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Stephen Hendry UK Championship withdrawal excuse speaks volumes

A new chapter was written in the halfhearted Stephen Hendry comeback on Monday after his UK Championship withdrawal.

It was announced that the seven-time world champion had pulled out of the upcoming prestigious ranking event in York.

The Scot had been scheduled to face Andrew Pagett in the first qualifying round, but scheduling conflicts have led to him withdrawing at the last minute.

It’s the latest in a line of false dawns since Hendry revealed his intentions to return as a professional player just over two years ago.

At first, there was plenty of hubbub around the prospect of his participation on the Main Tour, but to call his comeback a damp squib would be an understatement.

Hendry took to social media yesterday to explain the reason for his latest withdrawal at the UK Championship.

“Just a quick explanation as to why I had to pull out of (the) UK qualifier,” the 53 year-old wrote on Twitter.

“They (WST) scheduled my matches for this weekend when I’m working at the Champion of Champions for ITV.”

Hendry has been fairly honest in the past that snooker wouldn’t be his number one priority again, but there are many who are angered with how he is treating his invitational tour card.

The five-time UK champion barely competed in the second season of his first ITC but took the decision to accept a fresh ticket when offered one in April.

That led many snooker fans to hope that he would finally take the comeback a little more seriously, but it’s already clear that is not the case.

Why Hendry bothered entering the UK Championship, when he should have already known that the dates for the qualifying rounds would clash with his commitments to ITV, is a mystery.

Two rounds of qualifying take place on Saturday and Sunday at the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield, with the Champion of Champions semi-finals and final on the same dates.

As a result, Pagett receives a bye through to the second qualifying round as the format doesn’t permit top-ups after the draw has been carried out.

Amateur Steven Hallworth, who reached the last 16 of the British Open as a top-up this season, is among those who have reacted with fury – with the Englishman labelling the fiasco “disgusting”.

Hendry’s comeback to the sport was heralded as something that would generate headlines in a positive way.

Instead, the manner in which he repeatedly dismisses the opportunity is not only a stain, albeit minor, on his legacy, but, more importantly, an insult to the tour overall.

Featured photo credit: WST


  1. Jay Brannon

    His excuse for not playing doesn’t stack up as no play that day until 7pm in Bolton (not too far from Sheffield) and his fellow ITV pundit Ken Doherty is playing in the exact timeslot that Hendry had been scheduled for.

    I’m getting ever more irked by the lack of respect for the wildcard. I support the giving of them but there should be a certain number of events you have to play in a certain season for those rights to be maintained. I wouldn’t quite agree it slightly taints his legacy, certainly not as a player anyway. An insult to the tour is fair comment, though.

  2. You’re right as Doherty is scheduled for Monday if he wins his opener. World Snooker could have switched a Monday game with Hendry’s slot on the Sunday afternoon or invite a replacement.

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