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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 April, 2004, 23:20 GMT 00:20 UK
Crucible diary - day eight
By Phil Harlow
BBC Sport at The Crucible

Paul Hunter hugs Matthew Stevens after their second-round match
It was refreshing to see the fabulous sportsmanship and genuine friendship that bosom buddies Matthew Stevens and Paul Hunter showed toward each other during, and after, their second-round match.

After much chatting and joking throughout the match, the pair had to endure the agony of a deciding final frame.

But the pair suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with smiles and embraced each other warmly at the end of an epic contest.

The scenes brought a tear to the eye of this hardened diary compiler.

But whether that was because of the moving nature of two young men's friendship surviving the most testing of circumstances or because I had a cheeky tenner on Hunter to win, I couldn't possibly say.

During the same match, BBC commentator John Virgo was able to give the final word on a tricky dispute.

Hunter put Stevens in a snooker on the yellow, and the Welshman attempted a daring escape through the narrowest of gaps.

It turned out the gap was so narrow it wasn't even there as Stevens sent balls clattering around the table. With no shot on, Hunter opted to have the balls replaced.

Never a referee's favourite job, Peter Williamson was still unconvinced he had got the balls in their original positions, prompting Hunter to ask Virgo if he could offer his assistance.

Virgo, ensconced in the BBC commentary box, consulted the before and after TV images and then gave the thumbs-up for play to continue.

He's not just a pretty face after all then.

Mark Williams' surprise second-round defeat to Joe Perry brought one consolation for last year's champion.

Williams will return to Wales to be reunited with fiancée Jo and week-old son Connor, and the Welshman is preparing to throw himself head first into fatherhood.

"I've got plenty of nappy changing ahead of me now, that's my punishment for losing I suppose," said Williams.

"He's been sleeping well apparently but that will probably change once I get back."

Barry Pinches plays a shot in his match against Stephen Hendry
Chirpy number, Barry
Barry Pinches, the man who knocked out Jimmy White in the first round, has caused quite a stir with his yellow and green waistcoat, a tribute to his favourite football club - newly-promoted Norwich.

But Pinches, making his first appearance at The Crucible since 1991, garnered much sympathy after revealing the financial hardships of life on the peripheries of snooker.

Part of the reason was that Pinches was without a waistcoat sponsor, but one enterprising entrepreneur put that to rights, snapping up the chance to see their name emblazoned across the East Anglian potter's clothing.

Unfortunately the last-minute nature of the arrangement was rather shown up as the logo fell off while Pinches was at the table requiring him to attempt to stick it back on.

Anthony Hamilton was endearingly honest after his surprise win over Joe Swail.

Asked whether he minded being overlooked when contenders for the title are being discussed, Hamilton was admirably blunt: "Rightly so - I've not been able to pot a ball, have I?"




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Crucible diary - day seven
23 Apr 04  |  World Snooker
Crucible diary - day six
22 Apr 04  |  World Snooker
Crucible diary - day five
22 Apr 04  |  World Snooker
Crucible diary - day four
21 Apr 04  |  World Snooker
Crucible diary - day three
20 Apr 04  |  World Snooker
Crucible diary - day two
19 Apr 04  |  World Snooker
Crucible diary - day one
17 Apr 04  |  World Snooker

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