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Ssb - stephen lee: Fine career ends in disgrace

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  • Ssb - stephen lee: Fine career ends in disgrace

    I've covered most of Stephen Lee's professional career. I was present at all five of his ranking title victories and have interviewed him many times.


    His has been a fine career but today it ended in disgrace. It seems likely he will be handed a lengthy ban.


    Lee was a member of the class of ’92, part of golden generation of teenagers who had grown up during the British snooker boom when the game was a major television attraction.


    Born in Wiltshire in 1974, he had a multitude of junior tournaments in which to play as snooker took a foothold in the sporting landscape of the UK during the 1980s.


    The junior events were highly competitive due to the sheer number of entrants and helped forge some formidable talents ready to turn professional. Lee was among the leading lights poised to do some damage in the pro ranks after he won the 1992 English amateur title at the age of 18.


    And so to the Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool a few weeks later where Lee lined up with hundreds of other hopefuls. The professional game had gone open the previous year and the Norbreck ballroom heaved with new faces, old stagers, solid match players and the deluded.


    Lee was certainly one to watch, as were his contemporaries Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams, all of whom were also taking their first steps on the pro ladder.


    Lee fared well that first season, at one point winning six successive qualifying matches by way of whitewash and racking up a record run of 33 consecutive frames. He would go on to reach the quarter-finals of the European Open and finished his debut season 101st in the world rankings – higher than both Higgins and Williams.


    He did not quite match the pace of O’Sullivan, Higgins and Williams, either in the next few seasons or his career as a whole, but his overall record makes him one of the most successful players of the last 15 years.


    Lee’s major professional breakthrough came at the 1998 Grand Prix, in which he defeated Marco Fu 9-2 in the final, a brilliant performance which included two centuries and eight half centuries.


    In addition, Lee beat Fu, Stephen Hendry and O’Sullivan to win the 1999 Millennium Cup invitation title in Hong Kong. He finished runner-up in the 1999 Irish Masters – losing 9-8 to Hendry from 8-4 up – and the China Open later that year.


    Lee was edged 9-8 by Higgins in the 2000 Welsh Open final. I remember his father, Colin, back then a regular on the circuit, sitting watching every ball in agony in the pressroom.


    Lee, over whose silky smooth cue action many purred, was by now firmly ensconced in the top 16. In 2001 he won a second ranking title, the LG Cup in Preston. Victory was all the sweeter because of who he beat in the final.


    Six months earlier, he had been beaten 13-12 by Peter Ebdon in the second round of the World Championship. In the decider, Ebdon celebrated triumphantly after potting a black to leave Lee requiring two snookers, even though the match was not, strictly speaking, over.


    I was the only journalist to interview Lee afterwards. I went up to his dressing room and could see he was furious. Part of this was the disappointment of losing such a close match, but he turned his fire on Ebdon: “It was over the top. It wasn’t sporting behaviour. He should leave that kind of thing in the dressing room. I hope Ronnie beats him. I couldn’t handle it if he won the tournament.”


    The summer came and went and we found ourselves at the first event of the new season, the Scottish Masters. It was Lee who immediately brought up the Ebdon incident and it was clear time had not been a healer: “If he doesn’t apologise to me then I won’t play in the Nations Cup with him” (they were due to play together for England, but the event was ultimately cancelled).


    So Lee’s 9-4 defeat of Ebdon was a source of great satisfaction and proved how much – back then – winning and losing meant to him.


    Lee won the 2002 Scottish Open and 2006 Welsh Open, was runner-up in the 2002 Thailand Masters and a semi-finalist at the 2003 World Championship. Having achieved a highest ranking of fifth, he remained in the top 16 until 2008, his form becoming patchier and playing opportunities fewer.


    It was in the period that followed that he is judged by the investigation to have deliberately lost frames and matches.


    The irony is that he was very much back to his best by the time he was suspended following a Premier League match last year.


    In the second half of the 2011/12 campaign he reached the German Masters semi-finals, Welsh Open quarter-finals, World Open final, China Open semi-finals and won the PTC Grand Finals in Galway, his fifth world ranking title.


    When his career came to a premature halt last October, Lee had earned just over £2m in career prize money, but we have no record of how much he spent.


    Off table, like most players, he was down to earth and good company. He seemed to be well liked on the circuit.


    Stories of suspicious performances emerged but hard evidence did not. Lee was arrested in 2010 but the police investigation was dropped.


    The WPBSA’s integrity unit did pursue the case and the Sports Resolutions inquiry has now found him guilty of cheating the sport he once dreamed of simply being a part. The evidence against him is both damning and shaming.



    More...

  • #2
    it's a shame, nothing to add really.

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    • #3
      I always enjoyed watching him play. Some of the shots he's done were amazing. A brilliant cueist.

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      • #4
        I find it difficult to conceive of a player arrested in 2010 then going on to do it again?
        I often use large words I don't really understand in an attempt to appear more photosynthesis.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by magicman View Post
          I find it difficult to conceive of a player arrested in 2010 then going on to do it again?
          All the matches that Stephen Lee has been found guilty of fixing were in 2008 and 2009, so there is no good evidence that he has continued again afterwards.

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          • #6
            I read the WS report. Quite a bit of evidence they presented. It's a shame for Lee but they have to come down hard on him. The game's dead if fans and sponsors start questioning every missed pot or position.

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            • #7
              Various fellow pros have made comments since the finding of the hearing...Trump, Ronnie and Robertson....funny how Higgins has so far declined to comment........ NOT

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              • #8
                Played at our club doing an exhibition, absolutely fantastic player, seemed a very nice lad, it's a shame.
                This is how you play darts ,MVG two nines in the same match!
                https://youtu.be/yqTGtwOpHu8

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                • #9
                  The evidence against both damning and shaming yet the police found nothing that they could prosecute him with. £111,000 placed and only £97,000 won doesn't make for hard evidence in my book, and as for some money being paid into his wifes' account, so what, lots of rich people avoid tax through that very loophole.

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                  • #10
                    Think the time between the phone calls between parties is quite damning in my book . 66 bets on the Ryan Day match also looks bad .
                    Still trying to pot as many balls as i can !

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by neil taperell View Post
                      Think the time between the phone calls between parties is quite damning in my book . 66 bets on the Ryan Day match also looks bad .
                      that section 102 looks bad but an awful lot of the report is hearsay and padding with no real details.
                      https://www.ebay.co.uk/str/adr147

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                      • #12
                        Too much of a coincidence though Andrew , don't you think .

                        Plus he doesn't explain the money going into his account and his memory is some what hazy at times .
                        Still trying to pot as many balls as i can !

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                        • #13
                          It seems like a lot of circumstantial evidence from what I understand which is why the CPS probably decided not to prosecute (i.e. no way of showing "beyond reasonable doubt") whereas WS case was based on a civil action (i.e. balance of probabilities)

                          It will be interesting to see what the outcome is as his case is being heard under the 'ole rules' so a lifetime ban is not absolutely definite. I wouldn't be surprised if it's 8 years or more (which is what Quinten Hann got) instead of a complete lifetime ban.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by neil taperell View Post
                            Too much of a coincidence though Andrew , don't you think .

                            Plus he doesn't explain the money going into his account and his memory is some what hazy at times .
                            I am told most of the money was actually his earnings. I here the suspect figure is actually £600 !!
                            https://www.ebay.co.uk/str/adr147

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                            • #15
                              really bad for the sport

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