13 April 2012 10:43

LONDON - The record books show Judd Trump finished as runner-up at last year's Betfred.com World Championship.
Record books are always useful, because even after John Higgins doubled the pink and rolled in the black to seal his 18-15 victory, the sense prevailed that Trump was the real winner.
The youngster from Bristol, on only his second appearance at the Crucible, illuminated the tournament with one thrilling performance after another.
He knocked out defending champion Neil Robertson on day one to light the touchpaper, and won himself and snooker a generation of new fans by playing the kind of daring, high-risk game which had become almost unfashionable.
Jimmy White was the crowd-pleaser of his day, Ronnie O'Sullivan can switch it on whenever he likes, but Trump attacked and attacked until he had floored everyone but Higgins. He became the darling of Sheffield and took snooker into unforeseen realms, not least trending on Twitter, where his followers grew from a handful to tens of thousands.
The strutting 21-year-old with the boy-band haircut had only landed his first senior title of note at the start of April but by the start of May he was a household name.
A year on, he returns as the sponsors' title favourite and as the reigning UK champion, having swept to glory in York in December.
Higgins inevitably has fond memories of last year, but what sticks in his mind most of all was the reception he and Trump received heading into the concluding session of the final.
It was the nearest snooker will ever come to Beatlemania, with anticipation bubbling up to the most phenomenal roar as the players entered from the top stair of the arena, rather than the familiar table-side gangway.
Willie Thorne, in the BBC commentary box, was in tears as he said of Trump: "The crowd have taken this young man to their hearts. He knows what it's like to be a pop star."
Trump strode down the steps first; Higgins had to wait his turn. A star was born, and Higgins appreciates it was the English youngster's heroic run which generated the buzz.
"A lot of it was down to Judd Trump and the style that he brought to the tournament," Higgins told Press Association Sport this week.
"I'd never experienced anything like it. I would dearly love to get back there and have that experience again because it was breathtaking.
"I was standing outside when Judd was introduced and even the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up, and that was through two big double doors. When they opened the door up to me and the crowd were going mental, that was something I don't think I'll ever forget."
Trump has since climbed to number two in the world rankings, behind only Mark Selby, and how he copes with being expected to win in Sheffield is the great unanswered question ahead of the tournament, which begins on April 21.
He certainly does not lack confidence. Following his York triumph Trump took a swipe at the handful of players who have questioned his tactics, saying: "They all know my weaknesses and my strengths and if they still can't beat me like that, when I'm not playing great, then if I start playing well hopefully I'll beat them easier.
"Before this tournament I said no one could really dominate the game, but playing this week has probably changed my mind."
In Barry Hearn's mind, Trump is the best thing that could have happened to snooker.
The World Snooker chairman has said Trump fits his vision of the very player he would invent to spruce up the sport.
Stephen Lee, who beat Trump in the final round of qualifying for the 2010 World Championship, suggested at the time that the chirpy youngster needed to be brought down a peg.
With Lee hailing from Trowbridge, he had known about the hype within snooker which had surrounded Trump from the moment he made a 147 in competition at the age of 14.
But Lee's view has been tempered, and the world number eight has been won over by Trump's charms.
"Judd's a terrific player. I knew of Judd Trump years and years ago," Lee said.
"I think he played outstandingly in the Worlds last year. I watched some of it once everyone was saying how good his long shots were, how he was on the crest of a wave. We've all been there, and he is a class act.
"To go and achieve at his age, under that pressure, you've got to take your hat off." (PA)