STUART BINGHAM says he feels refreshed and ready for the Betway UK Championship after taking part in an ‘incredible” exhibition event in Romania alongside Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Ball Run warmed up with two nights of best-of-nine matches with the Rocket in Bucharest ahead of the first Triple Crown event of the season in York this week.
The BBC-televised tournament runs between November 24 and December 6 at the York Barbican and No 1 seed Bingham starts against Northern Ireland amateur Jordan Brown at 2.30pm on Thursday, November 26.
Bingham said: “It was good to get a run of of high quality snooker against someone of Ronnie’s class and in front of a big crowd. So I hope it will be good preparation for York.
“And I have made the semis at the UK Championships for the last two years – I lost to Ronnie last year and Neil Robertson the year before – so it is a competition I know I can do well in.”
Bingham has just flown back from Romania, where he played five-time world champion O’Sullivan in front of a 2,000-capacity crowd at the Globus Circus venue. (You can watch the action on YouTube by clicking here).
The stars were kept busy signing autographs, chatting to fans and posing for photos throughout their stay, and Bingham admits it was one of the warmest welcomes he has ever had in any country.
He said: “It was an incredible trip from start to finish. It started with a man picking us up at the airport and a transfer to the hotel in a Jaguar. We also had our own bodyguard at all times, and he had a gun! Not that there was ever any trouble.
“They said tickets sold out quicker that an Elton John concert – 2,000 went in under an hour. And the venue was incredible, like a circus arena.
“It was just an unreal experience, but however good I say it was it was probably 20 times better than that. If I ever got the chance to do it again I would jump at the chance.”
Bingham lost 5-4 on the first night against O’Sullivan and 5-3 on the second night, with Ball Run then winning two bonus frames. But the duo will be on the same team when they take part in the Dafabet Irish Legends Cup in Country Kildare on January 23-24. (Tickets are available by clicking here).
They will be on the England team alongside Jimmy White and Tony Knowles, as they face an Ireland side featuring Ken Doherty, Mark Allen, Joe Swail and Fergal O’Brien.
Bingham said: “It is straight after the Masters and I am looking forward to it. Ali Carter took part in it last year and he said it was brilliant so I’m sure it will be a good battle again with the Irish fellas.”
At the start of November Bingham also helped snooker sponsors Betway with a specially-arranged match between two West Ham United football stars at the Grove Snooker Academy in Romford.
Dubbed the ‘Boleyn Boys’ Shoot-Out’, it saw Essex-born defender Carl Jenkinson play big Geordie striker Andy Carroll. The winner got the chance to lift the UK Championship trophy – the loser was made to clean his team-mate’s boots for a week!
Bingam and fellow pro Judd Trump were drafted in to help coach the footballers ahead of the showdown, which was won by Jenkinson, a 23-year-old from Harlow. (You can watch the encounter on YouTube by clicking here).
Bingham said: “It was good fun and interesting to talk to Premier League footballers about how much they train and what it is like doing what they do.
“They both did well and it made for a good game. But obviously neither wanted to lose so I don’t think Andy was too pleased in the end!”