Shaun Murphy
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Shaun Murphy addresses chalkgate and ‘rumours’ of a breakaway tour

Shaun Murphy continues his challenge to win the 2024 World Snooker Championship on Friday at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

The Magician beat Lyu Haotian 10-5 in the first round to set up an intriguing tie against old rival Stephen Maguire.

The pair rose through the junior ranks together during the 1990s before becoming stars of the professional scene a decade later.

They have faced each other on numerous occasions in the past, including at the World Championship two years ago when Maguire beat Murphy in the first round.

But one infamous incident between the duo is constantly brought up from a showdown 20 years ago at the Grand Prix when Murphy was alleged to have played a part in Maguire getting docked a frame.

In the latest episode of his podcast with Phil Seymour, the 2005 world champion has attempted again to set the record straight.

“What happened was, we turned up to play our match,” Shaun Murphy said on the award-winning OneFourSeven podcast.

“Stephen walked out into the arena, he didn’t have his chalk with him. Because he didn’t have it with him, it caused the match to start late.”

“As I was filling up my water with the ice and stuff, I looked up to see him leaving the arena and called the referee over to my corner to ask him where Stephen was going.

“I’d never seen that happen before. So the referee and I had a good chat about it – where had he gone and why had he gone – and this is where it gets messy.

“Because on screen, and with the subsequent docking of a frame for causing the match to start late, it looks as if I said to the referee that ‘he’s out of line, he’s broke the rules, I want him docked a frame.’

“I think, from memory, we were discussing the rules. I may have said to the referee is he within the rules? The referee was very clear and said he’d allowed him to go backstage.

“What nobody saw, because it was behind the line of the cameras, was that as Stephen reentered the arena, he was followed into the arena by Mike Ganley.

“The head tournament director, who before Stephen had even got back to the field of play, or had any interaction with the referee, docked Stephen on the spot.

“There was no consultation between the ref and the tournament director. It was Mike Ganley who did it.

“Even if I had said to the referee to dock him a frame, which I didn’t, it wasn’t the referee who docked him the frame. It was Mike Ganley.

“There was no contact between Mike and the referee. Stephen looked at me, I looked at him. He sees me 1-0 up, and of course he thinks that I’ve read the rule book and pulled him for starting the match late.

“It’s not actually what happened. I think looking back at it, we were both much younger, we were both full of testosterone.

“I regret my part in it. I wish I had just kept my mouth shut, because it’s got me into trouble.

“I remember they cut back to the studio and Steve Davis called it the worst piece of sportsmanship he’d ever seen.

“He really threw me under the bus, and really to this day, we’re talking about it 20-odd years later, it’s still following me around.

“People still think that I demanded he be docked a frame, and it’s not quite what happened.”

Murphy also addressed the ongoing whispers of a potential breakaway tour that would send shockwaves across the sport.

Several high-profile players have delivered cryptic messages in recent weeks, including Mark Williams and John Higgins.

The Class of ’92 legends have both hinted that it could be their last appearances at the Crucible Theatre this year.

Although Williams insists that he will be playing snooker of some description next season, the Welshman hasn’t committed to where.

“Well, I mean, there are rumours afoot of breakaway tours,” Shaun Murphy said.

“Nobody else seems to want to talk about it, but there are rumours around. I saw on social media my name get mentioned that Murphy signed an NDA not to talk about it.”

“For clarity, I haven’t. I have not been approached by anyone about anything. I only know what I read.

“So it was quite amusing to see my name featured in it – someone tweeted, ‘you don’t have to be a Magician to know who I’m talking about,’ from one of these anonymous accounts.

“But there are a lot of rumours flying around. John Higgins even said coming into the event something along the lines of, ‘I’m going to go to the Crucible for one more crack at it.’

“Again, you don’t have to be a super genius to work out what these guys are trying to say.

“I don’t know who’s been approached and been talked to about this breakaway tour, if there is one. I don’t know who’s been approached.

“But it sounds as if, potentially, those two have.”

Shaun Murphy plays Stephen Maguire in the last 16 of the 2024 World Snooker Championship across three sessions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

For the full tournament schedule, click here.


2024 World Snooker Championship Draw

Round 1 (bo19)

Luca Brecel (1) 9-10 David Gilbert
Robert Milkins (16) 10-9 Pang Junxu
Ali Carter (9) 7-10 Stephen Maguire
Shaun Murphy (8) 10-5 Lyu Haotian

Mark Selby (5) 6-10 Joe O’Connor
Kyren Wilson (12) 10-1 Dominic Dale
John Higgins (13) 10-6 Jamie Jones
Mark Allen (4) 10-6 Robbie Williams

Judd Trump (3) 10-5 Hossein Vafaei
Tom Ford (14) 10-6 Ricky Walden
Zhang Anda (11) 4-10 Jak Jones
Mark Williams (6) 9-10 Si Jiahui

Ding Junhui (7) 9-10 Jack Lisowski
Gary Wilson (10) 5-10 Stuart Bingham
Barry Hawkins (15) 8-10 Ryan Day
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) 10-1 Jackson Page

Round 2 (bo25)

David Gilbert 13-4 Robert Milkins (16)
Stephen Maguire 13-9 Shaun Murphy (8)

Joe O’Connor 6-13 Kyren Wilson (12)
John Higgins (13) 13-12 Mark Allen (4)

Judd Trump (3) 13-7 Tom Ford (14)
Jak Jones 13-9 Si Jiahui

Jack Lisowski 11-13 Stuart Bingham
Ryan Day 7-13 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Quarter-Finals (bo25)

David Gilbert 13-8 Stephen Maguire
Kyren Wilson (12) 13-8 John Higgins (13)

Judd Trump (3) 9-13 Jak Jones
Stuart Bingham 13-10 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Semi-Finals (bo33)

David Gilbert 11-17 Kyren Wilson (12)
Jak Jones 17-12 Stuart Bingham

Final (bo35)

Kyren Wilson (12) 18-14 Jak Jones

Click here for the latest live scores and session times.


Featured photo credit: WST

3 Comments

  1. Jay Brannon

    A breakaway tour would be a travesty. To not have all the best players together would diminish the game significantly.

  2. Jay Brannon

    Not a single century on day 6. 25 centuries so far is a tad low compared to recent years at this stage.

  3. I’m not sure what the point is of a breakaway tour with 50 yr old players. Unless it’s a revamped, big money, seniors tour, which there’s huge potential for given the number of players in that age group.

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