Graeme Dott slams Crucible critics: 'I think it's a little bit of an excuse'

September 1, 2022
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Graeme Dott has come out in defence of snooker’s most famous venue (Picture: Getty Images)

Graeme Dott says he doesn’t want to hear any criticism of the Crucible and suggests those that want a change to the World Snooker Championship are just looking for excuses for their own poor performances.

The home of the World Championship has had its critics over the last few months, with the likes of Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and Stephen Maguire all suggesting the tournament should move from the Sheffield venue.

Many fans are strongly opposed to a move, firmly attached to the historic South Yorkshire theatre, while other players, notably Kyren Wilson, Anthony McGill and Joe Perry, have dismissed the idea of a new home for the event.

Complaints tend to be about the size of the Crucible Theatre, either in terms of number of spectators or the space available in the playing area itself.

Robertson in particular has made the point that he finds the Crucible in the two-table set-up is too tight to play some shots properly, although he did say this year that he practiced specifically to deal with that and did not blame the issue for his surprise last 16 defeat to Jack Lisowski.

It was the eighth year on the spin that the brilliant Australian has failed to make it to the semi-finals, though, and Dott believes criticism of the Crucible stems from him looking for reasons why he has not done better in Sheffield, despite being one of the world’s best and the 2010 world champ.

‘I don’t really like people that say it’s wrong or that you should change it, I’m not for that,’ Dott told the Talking Balls podcast. ‘I’m fairly sure it’ll be the same size when Ray Reardon won it, it’s the same test.

‘There must be players the same height as Neil Robertson, it’s not that he can’t fit to play his shot.

‘He just needs to try and deal with it better. Personally I think it’s a little bit of an excuse because he’s not done that well there.

‘He’s won it in 2010 but his record at the Crucible is horrific for a player as good as he is.

‘He’s maybe looking for a reason why but I don’t think the size of the Crucible is the reason he’s not winning, I can’t really have that.’


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Neil Robertson suffered a surprise defeat to Jack Lisowski at the Crucible this year (Picture: Getty Images)

Dott lost the 2010 Crucible final to Robertson, but has been to two more finals, losing his first in 2004 to Ronnie O’Sullivan, but claiming the world title in 2006 when he downed Peter Ebdon.

He has not been past the last 16 since 2011, but the Scot is still as big a fan of the Sheffield theatre as ever, despite admitting that how small it is can be a serious challenge for players.

‘I love the Crucible,’ he continued. ‘I bottled it the first time I played in it [1997], I’m not scared to admit. Completely bottled it.

‘I got introduced, walked down the stairs, thought this is really nice, I’m going to play well here.


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Dott claimed the Crucible crown in 2006 (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Then the partition came down and the colour must have just went from my face. I thought it’s in the wrong place, it was too tight, it must have been a mistake!

‘I could not pot a ball in the first session, lost 6-3 to James Wattana and I don’t know how I won three. In the second session I was okay and I ended up losing the match 10-9.

‘But I love it, I can’t possibly say a bad thing and I won’t hear anybody say a bad thing about the Crucible.’

Concept plans of a new snooker venue in Sheffield have been drawn up which would see the World Championship played in the original Crucible and the new building.

These are just concepts and nothing has been agreed, but while the Crucible is unquestionably the most loved venue in snooker, WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson admits that some change will need to come to the sport’s greatest event.

‘I think the one thing that we all agree on is that the Crucible is iconic,’ Ferguson told the Talking Snooker podcast. ‘To think about a complete move from it seems crazy. But we do need more facilities.

‘The sport is growing enormously in terms of viewership, we know there’s a demand for more and more people around the world to want to visit the city.

‘There’s more demand for hospitality and corporate, we need more facilities in the event.

‘We’ve done a lot of work around the Masters [at Alexandra Palace] and it’s starting to now look big in comparison to the Crucible.

‘We really need to think about the future of the World Snooker Championship in that respect. It will always be the greatest event, the greatest atmosphere so we’ll tread very carefully on whatever is done going forward.’

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