Allen 'bottler' jibe made me a champion - Bingham
Published 06/05/2015 | 02:30
From the club where it all began to the towns he trudged through on his meandering 20-year journey to the summit of snooker, the reverberations of Stuart Bingham's memorable victory in the World Championship final were being felt yesterday.
Back in Essex, at the Basildon Snooker Club, Joe Lazarus, his old coach of nearly two decades, recalled watching the 14-year-old Bingham learn the game. And in Prestatyn, the council jobsworths cried foul at Bingham's quip that his Crucible victory made up for all the dreary qualifying rounds in north Wales.
The mayor and one other councillor - who suggested Bingham should donate half his £300,000 winnings to the town for "slagging it off" - were about the only two people with even a passing awareness of snooker who were not delighted for the 38-year-old, the oldest first-time champion since the 1940s.
Before the final Bingham had spoken of capitalising on his one opportunity. Afterwards, he said: "Twenty years of blood, sweat and tears and this is the moment that is going to change my life forever."
It is fair to say that Lazarus, Bingham's coach until five years ago, did not originally earmark him for greatness. The 74-year-old said: "He was all right. I've always known he was good, but not to be world champion, let's put it that way."
Lazarus was not the only one who was surprised. Bingham did not win a ranking tournament until the Australian Open in 2011. Before that quarter-final his opponent, Mark Allen, said that Bingham did not have the nerve to win. Bingham duly took the title. "Thanks to Mark - he said I have no bottle and since then things have changed," was Bingham's retort.
Many were dumbstruck by how he had turned himself from journeyman to giantkiller. Marriage to Michelle, with whom he has a three-year-old son, Shae, has helped him mature. His first promise with the prize-money was to replace her Vauxhall Astra with something more flash. "She's got an A4 list," he said with a smile.
Now, having fulfilled his life's ambition, Bingham wants more - he has set his sights on Mark Selby's No 1 ranking. (© Daily Telegraph, London)