With so many tournaments packed into the season calendar these days, tickets to watch live snooker have become more accessible than ever before.
The sport has taken a huge transformation under Barry Hearn’s takeover of World Snooker and players now compete for vast sums of prize money to an amount which may have been unthinkable ten years ago.
Snooker’s rise has no doubt attracted a bigger audience and fan base all over the world – and you are probably likely to see the different type of fans when you go and see the top players in action.
Here The Old Green Baize takes a tongue-in-cheek look on the types of crowds who watch the games and who you may come across.
The regulars – as seen on TV
If you watch snooker regularly you’ll know that the sport has several dedicated fans who travel the globe to watch the major competitions as the season ticks by.
Some of these have become ‘famous’ themselves for being regular watchers of the game.
For example, Brian Wright is known in the snooker world for sitting in the front row at the Crucible during the World Championship for many years.
Sometimes he will appear in a Coventry City shirt though this year he couldn’t as football shirts were banned. Mr Wright is such a big fan of the sport – he even proposed to his partner at snooker’s famous home and is indeed getting married there next year.
Other regular audience members include Kellie Barker and Chris Smedley – otherwise known as ‘Front Row Chris’ in the Twitter world. When you are at a World Snooker event you may come across these snooker lovers.
Those who wear the commentary ear-pierces – but have them on annoyingly loud
Like cricket, it is now possible to hear TV commentary and watch a snooker match live at the same time.
TV commentary ear-pieces are available to buy at some of the sport’s major competitions – mainly the ones which are shown by the BBC such as the World Championship, UK Championship and The Masters.
If attending one of these events you’ll see many during the game wearing an ear piece. This obviously adds further insight for the audience member while seeing the action unfold in front of their own eyes.
However, you may come across one or two who will have them on way too loud. Sometimes they are so loud the players themselves complain to the match referee and request for those responsible to turn them down.
If you are watching without an ear-piece but you can hear one loudly close by – it can be a rather distracting and irritating experience.
The ones who quietly talk through every shot
Snooker is loved by many people and everyone thinks it looks so easy when you see it live or on the television.
We all know this is never the case but it is not unusual to hear audience members talk through (or whisper) what a player will do before they play a shot.
You may likely come across someone who will whisper how a player will play his next shot – as if they are an expert of the game.
Though this shows that they are enticed to the action, it can be quite annoying to those who want to watch the drama without second guessing what will happen.
The ones who don’t have their mobile phone turned off
It happens in every tournament.
At some stage a player will be forced to pause his shot because he will hear a mobile phone go off just before striking the cue ball.
The issue has become a big problem in recent years because of the amount of times it happens.
Though there are warnings before play starts, it is not unusual to hear at least one mobile phone go off during the match – causing embarrassment and frustration.
And there are those you’ll see use their phone during play. Their phone will not go off but they are likely to be Tweeting or Facebooking something or to take a quick picture.
SWITCH THEM OFF!
The ones that don’t know snooker – but are at a snooker match!
You’re also likely to come across someone who is there but doesn’t actually know the game. Or at least it appears that way.
You may here someone ask their companion the most basic of questions which makes you ponder why they are watching a snooker match in the first place.
This maybe “which colour ball is next?”, “what happens when the white goes in?” or “how many points is the red ball worth?”.
Obviously there may be children asking these questions which is fantastic but it is not uncommon to hear adults asking them too.
The sweet wrapper merchants
For most people watching the snooker is just like a trip down to the cinema – waiting in anticipation for the action to unfold.
This means preparation is key.
Look out for those who come in ready with bags of Maynards Wine Gums, Fruit Pastilles, Galaxy Minstrels, Starbursts (or Opal Fruits as they were known back in the day), Maltesers and many more.
Sometimes the wrapping of sweets can interfere the players.
Or if you’re in a World Championship final like Mark Williams was earlier this year – they can be prove to be a very handy ingredient.
The odd celebrity or two
If it is a big tournament then you may come across a famous face in the crowd catching all the action.
Snooker has many famous fans, always keep your eye out – they could be one sitting near you!
Unless you’re watching the Snooker Shoot Out, audiences have to be relatively quiet while play is taking place.
But there are times when the situation of the match gets the better of some and shouting/heckling can occur.
The shouting is mainly a “come on” phrase to show their support for a particular player which can be ok if its a one-off but if the shouts become frequent and you’re close to it can be irritating.
And on the very rare occasion – like in the below YouTube clip – unnecessary and untoward heckling can get one kicked out of the venue.