Snooker ace Ronnie O’Sullivan was saved from a tight spot when the son of a Lurgan referee helped him with a pair of shoes.
O’Sullivan hadn’t realised he had broke the dress code when he removed his uncomfortable shoes during the first round of the World Championship.
As the ‘Rocket’ circled the baize in his sock soles, quick-thinking tournament director Mike Ganley came to the rescue. Mike is the son of the late Len Ganley from Lurgan, who refereed four World Snooker Championship finals.
Mike prevented the 39-year-old player an early exit by lending him his own shoes. The shoes did the trick and O’Sullivan announced later that Ganley’s shoes felt “just great”.
Mike told the Belfast Telegraph: “I came into the arena when I noticed that Ronnie was wearing his socks to warn him that he was breaking the dress rules. Ronnie came out and asked if what size shoes I wore. When I told him they were a size eight, he asked to borrow them - so I handed them over. He played for another three frames so I made do without my shoes for about 45 minutes and I got them back when it was over.
“Yes, it was one of the most unusual incidents that I’ve dealt with in all my years at the tournament.”
O’Sullivan ended up winning the match. Afterwards, he told the BBC: “I’ve got no fashion sense at all. I had the last ones for 10 years and just didn’t want to get rid of them. But I lost them and had to buy a new pair but they were bashing my feet. I had to take them off, I couldn’t wear them. I didn’t want to play in my socks but I didn’t want to play in those shoes either, so I was just happy for anyone to give me any footwear that felt comfortable. I got a pair of Mike Ganley’s stinky old shoes but - they felt great.”
Mike Ganley is head of World Snooker Ltd. His father Len a former bus driver and milkman died in 2011. Len was one of the biggest names and personalities in world snooker as a referee, although he was an accomplished player in his own right.