Friday, 14 October 2011

Paul Collier's Premier League nights: Stoke

This season's snooker schedule is proving hectic for everyone, including referee Paul Collier.

Juggling the workload between World Snooker events and the Premier League has seen the blog's resident columnist rack up plenty of miles.

After taking charge of Thursday night's Premier League in Stoke, he headed straight to Bristol airport for a well-deserved break with his wife.

Such is his commitment though, while en route to his flight for a week-long holiday in Benidorm, he still had time to talk to OnCue. Here's what he said....

The Premier League nights feels like they're coming thick and fast at the moment, but this evening in Stoke staked a big claim as the most exciting yet.

Once again, there was a capacity crowd of 600 in and they were able to enjoy two semi-finals that went the full distance, decided with Shoot-Out frames.

It was typical that the one night I could do with getting away at a reasonable time it ended up being the latest finish so far this season, but I can't complain as the fans got great value for money and the Premier League is continuing to be a really open tournament. I can't say I'm surprised though as all the players are top class. It was always going to be tough tell them apart under the new format.

If I'm honest, I was a little bit sceptical about returning to Stoke. The last time we came here, it was a complete nightmare. It was a really rowdy crowd and I got the feeling far too much alcohol had been drunk.

I wasn't looking forward to coming, but it was fantastic. We had a knowledgeable crowd in and they were rewarded with some action-packed matches.

The quality of play wasn't at its best but this meant there were plenty of twists and turns, which is also great to watch..

Ding Junhui ended up winning and he'll take that considering how far he was away from his best form. In fact, he was nearly beaten by Jimmy White in the semi-final. Jimmy had some great chances to win that match but it's been a little while since he's had to play under so much pressure on TV.

A lot of people were commenting on Twitter that Mark Williams didn't look quite up to scratch either, but I don't agree he struggled with the shot-clock. He had a few kicks early on in his match with Ali Carter and I think that affected him a little.

Snooker sometimes goes like that. We're not always going to have the best standard of play all the time, but it's good to watch nonetheless. Ding was the lucky one to come through it with the win.

I'm really looking forward to my trip to Spain. I feel like I need the break. The weather isn't promising to be great, but it's better than being here. I'm back next week when the Premier League heads to Exeter, but until then, I'm switching my mobile phone off and having a real wind down.

The only thing I'll be doing is watching Wales in the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup against France. I'm sure everyone knows what a big rugby fan I am and I've got a feeling we could reach the final. I watched France play England and even though they won, I thought there were some gaps in their defence.

The way we're playing, I fancy us to take advantage of that.

Thanks for reading. I'll be back again next week with Wales in the World Cup final, fingers crossed.

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