Ryan Day’s greatest red-letter occasion in snooker came on the same day his beloved Manchester United capitulated in the derby against City at the Etihad.
The 42-year-old from Wales eventually stopped asking the score during toilet breaks from the first session of his British Open final against fellow United fan Mark Allen of Northern Ireland.
But after pocketing £100,000 and getting to lift the newly named Clive Everton trophy surrounded by his wife Lynsey, daughters Francesca and Lauren, father and ex-pro footballer brother Rhys, Day could shrug off that setback.
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And afterwards Day, back in the top 16 up from world No27, was also able to reflect on how his career might have gone differently had he won big earlier in his career – and the strength in the depth of the tour after becoming the fifth player outside the elite 16 to win a ranking title this year.
Day said: “I missed the Manchester derby on Sunday, but came out for a couple of toilet breaks in the afternoon session and the scoreline was getting worse and worse for United.
“I have supported them all my life, it has been poor for quite some time now and they keep chopping and changing managers and it seems deeper-rooted.
“In the end I just stopped asking what the score was. But to be honest if it had meant winning this, then I don’t mind if they finish in the bottom three!
“I love my football, my brother Rhys was a professional and started at City, and I played up until a few years ago. That was my first love really and I follow all the results wherever we are on tour.
“I had been so embarrassed on Saturday night after the semi-final, playing that badly in a big match on mainstream TV. I almost meant the comments about conceding the final.
“It was the first time for a long time on a stage like that and to perform like that it was ‘what are you doing’. It was just go to bed, sleep well, and be better – and luckily that’s what happened. It was a very different day in the final, and I actually got stronger on Sunday night.
“It is huge for me winning a really big title in front of my family and friends. I went in thinking ‘I really need to play well here’ because there was the potential I could get trounced.
“At the first interval at 2-2 at least I had a foothold but at the start the way I had played in the semi-final and the way Mark had been playing I feared it might be over after the first session.
“Obviously that is not the right way to be thinking – but Chris Henry, my coach, worked on me mentally the morning before the final and those small steps really helped.
“My two girls got a bit embarrassed going out at the end into the arena for the pictures, they said they weren’t expecting that! But to win in the UK is huge, and to have my wife, my dad, my brother and daughters and everyone there was just massive. A dream come true.
“It is my 23rd year as a professional, and it is fair to say I should maybe have done better and won more. If I had won a tournament earlier in my career, perhaps around 2007 or 2008, it might have led to more titles with the confidence that can bring.
“But I didn’t get a win until 2017, and this is now four since then with this the biggest. If I had won one of the finals I was in all those years ago, it could have been more.
“This is one of the biggest events on the calendar that we have, and it will give me a huge boost for the rest of the season. The family actually went shopping earlier in the afternoon on Sunday, so they have probably spent a good chunk of the money already.
“I think I am the fifth player that was outside the top 16 to win a ranking title this year, it feels more open and I think it has been like that for a while – especially at this event with the format and the random draws each round. That lends itself to a possible outsider winning.
“The standard down the rankings is stronger, though those players can take a while to settle on the TV table as happened to Robbie Williams in my semi-final. There are probably the top five, six that are consistently ahead of the rest, serial winners. But after that, every now and again someone else wins.
“It was a big frame I lost to go 7-6 down, Mark ended up winning it and he gave it a little celebration. But it’s to be expected, we were playing for a big prize. I saw it, but each to their own and there’s nothing much in that. I just stayed with it and finished off strongly.”
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