World Snooker: McManus backing McGill to take Sheffield by storm

Anthony McGill will make his Crucible debut against Stephen Maguire

Anthony McGill will make his Crucible debut against Stephen Maguire

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Scotland’s Anthony McGill has been tipped to take the Crucible by storm as he heads for Sheffield to make his Betfred World Championship debut.

The 24-year-old will face a fellow Glaswegian in the first round, having been handed a tough draw against Stephen Maguire.

But McGill’s friend, veteran potter Alan McManus, is convinced the player he has taken under his wing is heading for the very top of the snooker world.

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And while McGill becomes shy when he is mentioned alongside great Scottish cuemen such as Stephen Hendry and John Higgins, it is widely expected he will blossom into an elite player.

“So many guys have gone there and crumbled and not won a match. But Ants is going to do damage up there,” McManus said.

“Whether he beats a big name, it doesn’t really matter too much for me this year, but (in the long term) he’s going to do some damage.

“I’ve tried to give him advice - I’ve walked part of the path, I’ve been a pro for quite a long time and I’ve seen guys go both ways.

“I know what their habits are, what they do, what they don’t do, who they mix with, who they don’t mix with. If I see something that’s not going to help him, I say ‘Listen, you can do what you like but give that one a miss’.

“I tell him, ‘Separate yourself from the crowd - like Hendry, Davis. You can’t just be part of the in-crowd, you don’t want to be part of that. This is a one-man band, this game’.”

McGill, whose shock of red hair makes him instantly recognisable, will have plenty of support at a tournament that has been won by Scots for 12 of the last 25 years.

But the two greatest influences on his career are unlikely to be in the crowd. They are the parents, Tam and Helen, who build a snooker room at the back of their home when internal wrangling within Scottish snooker meant practising in a club was an uncomfortable experience for the young McGill.

“And every weekend they’d take me to tournaments up and down the UK. Their influence has been immeasurable, just scary,” said McGill.

They would love to see their son’s Crucible debut, but work commitments make it unlikely to happen.

“My dad’s working and I don’t think he can get the time off, and my mum’s working as well, so that’s just life. I’d love it if they could get the time off but it’s probably doubtful,” McGill said.

“My dad drives lorries and does night shifts every night, drives down to Coventry and back, and my mum’s a nurse in Glasgow. They work hard and put the hours in.”

So does McGill, with 44-year-old McManus, who has also qualified for the World Championship, a wise influence at his side.

“He probably drummed the work ethic into me, how you’ve got to get up and practise every day, nothing’s going to get handed to you, how you’ve got to go and get it, and if you keep doing the right things day after day eventually things may pull your way,” McGill said.

“All these little things add up, and if you put them all together you’ve got a good thing going on there. I’m sure they help in pressure situations.

“I’ve learnt so much from Alan, I wouldn’t be anywhere near the player I am if it wasn’t for him.”