Ronnie O’Sullivan urged Britain’s leading shoemakers to “send your boys down” and spare him Crucible agony after getting through three pairs in a chaotic start to his Betfred World Championship campaign.
The title favourite and five-time former champion was a 10-3 winner against Craig Steadman, a 32-year-old from Manchester who endured a painful Crucible debut.
O’Sullivan was sore physically rather than mentally after earning his last-16 place, having started the match in a new pair of dress shoes which he discarded in favour of briefly playing just in his socks.
When O’Sullivan was told by referee Brendan Moore he was breaching rules surrounding attire, he turned first to the audience to beg for a pair of smart size eight shoes, before accepting tournament director Mike Ganley’s offer of his own footwear.
It is understood O’Sullivan could face a small punishment, in the region of £250, for being in breach of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association’s dress code, which stipulates dress and appearance must be “smart and appropriate for a professional snooker or billiards player”.
O’Sullivan dug out a comfortable but old pair of dress shoes for Wednesday’s play, as he converted a 7-2 overnight lead into victory.
Asked about the pair in which he began the match, O’Sullivan said: “Bad, bad move. When I was buying them I was thinking, ‘these don’t look right’.
“But I’m not a fashion kind of guy.
“If any top shoemakers feel like they want to come and sort me out with a new pair of shoes, send your boys down. I’m not going to say no.
“I’d appreciate a new pair and I need some help.”