O'Sullivan gives it socks at Crucible
Ronnie O'Sullivan swerved the threat of a fine for playing in his socks as donning a pair of "stinky old shoes" proved punishment enough at the Crucible.
The five-time champion returned yesterday to finish off a 10-3 victory over Craig Steadman, a 32-year-old from Manchester who endured a painful debut.
O'Sullivan was hurting too after earning his last-16 place, having started the match in a new pair of dress shoes which he discarded during Tuesday's opening session due to the acute discomfort they were causing.
He might have faced a fine of around £250 for briefly playing on without shoes, but because O'Sullivan was ready to accept any other pair of size eights offered his way, tournament officials decided there was no case of a dress code breach for the title favourite to answer.
Nigel Mawer, head of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association disciplinary department, confirmed that organisers decided O'Sullivan should not face a misconduct charge.
Ironically, the tournament director, Mike Ganley, is the man whose shoes O'Sullivan borrowed and later poked fun at. Ganley is also the man O'Sullivan headbutted at the 1996 World Championship, which landed him with a £20,000 fine and suspended two-year ban. ''I got a pair of Mike Ganley's stinky old shoes, and you know what - they felt great," he said.
Now the 39-year-old is hoping to draw the attention of a leading shoemaker, so he can avoid any further foot trouble. Earlier this season he broke his ankle while running, and had to play at the UK Championship in soft footwear rather than the standard dress shoes.
"If any top shoemakers feel like they want to come and sort me out with a new pair of shoes, send your boys down. I'm not going to say no."
Matthew Stevens swept to a meeting with O'Sullivan after a surprising 10-2 win over fellow Welshman Mark Williams, his conqueror in the 2000 final.