilmarnock v Rangers Rugby Park. Rugby Road. Kilmarnock. 7.30pm.

Wednesday 25


Celtic v Dunfermline Celtic Park. Kerrydale Street. Glasgow. 7.30pm. Hearts v Aberdeen Tynecastle Park. Gor ie Road. Edinburgh. 7.30pm.

Mot erwell v St Iohnstone Fir Park. Firpark Street. Motherwell. 7.30pm. SCOTTISH FIRST DIVISION

Falkirk v Ayr Unlted Brockville Park. Hope Street. Faikirk. 7.30 tn.

Morton v Hamilton Acc es Cappielow Paik. Sinclair Street. Greenock. 7.30pm. Partick Thlstle v Dundee Firhill Park. Firhill Road. Glas ow. 7.30pm.

Raith Rovers v A rdrle Starks Park.

Pratt Street. Kirkcaidy. 7.30pm. St MIrren v Stirling Albion St Mirren I—‘ark. Loxc Street. Paisley. 7.30pm.

Saturday 28

SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE Aberdeen v Kilmarnock Pittodrie Stadium. Pittodrie Street. Aberdeen. 3pm. Dunfermllne v Motherwell East End I’ark. Halbeath Road. Dunfermline. 3pm. Hlbs v Celtic Easter Road Stadium. Albion Road. Edinburgh. 3pm.

Rangers v Hearts lbrox Park. Edmiston Drive. Glasgow. 3pm.

St Johnstone v Dundee United McDiarmid Park. Crieff Road. Perth. 3pm.