Snooker is coming to the rescue! 

We are almost at the end of the sport’s ultimate 17-day marathon and there is a blockbuster weekend in store here at the iconic Crucible Theatre.

It’s been a strange couple of weeks in Sheffield, with the city centre a shadow of its usual Crucible carnival self. But the action on the table hasn’t disappointed one bit, and three Covid tests later we are on the home stretch.

The green-baize game is leading the way back to normality, and on Monday night there will be a FULL Crucible for the first time in almost two years.

Betfred are delighted to be associated with such a great event which is pioneering a return to indoor entertainment, such as cinemas, and West End shows.

The final session is sold out with 980 fans packed in, without being socially distanced. A full house will be a sight to behold for everyone in attendance and watching at home, giving us all a glimpse of things to come this summer and beyond.

A huge well done to everybody at World Snooker and the Crucible, for pulling off a spectacular event under the toughest of circumstances.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden was here earlier today. He said: “I really want to say thank you, and pay tribute to all to those people who your viewers won’t see behind the scenes, making this work.

“The point of doing this is that it is great for fans to come in and watch the snooker. But this is paving the way for the return of audiences for sport and theatre and all the things we love, and have not been doing during the Covid crisis.

“The great thing about the Crucible is you can do two things at once: It is a sporting venue, but it is also a theatre. The information gathered here helps us to understand how we can safely reopen venues and open indoor sporting theatres. That will be crucial.”

Shaun ‘Magician’ Murphy pulled a rabbit out of the hat to win the last two frames of this afternoon’s session to close the gap with last year’s finalist Kyren Wilson to 10-6. After resuming 6-2 up, Wilson raced to a commanding 10-4 lead with breaks of 69, 52, 60 and 131. But Murphy pinched the last two, notching 59 and 86, and punched the air with delight.

Meanwhile, it’s not been the best mini-session between three-time winner Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham, with the 2015 champion winning all four frames to lead 11-9. The match is finely poised, and looks set to go the distance.

Mark Pearson