Just yards away from the Crucible Theatre at Sheffield’s Tudor Square, a lone busker performs daily with his flute as his dog nods off like one of the hoary old regulars at snooker’s World Championship.
His favourite tune tends to be Dirty Old Town, an apt melancholic ditty for a northern city built on the sweat, grime, memories and heavy industry of yesteryear.
A bit like 40 years of potting balls inside the Crucible.
In many respects, Mark Selby is a similar nod to harsher and harder times. And not just because of his match garb that looks like he got dressed below stairs to serve dishes to tables rather than dish up on the table.
He might be a prolific performer and the undisputed number one earner in his sport having snagged £1,298,425 over the past two years, but Selby is also one of life’s good guys, a grounded working class lad who has become world class at cue sports despite being hampered by life’s unrelenting cruelty.
He became a three-times world champion on Monday night set against the backdrop of his mother walking out of his life when he was eight and his father David, who encouraged his eloquent snooker brush strokes, losing his battle with lung cancer when he was 16.
Such achievement should always be recognised when discussing Selby's personal qualities because it is a greater feat than climbing the north face of the Eiger. Or making a maximum without a cue.
Selby became a man before he was allowed to enjoy being a boy as he was forced to put away childish things. Apart from the snooker cue that has acted as a baton to a better life with wife Vikki and daughter Sofia Maria.
Selby sat inside the clammy Crucible on Sunday and Monday visibly telling himself to believe as he fought back from trailing 10-4 to usurp John Higgins 18-15 in a match that illustrated why attempting to unseat ‘The Jester from Leicester’ is no laughing matter for the chasing pack of men in bow ties. Selby has never stopped believing. He is an advert for believing in yourself.
Are we at the start of the Selby snooker dynasty? Or are we at the end? There is every chance we are slap bang in the middle of this Selby upsurge.
Four-times champion Higgins said on Saturday night he felt Selby, 33, had a real chance to track down Stephen Hendry’s landmark haul of seven titles at the Crucible set in the 1990s.
He was in no mood to alter his mind after seeing Selby, who looks like he is built to run marathons rather than play them, mount an astonishing recovery to win 14 of the final 19 frames to enhance his collection of pots won in 2014 and 2016.
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: Man of steel Selby has substance to topple Hendry as King of Crucible