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I owe my army of fans this one; WHITE VOWS TO DELIVER.

Jimmy White ambles into the press room at The Crucible Theatre, fag in one hand and a fistful of dreams in the other.

The 35-year-old artful dodger is relaxed and insisting he can still capture the most elusive prize of all.

When you consider what the proud dad of four daughters has gone through - wife Maureen is expecting their fifth child - that might surprise a few people.

In almost two decades of making his annual pilgrimage to Sheffield, White has been to hell and back.

This maverick of the green baize, who has endured more than his fair share of personal trauma, has played in SIX Embassy World finals - and lost the lot.

Four defeats came against Scotland's Stephen Hendry, one against John Parrott and the other at the hands of Steve Davis.

Others would have chucked their cue into the nearest dustbin - but not our Jimmy.

When he breezed into The Crucible yesterday afternoon, he looked as if he didn't have a care in the world.

Already through to a last-eight clash with Ronnie O'Sullivan thanks to blistering victories over Hendry and Welshman Darren Morgan, he is a man with a mission.

White is driven by a desire to show that he can finally raise aloft the Embassy crown and deservedly earn his place in snooker's Hall of Fame.

White insisted: "Yes, I can win it.

"I owe it to my army of fans who have stuck by me throughout all the years and I owe it to myself.

"I've had my heartaches in Sheffield, but whatever has happened in the past, it has never stopped me wanting to come back.

"No-one appreciates any more than I do the fantastic level of support I've had and hopefully I'm going to make a lot of people smile come the end of the championship."

White is one brave man. In the last two years he has lost mum Lil and older brother Martin.

White himself has had to come through a cancer scare.

He was also made bankrupt after blowing away more than pounds 3 million.

But through it all, and to his eternal credit, White has never stopped smiling.

That's one of the reasons the bulk of the nation is cheering on his every shot here at the Crucible.

Fans also love his devil-may-care approach to the game.

His flamboyant style and flashing genius around the table makes him the game's favourite son.

There's still a long way to go if White is to achieve the biggest goal of his life. But he does have a growing self- belief that he can do it.

It's shared by dad Tommy, a sprightly pensioner who invariably has a copy of the Sporting Life tucked away in his suit.

Tommy wasn't spotted at the Crucible yesterday. Instead, he was enjoying a pint at one Sheffield's bowling clubs.

With that ever-present twinkle in his eye, White senior said: "My boy's magic - simple as that."

No- one would argue with that. The question is: can White can dig deep enough into his box of tricks and finally lift the piece of silverware he craves more than any other?
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Docherty, John
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 28, 1998
Previous Article:Rocket out to break his idol's heart.
Next Article:Just no doubting Thomas.

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