Phil Haigh ✍️
Joe Perry and Ronnie O’Sullivan both turned professional 30 years ago, and while the Gentleman knows how great the Rocket has been for snooker, he also knows how bad he makes other snooker players look.
Perry came though qualifying for the UK Championship on Thursday afternoon, booking his spot at the Barbican in York thanks to a rampant 6-0 win over Graeme Dott.
The 48-year-old made two centuries and two more half-centuries, with Dott failing to score a point in three frames as the Englishman dominated.
It was superb stuff from Perry and completely different to his win in the previous round when he edged past Yuan Sijun 6-5 without making a half-century and only managing two breaks over 30.
The Chinese youngster was scoring better, with a high break of 120, but the veteran ground him down and asked how he can win a game in those circumstances, Joe explained: ‘The fact that it’s my 31st year as a professional is probably the only way I can win a game like that.
‘If you take me back to 1997/98 and I play like that, I just want to go home, I probably stop trying, I just think, what’s the point in playing today when you can’t make 20.
‘But you have to find a way, you have to find it, you’ve got no choice. You can throw the towel in and just roll over, but after 30 years of trying, you just can’t do that.
‘I don’t particularly [enjoy it], I enjoyed today far more. I enjoyed playing the game properly and nicely, but it’s part and parcel.’
Perry has seen it all over 30 years, he’s played brilliantly, he’s played terribly and that’s all part of a career in sport, but he thinks the likes of the Rocket being so good changes expectations for everyone else.
‘You look at someone like Ronnie O’Sullivan, as good as he is for the sport he’s horrible really because everyone, even your friends at home, expect you to play like that and he’s a freak!’ Perry said with a smile.
‘We’ll probably never have another one. The game is one of the hardest sports in the world, anyone that’s played at club, amateur, basic level will tell you how hard the game is.
‘I think he gives us all a bad rap with how easy he makes it look every single time he gets his cue out.’
Perry would like to use his vast experience in the game to help out younger players in the future and he hopes that Yuan took a lot from being schooled by a veteran.
‘I lost to players on my journey to the top 32, top 16, that played like that against me and I’m thinking how can you lose that game?’ Joe said.
‘He’s probably thinking, the old man can’t even play anymore, but that’s experience, when people talk about experience…that is experience, alright it’s a bad one but if he learns from it, watches it back, hopefully he’ll learn.
‘I don’t know how his mind works but maybe he thought he couldn’t lose that day, lost focus, lost concentration, let me off, then at 4-4, 5-4 anything can happen.
‘He’ll learn, I like him, I think he’s got a lot of talent and I think he’ll do well.’
Perry heads to York where he will play his good pal and practice partner Neil Robertson in the last 32, which is one of the toughest tests in snooker, but one he knows he can overcome if he plays like he did against Dott.
Having won the Welsh Open last season, the 48-year-old knows there is still great stuff in his locker and just needs to believe that he can unleash it.
‘Without a doubt [I can beat anyone]. My biggest problem all my career has been my self belief, I’ve never believed in myself enough,’ he said.
‘I know I’m capable of doing that time and time again. That’s how I played in practice for 10 years when me and Neil started playing together, but I never produced it often enough.
‘I lacked a bit of self belief, maybe because of the group of players I came along with [the Class of 92], it does make you feel a bit insecure about your own game. maybe that’s the reason.
‘If I believe in myself I know I can do it, I proved that in Wales, I’ve done it before, so it’s just about doing it more.’
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