The history of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ali Carter’s stunning feud

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ali Carter’s feud is far from over (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ali Carter are not good friends, and their disdain for each other has boiled over after the Masters final between the two on Sunday.

O’Sullivan picked up his eighth Masters title with a 10-7 win over the Captain, but there weren’t many pleasantries between the two after the contest.

The Rocket came from 3-6 behind to win the match and deny Carter his first Triple Crown title, something he enjoyed doing.

He told Eurosport after his win: ‘I thought let’s see if he had the bottle to get over the line. That was the only thing that turned me on tonight. Let’s just get him to that point. I want to see if he twitches. I love seeing it when their bottle goes. I love it.’

Carter, meanwhile, was aiming a criticism at O’Sullivan in a press conference, saying: ‘There were a couple of things that happened out there that go unnoticed. Well, they don’t go unnoticed – anyone with eyesight or a brain can see what’s going on.

‘It’s disgusting quite frankly. No one wants to say anything do they? (O’Sullivan) snotting all over the floor and all that. I mean it’s outrageous behaviour from a top professional. It it gets swept under the carpet then for me, it’s not good.’

When the comments were put to O’Sullivan in his own press conference, he was far from happy and went on something of a rant about his old foe.

‘He needs to sort his f***ing life out. I’m not going to skirt around it anymore, tip-toeing on egg shells around someone like that. He’s a f***ing nightmare,’ O’Sullivan told the Daily Mail.

MrQ Masters Snooker 2024 - Day Eight

O’Sullivan and Carter shared a brief fist bump after Sunday’s match (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Playing snooker against someone like that is a nightmare. He’s not a nice person. It’s not a nice vibe he leaves around the table.

‘He’s got issues. F***ing why has he got issues with me? I’m not having it. I don’t care, grow some balls. I don’t give a f about any of these snooker players, any of them.

‘The more he brings it on, the more I f***ing punish him every time. He’s just digging a grave for himself. I don’t give a f. That’s it, I’ve said my piece.’

O’Sullivan added: ‘He’s got to sort it out because I haven’t spoken to him for 20 years. I played with him when he was a kid and shared a lot of stuff with him.

‘For him to come out and try to trash talk me like that, do you know what? He can have one of them (middle finger), he can sit on it as far as I’m concerned.’

The Rocket was not exactly surprised that there was a clash, saying after he won his semi-final against Shaun Murphy: ‘If I play Carter it’s gonna be a right nightmare. He wants to get in my face. But I can deal with him.’

Asked by Eurosport what the problem is between the two, he said: ‘I think he’s got more of a problem with me than I have with him. He’s got something against me.

‘Maybe it’s because I’ve got a massive trophy cabinet full of trophies.’

The two players go back a long way, all the way to the junior ranks as they grew up in Essex and have spent a lot of time practicing together in the past.

Neither have spoken publicly about when their relationship really soured, but there was a very public spat at the Crucible in 2018 in what became known as ‘Bargegate’.

Carter led 10-8 in their World Championship second round contest and after O’Sullivan laid a snooker and was walking back to his chair, the two came together in what looked like a shoulder barge from the Rocket.

They then exchanged words, with Ronnie saying from his seat, ‘That’s for being Mr Angry’ and then telling Ali it was his turn to play a shot. Carter responded: ‘Thank you very much, very nice of you.’

It was a huge flashpoint in the usually serene sport, but both men actually played it down after Carter won the match 13-9. His first and still only big win over O’Sullivan.

Asked in the post-match press conference if there was a barge, Carter said: ‘Well there was a barge, wasn’t there?

‘At the end of the day I’m walking to the table, he’s walking away from the table. I was looking at the snooker table. I might have invaded his space, he might have invaded mine. It’s heat of the moment stuff, there’s not a load of room out there. We had a little shoulder barge and a laugh about it. There’s no malice there, I’ve got every ounce in me of respect for Ronnie.

‘We’ve known each other for a long, long time. We’re both desperately trying to win out there and today it was my day, I’m delighted.’

The 48-year-old and the 44-year-old do not get on (Picture: Getty Images)

Carter has twice beaten cancer, and referencing overcoming his health struggles, he said: ‘It’s heat of the moment. He will do anything he can to win and so will I.

‘He barged me but I’m sorry I’m not going to be bullied by anyone. I’ve been through a lot in my life, a lot harder things than a shoulder barge from someone. If I was going to fall over and roll on the floor, that’s not me as a person, it can’t be me, it’s impossible.’

The Captain downplayed the incident and said O’Sullivan had shook his hand and wished him luck after the match.

‘He didn’t exactly headbutt me and put me on the floor! It didn’t go too far at all,’ he said.

‘Ronnie’s just come up to me backstage, shook my hand and wished me all the best. When he’s turned me over time and time again I’ve shook his hand and wished him all the best. I wish him every success in the world and he probably does for me too. That’s the end of it.’

O’Sullivan said the same, telling a press conference: ‘It was nothing, heat of the moment stuff, as far as I’m concerned it’s forgotten about. I wish Ali all the best for the rest of the tournament.

‘I don’t think there’s anything to apologise about. I wished him good luck for the rest of the tournament, he played a fantastic match, there’s no hard feeling there. I grew up with Ali, practiced with him a lot, he’s a great player.’

MrQ Masters Snooker 2024 - Day Eight

O’Sullivan beat Carter 10-7 to win his eighth Masters title on Sunday (Picture: Getty Images)

However, when pushed on the situation he added: ‘Have you never been angry in your life? We all get angry sometimes.

‘If someone’s going to shoulder-barge into me, do I have to walk around him, tiptoe or do a little curtsy as if he’s the Queen or the King? Sometimes you have to stand your ground. I’m not a limbo dancer, you know.’

Carter had lost two World Championship finals to O’Sullivan before that incident, and he admitted that those defeats had caused him a lot of pain, which led to emotional celebrations after picking up a win over the Rocket at the Crucible.

‘It was a lot of emotion. I’ve waited a long time for this and I’m someone who doesn’t like losing at all, it hurts me,’ he said.

‘To lose to him twice in the final really did hurt me, big time, and that stays with you for a long time and that gives you the fight and determination when you need it to go on and pull off a victory like that. Obviously that was a bit of letting it all go.’

The barge issue appeared to be completely put to bed when Carter said O’Sullivan had apologised to him for the incident.

‘I spoke to him plenty about it, actually, there’s no hard feelings, it was heat of the moment stuff,’ Carter said after qualifying for the 2019 World Championship. ‘I haven’t been the fondest of Ronnie over the years, but I’ve got the ultimate respect for him as a player and what did give me ultimate respect for him was at the UK Championship, at the hotel when I was having breakfast.

‘This was some months later and he came over to me, he doesn’t need to speak to me, and he came over and said, “Ali, I’d just like to apologise and there’s no hard feelings” and he shook my hand. So I thought to myself “hats off to the man,” and he looked me straight in the eye when he said it and he meant it. It’s all water under the bridge and he’s a good guy.’

O’Sullivan beat Carter in the 2008 and 2012 World Snooker Championship finals (Picture: Getty Images)

O’Sullivan was less keen to play the good guy, though, denying that this apology took place.

‘I didn’t apologise to Ali,’ Ronnie told WST in 2020. ‘I just said, “Look, let’s move on, let’s not hold any grudges over it.”

‘I still feel that I was in the right, so that apology that they say that I said was definitely not an apology. More like, “Let’s just move on, it was what it was and it doesn’t really matter. I’ve got to see you around tournaments, you’ve got to see me, we might as well say hello to each other so let’s just break the ice.”’

When this was put to Carter, he was happy to brush it off with sarcasm, although did aim a dig at the Rocket.

‘Well look, whatever makes him happy. I must have imagined it then,’ Carter told Metro.co.uk. ‘It really makes no difference to my life whatsoever whether he apologised or whether he didn’t, I don’t care, whatever makes him happy.

‘But, I’m not going to make it up. Someone’s making it up and it’s either me or him, so take your choice. I generally know what I’m saying on a day-to-day basis. But, maybe I got it wrong? It’s a mystery.’

The feud is unlikely to be over now after the comments from both men on Sunday night. They are both in action on Tuesday at the World Grand Prix, live on ITV4, with Carter facing Wu Yize and O’Sullivan facing Pang Junxu.


MORE :
Ronnie O’Sullivan tells Ali Carter to ‘sort his f***ing life out’ in stunning rant after Masters win


MORE : Ronnie O’Sullivan regrets ‘stupid’ comments made ahead of latest Masters title

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