ANTHONY McGill’s extraordinary World Snooker Championship debut ran its course at the quarter-final stage, but the Glaswegian hopes his first appearance at the Crucible will not be his last.
The shy 24-year-old has won the hearts of the viewers over the last 12 days, with magnificent victories over compatriot Steven Maguire and reigning world champion Mark Selby.
But Shaun Murphy eventually proved too strong for McGill yesterday, winning four frames on the spin to seal a 13-8 victory.
The Scot has earned £30,000 for his performance this week and a rise to a career-high world ranking of 24th.
Now McGill has had a taste of the big time, he is hungry for more.
“I’ve learned that this is the best place ever to play, hopefully I can come back,” he said. “I’m just really grateful that I’ve had a chance to play here.
“People kept saying I was getting good receptions, I was just amazed.
“My family are really proud, they’ve seen me grow up obviously and it makes them really proud to see me now playing here. It makes me proud as well. It’s not easy to get here.
“I don’t think anyone belongs here you have to earn it, but I felt great. I loved it. Hopefully I can do it again out there.
“I’ve surprised myself a bit here. I was just hoping to qualify. I thought if I could qualify then that would be job well done.
“I won my first match and I was like ‘my god’ then I beat Mark Selby and I was like ‘oh my god’. Now it’s more ‘oh no’.
“There’s obviously a bit of disappointment, because you know that you’re one win away from the one-table format. You watch that on TV and it just looks incredible, but I was not expecting to get anywhere near it, so it’s not a massive disappointment.”
McGill, who reached the UK Championship quarter-final this season, was hoping to become only the third Crucible debutant to reach the semi-finals after Andy Hicks in 1995 and Terry Griffiths in 1979.
To do so though, the last qualifier to win in Sheffield was standing in his way and Murphy took a 9-7 lead into yesterday’s afternoon session having won three of the final four frames on Tuesday night.
He showed no sign of nerves despite being on the brink of carving out his own slice of history, going agonisingly close to making his fourth century of the tournament, with a 95-break in the opening frame.
But he was virtually powerless to stop what was to follow.
McGill was confined to his chair as Murphy knocked in 72 and after winning frames 19 and 20 he took the match with a break of 67.
The young Scotsman looked understandably short of energy as the gruelling quarter-final came to a close and admitted he was second best.
“I was completely hammered, he was far too good,” was McGill’s brutally honest assessment.
“At 10-9 I missed a green with the rest, but if I’d have got closer and won that match it would probably have been the wrong result on reflection. He played very well.
“The guy is a world champion, he’s ten years older than me. He’s been here many, many times. I’m just coming up and he’s already up there, so that’s the difference. It just takes time.”
When the new season kicks off, he is likely to gain most of the attention once more. Social media has been abuzz with what they have seen from McGill and he has even earned the nickname “Licence to Thrill” from charismatic MC Rob Walker.
And though he is not completely sold on that moniker, he is grateful to have people taking notice after years plugging away relatively anonymously on the junior circuit.
“I might change my name by deed poll if that is going to stick,” he said of his nickname. “We need to find something else!
“I’ve had so much support it’s amazing, even from people who don’t know me. I’ve barely heard a bad word about me.
“It’s been such an enjoyable experience. I’ve been blown away by the well wishes.”
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