x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Hendry's worth the travel

There are some fans who will go the extra mile for their favourite team or player but Colin Spence takes it to a new level.

MANAMA // There are some fans who will go the extra mile for their favourite team or player. Colin Spence is no different - only he goes the extra 3,500 miles. Colin, 25, arrived here in Bahrain from London at 8.30pm on Wednesday and returns this morning - for a 7,000 mile trip that has cost him more than £1,000 pounds (Dh5,500).

But after watching Stephen Hendry sail through his Bahrain Championship quarter-final 5-2 against Robert Milkins at the International Conference Centre in a high-quality match here he feels that the journey - and the expense - was well worth it. Colin, who works in the HR department for BAE Systems in London, has been a snooker fan since his parents bought him a little table 10 years ago. He has been to a few tournaments in Britain but, because of the game's popularity, found it difficult to get tickets.

So when he heard this tournament was taking place he raided his building society account, bought an airline ticket, booked a hotel and, purchased a ticket for yesterday's play. "My friends and family think I am crazy," he said. "They can't understand why anyone would spend so much money to watch a few frames of snooker. But I love the game and this was a rare opportunity to see a match close up and meet some of the players."

As well as meeting Hendry et al he also met Mandy Hendry, the wife of the seven-time world champion. She too thought him crazy. "You must be a real dedicated fan. That's not to say I don't think you are mad," she told him, with a laugh. Hendry, Stephen that is, has been on top form this week, but he could only sit and watch as Milkins started the quarter-final with a break of 137. But the next two frames were vintage Hendry. Breaks of 113 and 132 put him 2-1 ahead and he increased that lead to 4-1 with breaks of 43 and 56. Although Milkins got back on the scoreboard with a 72 in the sixth frame the Scot sealed things with a 62.

"I'm very pleased with the way I am playing," he said. "I can feel my confidence growing with every win. I'm certainly enjoying it here." Today's semi-final opponent will be Matthew Stevens, who beat fellow Welshman Dominic Dale 5-2. It promises to be a cracker as both players are in good form. "I have watched Stephen play a couple of times here and he is cueing really well," said Stevens. "But then again so am I now, so it should be a good match."

cwhebell@thenational.ae