Getting to grips with Ronnie’s Chimp Model and cue butt

‘I understand what Suarez did – I totally get it . . . it’s like me walking out against Hendry’

Ronnie O’Sullivan: struggling to control his inner chimp at The Crucible.  Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Ronnie O’Sullivan: struggling to control his inner chimp at The Crucible. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images


It was only the week before last that sports psychologists were queuing up to offer advice to Luis Suarez to help cure his nibbling issue, one of them recommending “progressive relaxation” therapy that, if successful, would transform him in to Mr Mellow.

A week later and Ronnie O’Sullivan was recommending his sports psychologist, Dr Steve Peters, to Luis, telling the Liverpool man that he, too, had had moments of madness during his career, even if his chosen comparison seemed a little non-similiar: “I understand what Suarez did – I totally get it . . . it’s like me walking out against Hendry.”

The BBC tracked down Dr Peters for a chat on Saturday, just to check with him how he had sufficiently calmed the incendiary device that is Ronnie to allow him pot, say, a red and a pink without headbutting an an official or opponent in between. It was, he told us, all down to The Chimp Model, “a simple way of understanding how the mind works”.

To which the uninitiated could really only have said: “Huh?”

“So when Ronnie walks out there to play snooker,” he explained, “inevitably the chimp will kick off and start justifiably saying I don’t want to be here, this is going to be threatening, who knows what it will say?”

The real disappointment in all of this was that Hazel Irvine didn’t ask her guests Steve Davis, John Parrott and Ken Doherty to comment on The Chimp Model, because you sensed their response might have been quite entertaining, Ken, perhaps, opting for “ah, for **** sake”, Steve maybe going for “interesting”, and John possibly choosing “no mark, like”.

By then, of course, Ronnie’s Chimp had gotten himself in to a whole heap of bother, not least with that moment he “motioned with his cue between his legs”, earning him a warning from referee Michaela Tabb. “My hands are sticky, you get sticky hands through sweating, my cue butt was sweating maybe,” he explained, admirably not choosing to blame a loose chimp.

But then he revealed to the world that he had come close to cracking during his stay in Sheffield, which suggested the chimp was, alas, kicking off again and that Dr Peters had his work cut out to tame it.

So, maybe the Chimp Model in question isn’t a route Suarez needs to pursue at all, despite Ronnie’s recommendation. Liverpool will think carefully, you’d imagine, about it all, they may even consult one of their resident sports psychologist . . . eh, Dr Peters.

Each to their own, of course, some mega sports stars couldn’t do without the intervention of these psychologists, while others say ‘you’re grand, thanks’. Angel Cabrera, famously and rather deliciously, after one of his Major wins, declared: “There are some players who have psychologists and sportologists – I smoke.”

He’s since (almost) given up the fags, and despite a less than perfect grasp of English once sighed “enough already” when asked about his “I smoke” quote, just wanting to move on and forgetaboutit.

Granted, it’s a tenuous link, but if Angel had ever heard of Hull City he’d probably light a cigar in their honour. Both nonsense sporting institutions.

Lovely sporting moments
Paul McShane’s goal for Hull in Saturday’s game against Cardiff was one of those highly lovely sporting moments, the Sky commentator squealing so loudly it sounded like a chimp had been let loose in his head.

The dying moments: missed penalty, conceded penalty, a draw, then eight-ish minutes of the Hull players watching Watford trying to deny them promotion to the Premier League. Which they failed to do.

Yesterday’s encounter between Manchester United and Chelsea was considerably less thrilling. “It’s been a little like kissing your sister by standards of this fixture in the past,” said Martin Tyler at half-time. “Fair comment,” said Ray Wilkins, a gobsmacked Jamie Redknapp beside him looking like a man being threatened by a chimp. His cue butt was, maybe, sweating too.

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