Ronnie’s 147

April 21, 1997. I’m playing pool with Previous Ann in a smoky Galway boozer. Previous again demonstrates her prowess on the baize by nailing the black. I’m left to ponder how I’ve been rolled again. She can play this girl. Sadly, I can’t. Discussion quickly turns to the prospect of devouring chips and curry sauce from McDonagh’s in Quay Street.

However, the action from the Crucible in Sheffield is on the pub television. Mick Price and Ronnie O’Sullivan are playing a thus-far non-descript first-round match. I coax Previous into another pint just in case Ronnie produces a trademark blink-and-you’ll-miss century break. Putting the discovery of the British TV quiz show Countdown in a Dublin watering hole to one side, this one pint turned out to be the best pint I’ve ever consumed.

Ronnie is a complex character. Away from the cloth, he has a reputation for waywardness. Issues with officialdom and problems (both medical and medicinal) play some havoc with his life and his soul. At the cloth and with elevated confidence levels, Ronnie is in tune with the universe.

Ronnie displays Euclid’s geometric propositions and axioms with a speed that very few snooker players can match. While Charlton used to methodically and metronomically build his breaks, Ronnie is usually impatiently chalking his cue in position for the next shot just after the previous shot’s object ball drops. Like Sobers at golf, Ronnie can play brilliantly with both hands. He has several different bridges at his disposal and has little use for a rest either as an implement or to gather himself between shots.

There’s a bit of McEnroe in Ronnie. Temperamental. Unpredictable. Like the combustible New Yorker, Ronnie has been known to behave outrageously. He’s been known to pick up his cue and leave mid-match if he so desired.

Hence the attraction.

I love a sportsman who can beguile and mesmerise both opponent and fan simultaneously. I love the unpredictable. Ronnie is a genius with a capital G.

Ronnie leads 8-5. It’s the first to ten frames. Ronnie starts with a long pot. Alternating reds and the black disappear with a scarcely believable frequency. Ronnie creates a spell-binding blur. He almost breaks out into a jog between shots. His potting is so crisp and clean. Each pocket swallows the approaching ball. When needed, Ronnie imparts wicked spin on the cue ball, leading to perfect cue ball positions. A timely busting of a cluster of reds gets me excited. 147 is on here as I take my first sip.

No one speaks. Ronnie’s progress rapidly commands full attention. The bar staff stop serving. All eyes become fixed on the TV. Ronnie pots the final black. All over the country, viewers jump and yell. Patrons in our pub are in raptures.

After 5 minutes and 20 seconds in command of the table, Ronnie has potted the fifteen reds, fifteen blacks and the six colours to achieve snooker’s Holy Grail, the maximum 147 break. It’s the fastest 147 break in the history of snooker.

On average, he pots a ball about every nine seconds. Like Comaneci at Montreal, this is sporting perfection.

During his 147 break, I went to my pint twice. There was no time to drink.

And there was no time to blink.

Ronnie makes snooker look easy. So easy in fact that he can kid you into thinking you could play this most difficult of games to a reasonable level. The scale of Ronnie’s genius becomes readily apparent when you go to try.

Here is a link to Ronnie’s 147 break.

And here is a link describing Ronnie’s current progress in the 2011 World Snooker Championship.


  1. Great story. Any idea how to watch the snooker down under? I’d love to watch it, no BBC down under!

  2. Peter Flynn says

    G’day Ben,

    Try Justin TV.

    I watched our man win it last year on Justin TV.

    Love the Crucible. Hazel Irvine goes alright as well.

  3. Awesome to see genius at work. Brilliant pint work Mr Flynn!

  4. haiku bob says

    nice one flynny.
    watching the rocket’s every move over here on eurosport.

    he’s looking dangerous.
    got over a big hurdle in murphy, and if he gets over higgins it’s all for the taking.

    very little in sport is as compelling as watching ronny make a century break.
    compelling in the sense of beauty. perfection. utterly exquisite.

    a few years ago, he started playing shots left-handed, in certain spots on the table, when it was more convenient than using the rest.
    now he plays left-handed half the time.
    it is amazing.

    thanks again flynny.

  5. Peter Flynn says

    Thanks Snooker Fans,

    Terrific plots developing at the Crucible.

    Dott missed a chance for the 7th 147 Crucible break but missed the yellow.

    Ronnie is 4-4 with Higgins. Both 3-times Champs at the Crucible.


    Great to hear from you. Those Pies are looking really good again.

    It is indeed a thing of beauty to watch Ronnie in full-flight and in full-control of the pathway of the cue-ball and object-ball.

    Is there a Ronnie haiku in you?

  6. David Downer says

    I like this tale Flynnie. Pubs in the old dart seem to have a knack of throwing up some memorable unexpected sports-viewing experiences. But I guess if you drink in them for long enough, they’ll tend to find you!

    A similar yet less-eloquent tale of mine took place in a north London pub during the Champions League final of 1999. Like R.O’Sullivan, it was eventually “blink and you’ll miss it” stuff. Man U were going for the treble against Bayern Munich and trailed 1-0 for 84 minutes. A remarkable victory was snatched with 2 goals late in injury time to T.Sheringham and O.G.Solskjaer.

    Despite being deep in the heart of Picadilly Line Zone 6 with a pub-full of Tottenham boys (seemed to be exlusive Hotspur territory), the place went right orff. On reflection their temporary allegiance to Man U was assisted given a German opponent. But what an atmosphere I’ll never forget.


    P.S: Also have to applaud one of the great uses of the term “Previous!”

  7. Peter Flynn says

    A reflective Ronnie bows out of the 2011 World Champs at the Crucible.,,13165~2204253,00.html


    Cockfosters is my favourite Piccadilly line tube stop. Even better that it’s the end of the line.

  8. Peter Flynn says

    Vale ‘Whispering’ Ted Lowe.

    A voice of my youth (Pot Black) and a giant of British sports commentary.

    Anybody who commentates while sipping champagne is a winner in my book.

  9. John Butler says

    Whispering Ted dead?

    At least 90 was a good innings.

    A recommendation for the sustaining powers of bubbly.

  10. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great stuff Flynny wow what a genius at work that was incredible to watch
    Ronnie O Sullivan what a super star ! The majority of us would have grown up with
    Whispering , Ted Lowe who was the ultimate snooker commentator RIP
    Thanks Flynny a pearler to stumble upon !

  11. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Would have gone about 5:18 if he hadn’t hesitated on the green.

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