A different Christmas story

23:37:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

Wish you all a snookerish Christmas
What you are about to read is not a typical Christmas story. It's not like I was visited by the tree spirits of Christmas and it didn't even happen on Christmas. But it's a story that has a bit of magic in it and since I believe that Christmas is a magical holiday (yeah, laugh all you want, I know I'm old fashioned), I've decided to share it with all of you.

 It's a bit long, but it’s true and it represents a very important part of my life. Here I go ...

"We need to put that little arm of yours in a cast", said the doctor. It was my right one, my favourite arm. I was 26 and I've never worn a cast before. Although for the first couple of days I felt a bit special, frustration kicked off soon after that. That's how it all started - my passion for snooker.

When I said that my right arm is my favourite one, I was not kidding - I do almost everything with it, sometimes I feel like the left one is just there for balance. It was horrible to know that for the next two weeks I'll have to keep it slow, no sudden moves and no crazy stuff on my computer (if you call typing crazy).
Sometimes the pain was making me unable to even hold a book in my hands and since I'm a very active person, the fact that I couldn't do anything, was killing me.

One day I decided it was time to turn on the telly. I must add that I'm not very fond of it...there's really nothing on...ever! Still, on EuroSport the 2010 World Championship was on. Regardless of the commentators’ views of what was going on on the green baize, I got hooked. I wasn't a complete stranger of snooker, but I do confess I didn't know the rules by heart. Not even the players.
Although I had previous snooker experiences, besides Stephen Hendry none of the names sound familiar to me. I know, weird!

A memorable moment: Davis beating Higgins
That day John Higgins was playing Steve Davis. Though I had the feeling that I've seen Higgins somewhere before, Master Davis was a complete stranger. Tall, a bit old for the game, but with such an elegant attitude towards it - that was my first impression. At the end of the match, everyone was over the moon with the result. Davis won 13-11. Well, maybe not everyone, but I was under the impression some kind of upset was caused by this tall guy.
Steve was absolutely stunned by his victory, while Higgins shook his hand and congratulated him.

Back then I had no idea that I was witnessing a historic moment.

Soon after the match was over I started google-ing Steve Davis, snooker, John Higgins, the World Championship ... with a very un-cooperative left hand. And then it hit me: Steve Davis was a six-time world champion and a snooker icon. I remember feeling pretty stupid. Even know I feel like the most imbecile person ever. I was watching the defending champion taking on a six-time world champion and the only thing in my mind was: "Hm .. .isn't that a strange combination!" Bloody fool!

The BBC website helped me find out more about the players and who won what until that moment. Then, World Snooker website came to give me a helping hand too. Wikipedia, though sometimes unreliable, was there too. I was mesmerized by all that!

That's how it all started (yes, it's my arm!)
After the World Championship was over, I went back to the doctor to remove my cast. I remember when I left it on the bed ... I was somehow sad because it felt like I was leaving behind something that changed my life. Although I wasn't very aware of the fact that I've already been virused by snooker, something in my heart was definitely saying something to me.

Along with the John Higgins scandal and Barry Hearn taking over World Snooker Ltd. a new era was starting for snooker: the Players Tour Championships. I remember that the first one was followed entirely by refreshing Global Snooker webpage every 30 seconds. Mark Williams was the first to grab a PTC title. His name was no longer a mystery for me. I knew the guy very well. My confidence was quite big at the moment.

A month later I found out that the EBSA Championship was going to be held in Bucharest. What a thrill! For the first time I was going to be able to smell live snooker. I remember that the first time I witnessed a match it only took something like five minutes, because I was late. "Never mind" I said to myself, “I shall see the next one and this time I won't be late".

The following day I watched a full match and if I'm not wrong, one of the players was a Romanian guy. Wasn’t too interested in who was playing for the only thing I could think of was "Oh, my Lord! I'm watching live snooker. There's the green baize and those colourful balls in front of me". Childish, but true.

Meeting the Whirlwind
The final day arrived and with it the big exhibition match: Jimmy White was travelling to Bucharest for this occasion. Once again I found myself in the same position as a few weeks before: "Hm...Jimmy White? Who's this guy?". A simple search on Google revealed the heaviness of his name. Once again I felt like an ignorant. But I didn't give up.

I remember staying for the whole final and as the interval kicked off, me and two of my friends going to grab a bite. I shall never forget that moment: me walking along the room and Jimmy coming from the opposite side looking straight at me. I know I suddenly stopped for a few seconds and then when I realised how stupid that was I continued to walk towards him ... and I walked like he was miles away (you know those films, when there are two guys and they walk and walk and walk, everything happening in slow motion). 

The horrible thing is that I couldn't say anything. Not even a babbling and insipid "Hello!". I just walk outside the hotel and started to say to my friends (well, actually scream!) : "I, I, I saw Jimmy White!" And they were something like "Whatever, we are hungry.".

As we returned a few minutes after, Jimmy was passing through the hotel's hall and when I saw him (since my friends didn't have the slightest idea how he looks like), I pointed them by saying "There he is, one more time", but in my own language. The strange thing is that Jimmy turned his head around and started looking at me while the other men he was with were talking to him. And he was looking and I was looking and the only thing I could do was to smile ... at least that's what I think, because he smiled back.

I feel like such a teenager telling you this story. Well, at least I didn't faint right? That would have been worse, not to mention totally embarrassing.

Anyway, that year Luca Brecel was crowned champion and everything finished with a horrible ceremony where the president of the Romanian Snooker Federation talked only in Romanian, although the majority of the people there were foreign.

After such a snooker treat my passion was no longer a secret. I started to study the players, their achievements, their personal lives, everything that was out there. Until, one day it hit me: why not start a blog? Sure they are plenty blogs out there, but this one would be my special way of thanking snooker for coming into my life.

I know, I know...it sounds dull and too artistically, but this sport has truly saved my life. It inspires me every day, it gives me strength to carry on, it lets me write, it has helped unleashed that crazy desire of mine for research, it brings me hope and I truly think I've become a better person because of it.

When I found out that my hand will be put in a cast all I could think of was “Here’s another brilliant thing in my life”, for after finishing a four-year faculty and a master programme I was still unemployed and with no perspective whatsoever. I was feeling miserable, no one was there for me, all my friends had jobs and a life, while I was feeling somehow lost and out of this world.
I had no one to turn to, no one to guide me, no one to inspire me. I was empty and felt like I had no purpose in life.

But with what seemed to be the most horrible news in the world, my life has changed and it has changed for better.
I  have said it many times, for me every snooker match is a lesson of life and I think I'm still playing it for I have so much to learn.

So yes, this is not a story that happened on Christmas time and it's not even related with it, but it does carry some sparkle of magic. Maybe it's just in my head, I don't know ... but for a year and five months snooker has definitely brought a lot of magic into my soul.

I'm sure each and every one of you have a story that maybe it's not an amazing one, but it's very close to your heart and it turned your life upside down in a positive way.
This is mine.

Merry Christmas everyone!