The world number one snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan has been accused of being a sexist after he responded to criticism from former World Snooker chairman Steven Hallworth.
Steven Hallworth talks bar work, life on an RAF base and Ronnie O’Sullivan response.
Steven Hallworth is a snooker player who is on the rise.
Steven Hallworth is the only player in snooker who spends his days on an RAF station and his nights working in a bar, but he wouldn’t alter either scenario as he continues to rise up the ranks.
The 25-year-old went pro in 2014 and returned to the tour last year, where he is making an impression following a strong debut season back in the top league.
There were some remarkable triumphs against Yan Bingtao, Martin Gould, and Hossein Vafaei, before three solid victory in the World Championship qualifiers saw him finish just one match short of the Crucible, making him a very respectable season.
Hallworth gets to spend his practice hours in a unique environment thanks to his hard work at RAF Waddington.
‘My father was in the military here for 24 years,’ Hallworth said of his Royal Air Force ties to Metro.co.uk. ‘There was usually a snooker room in the Sergeant’s Mess; I used to come up on Sundays and that’s when I initially became interested in snooker.’
‘When I became professional at the age of 18, I bought a Star Table, and they said I could put it in here, which is fantastic since I have my own snooker room.’ Because it is a purpose-built snooker room, it always plays well.
‘I normally have people over as often as possible, but the whole camp is under lockdown, so I can’t sign anybody in, which is really crazy.’
‘It’s just necessary staff, and it’s a ghost town for me.’ So I’m on my own or I go somewhere else; I’ve been practicing a lot with Michael Holt in Nottingham.’
Snooker is another popular sport
While Hallworth’s practice environment is unique, he is in a similar situation to many other players in the lower ranks in that earning money outside of snooker is a viable possibility.
Outside of the top, the reality of the sport are that it may be tough to earn a livelihood, with the added pressure of having to win prize money making the game much more difficult.
Last season, Hallworth earned £27,500 in prize money, which is a decent sum, but when you factor in travel and accommodation expenses, as well as the fact that prize money is distributed in unexpected spurts throughout the year, it makes sense to have a secondary source of income.
Not just to keep the money account afloat, but also to retain a social element that hours at the practice table lack.
‘It’s lonely, I’m here eight hours a day on my own, it’s a little lifeless,’ Steven said of his Lincolnshire practice sessions. ‘However, I like working in the evenings since it allows me to talk to people, meet new people, network, and laugh.
Hallworth made his professional debut early in his career, but has since improved as a player.
‘I don’t work at the bar to exhaust myself; I simply do enough to pay the bills, and snooker is my main focus.’ I’ve met a lot of interesting individuals there, and I’ve also had sponsorship from working in the bar, so it’s really benefited my snooker.
‘Buying a home, paying a mortgage, and having to mature. It’s good to know that work exists and covers the bills; it relieves a lot of stress. Many individuals don’t have anything to fall back on, and that adds to the strain, which is already high on tour.
‘It’s a comfort blanket, and I really like it.’ If I keep climbing the ranks, I’ll probably still want to work a few shifts since it gives me a different perspective on things.’
Hallworth is doing well in his snooker career, and he acknowledged that Ronnie O’Sullivan’s recent remarks that the game is a “waste of a life” for most players were difficult to hear.
The Skellingthorpe man understands how tough the sport is on a mental, physical, and financial level, but wants the game’s greatest star will exude more enthusiasm for it.
‘He is correct in saying that snooker is the most difficult sport in the world,’ Steven remarked. ‘We’re on our own a lot of the time; you just have to cope with it, adapt, and find other things to help you deal with it emotionally and physically so you can progress.’
‘He’s a huge snooker name, the biggest we’ve ever had, but would he be in the position he is now if it weren’t for snooker? You have no idea, but snooker has given him so much in his life, things for which he should be grateful, and he could give back more to the game.
‘He is a game ambassador and should be promoting snooker to all children across the globe.’ If you’re a young kid looking up to Ronnie and Judd [Trump], the fantastic players we have, and you hear comments like that, suggesting to stay away from snooker, it’s not exactly encouraging people to join, especially at the grassroots level.
‘We’re all trying to make it in snooker, we’re all working towards the same long-term objective, and we’re putting in the hours.’ No one expects to be as good as Ronnie, and I don’t believe anybody will ever be as good or talented as he is, but if we can go anywhere, fight for championships, and earn a living off the game, there are a lot worse things we could be doing.’
In terms of Hallworth’s game, he begins his season in the Championship League on Tuesday, July 27th, and, since he is in the second and last year of his tour card, he intends to play professionally throughout the season.
He is sure that he will accomplish so, either by breaking into the top 64 for the first time (he is now ranked #69) or by making the one-year ranking list, which he will achieve if his growth continues.
‘To be honest, I felt good last year,’ he remarked. ‘If anything, I thought my results didn’t represent how wonderful I was feeling. I had a couple of tight losses, 4-3 and 5-4, and [Anthony] McGill defeated me 6-4 in the UK, but I was able to save the season at the Worlds.
‘I’m disappointed I didn’t make it to the Crucible, but all in all, it was a good campaign; I met my personal objectives, so all I have to do now is keep going.’
‘Really, I need to go to that number 64 position.’ If that fails, equal, if not improve, last season’s performance, and that should be enough to keep me on the one-year list. Top 64, on the other hand, is the objective since it allows you to retain your money on your ranks.
‘I’ve been doing some excellent work; there have been a number of tight defeats, but it only goes to show how high the level is.’ It’s difficult to take, but you have to cope with it and go on.’
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