Shaun Murphy is frustrated with his fellow snooker professionals for not promoting their sport enough, and specifically with Ronnie O’Sullivan’s ‘irritating’ attitude when he talks about the game.
Murphy was buoyant after his last 32 victory over Dave Gilbert at the UK Championship on Tuesday, coming through a cracking contest to pick up a 6-5 win.
The Magician was delighted with his victory, pumped up after struggling for regular wins in recent times, and was not afraid to admit that snooker means a huge amount to him, when other players claim it does not.
‘There are lots of players on tour that say things currently about how little this game means to them, how much they don’t like it, that they don’t play for fun anymore. It means absolutely everything to me,’ Murphy said after beating Gilbert at the Barbican, York.
Murphy had been sat in the BBC studio with O’Sullivan earlier in the tournament when the Rocket said he didn’t care ‘whether he played good or bad’ at the moment, so it did not take a trained detective to see that he was referring to the world champion.
Asked how he finds O’Sullivan’s attitude, Murphy said: ‘It is very frustrating, but he’s not on his own as a player that talks about how little the game means to them, and it’s just one of the things they do with their life and they have got other things and other interests, the game means so little to them.
‘For a few that is even true, but for players like myself…I don’t have the CV of O’Sullivan, I don’t have what I assume must be an incredible amount of wealth. He comes from an incredibly wealthy background and grew up in incredible wealth. Most of the tour don’t come from that world.
‘It’s okay for him and people like him, that have cabinet after cabinet of trophies, to say how little the game means to them, but for the rest of us it means an awful lot because it not only feeds our life and looks after us today.
‘But I am only 40 and I remember the village I grew up in and I know the life I would have had but for this game that saved me from a life of complete anonymity and I will never ever forget that.’
Murphy not only feels that O’Sullivan could show a bit more passion for the sport that has made him a superstar, but also help grow snooker for the good of many others.
‘It is extremely irritating,’ said Shaun. ‘Ronnie in particular has one of the biggest platforms in the world. I just wish he would use it to help make the game better.
‘It does sometimes feel that most of the tour are pulling in a similar direction and others – and he’s not on his own – are just out for themselves.’
Murphy feels he does as much as he can to help grow the game and improve the lives and careers of professionals, working with the powers that be to do so.
However, he feels that few other players do, while they prefer to point out what is wrong with snooker, without doing very much at all to improve anything.
‘I attend every players’ meeting, it’s a game that I am passionate about and I don’t just criticise from the sidelines. I am actually involved getting my hands dirty and trying to make the game better than when I turned pro,’ he said.
‘There are players’ meetings, players’ online ‘coffee mornings’, outreach programmes the WPBSA have in place I attend to try and make the game better. And it is through discussions with players that the change of lower-ranked players not walking into super-heroes in round one has come.
‘Judd [Trump] may have had his own meetings with WST. He is such a marquee player he could demand a meeting with the CEO or whoever he wanted. But he is not on his own of players who sit on the side and moan. I’m sure every sport is like it, but snooker must be one of the worst for it.
‘The apathy on tour is disgusting, the lack of desire to actually want to get involved and make positive change for this game.
‘But for most of us we come from a very working-class background, that side of the street. This game has taken us out of probably a life in the job centre or on the dole that most of us would have been collecting every fortnight.
‘So to not get involved properly and try and make the game better is pretty poor.’
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