Two time World Snooker Champion Mark Williams has enjoyed some glorious moments at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, but this week he has had to endure the wrath of the crowd there.
The Welshman’s foulmouthed Twitter rant on the eve of the tournament was not appreciated by not alone his paymasters, but also fans of the sport and his entrance to the Crucible for his match with Liu Chuang was ‘greeted’ with widespread booing from the crowd at the 800+ capacity venue.
Williams wore a sheepish look upon descending to ground level at what has been the home of snooker’s world championship since 1977. As a regular television viewer of the event, I cannot remember a time that a player has received such a hostile reception.
Shaun Murphy, who sprung to fame as an adopted son of nearby Rotherham, had to cope with abuse from a very small minority during the 2009 championship, at a time when he was going through a divorce. Two people were thrown out on that occasion.
Williams upset many fans with his expletive laden Twitter outburst last week, with the 37 year-old stating that the Crucible Theater was a ‘sh*thole’ and that he hoped the tournament would be played in China in the future.
Chairman of World Snooker; Barry Hearn described Williams’ statements as ‘absolute lunacy’ and that there was ‘no intention’ to move the world championship from its current home.
Williams is set to face a disciplinary committee, upon which he is certain to face a fine, though the damage to his reputation is what will be worst hit by this issue.
Referee Olivier Marteel even had to hush the crowd to allow the player introductions to continue as the crowd voiced their displeasure with the former world number one.
It was far from a welcome back for the champion of 2000 and 2003 who has expressed regret about his remarks but will not be allowed to forget them in a hurry.
Once at the table Williams quickly built a 6-3 lead against 21-year-old Liu, with breaks of 72 and 111 in the closing two frames of the first session putting the “Welsh Potting Machine” – who has been a professional for 20 years – in charge.