Ambitious Ashley Carty earns himself dream ticket to the Crucible for World Championships

Ashley Carty will this morning complete a childhood dream when he cues off at the Betfred World Championship.

Ashley Carty

As a youngster, Carty would make the short trip from his Thurcroft home to Sheffield to sit in the Crucible audience and watch Shaun Murphy play at the home of snooker.

When world No 10 Murphy won the World Championship in 2005, he lived near Carty in Rotherham.

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Now Carty – a 25-year-old rookie who only turned professional in 2018 – will follow in Murphy’s footsteps when he makes his Crucible debut today, against former world champion Stuart Bingham.

FIRST UP: Stuart Bingham celebrates winning the World Championships at the Crucible in May 2015. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA

“I have been a few times to the Crucible to watch Shaun Murphy, because he used to live close to me,” said Carty. “I started playing when I was about eight, and I really got into it at 12 or 13.

“For any young player it is their dream to play there. When I was watching from the seats I was wishing it was me. And now it will be.

“I have practised with him (Murphy) a few times, we have a mutual friend, and he has talked to me about handling situations so I thank him for his help in getting me here.

“He was 22 when he won the worlds, so that shows what a great player he is and he has had a great career. If I win my first game I will be over the moon.

HERO STATUS: Shaun Murphy, picturd in action against Judd Trump earlier this year. Picture: John Walton/PA

“My main objective was to stay on the tour and I have done that. Getting to the Crucible is the biggest bonus you could imagine.”

Carty has enjoyed a remarkable return to snooker.

Since emerging from the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, he was a surprise semi-finalist in last month’s Championship League. He beat two former world champions in Neil Robertson and Ken Doherty to bank £5,500 – the biggest pay day of his short career.

Carty then navigated his way through three tough qualifying rounds, at Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport – beating Ross Muir, Jimmy Robertson and Robert Milkins – to earn a last-32 place at the Crucible, and secure his Tour card for another two seasons.

Carty plays 2015 world champion Bingham this morning in the first round, already guaranteed £20,000 winnings.

“It means the world to play at the Crucible, the final qualifier was the biggest game of my life,” said the world No 82. “There was so much on it. Not only to get to the Crucible, which has been my dream since I was a kid.

“It was actually more important for me because winning and getting there meant I stay on the tour and can rebuild for next season and the year after. The pressure on that match against Rob Milkins on Monday night was incredible. I felt quite calm as I went 9-4 up.

“Then he wins four frames on the bounce to come back to 9-8 and I’m thinking ‘I have to pull something out of the bag here’.

“I have good people around me who give me good advice, my coach Chris, my good friend Kev and I got some good advice from Shaun Murphy on Sunday.

“That was just to forget about what is at stake, which is easy to do as it is huge, and take one ball at a time. Otherwise it is impossible to play. And it worked for me in that final qualifier.”

Like Dennis Taylor, who famously won the 1985 world title wearing glasses, Carty also needs spectacles to play.

“I wear the glasses because when I went to try and have laser eye surgery a few years ago they said it wasn’t an option,” he said.

“Basically my left eye is absolutely useless. So I cue under my right eye, my dominant eye, and it has worked since I started playing. I would be all right if I had two eyes!”

Sheffield-based Ding Junhui also begins his Crucible quest today, against qualifier Mark King this afternoon, while Kyren Wilson has a bye after Anthony Hamilton withdrawal yesterday.

Three-times winner Mark Williams plays fellow veteran Alan McManus this evening.

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