Let me confess – while I have played snooker on odd occasions over the years, usually on half of less size snooker tables, I am a pretty bad player, unlikely to improve. But I have loosely followed the game since it became televised when in my teens – black and white to start but then colour, when the game really began to take off.
I go back to the days when legends like Joe Davis ruled the snooker world and my grandmother following the game. I began to follow the game more in earnest at the time another legend rose to the fore – Steve Davis (unrelated – both Davis’s pictured above). It became a popular TV spectacle that has gone on to spread its wings worldwide and has attracted big time money and sponsorship – much like golf has done. I tended to confine my viewing to the big one – the World Championship – held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, over the May Bank Holiday weekend. Not that I have followed it for all those 40 years but I have watched bits of the action, especially the Final, in many of those. These are well staged occasions – suspense filled, outstanding skill, psychological tension, compelling viewing, superb sportsmanship, supported by insightful commentary often from heroes of a bygone age and interspersed with all sorts of cleverly thought out entertaining features – which when packaged together adds up to great entertainment and no wonder the popularity.
I recall many memorable incidents – Thorburn’s maximum break, Davis’s first victory, Davis losing to Dennis Taylor on the final black, Stephen Hendry victories, bad boys – Alex Higgins, my favourite – Jimmy White, lots of other larger than life personalities etc. I was reminded of all this over the weekend just gone when both Sunday and Monday evening, unplanned, I watched this year’s final between Mike Selby and John Higgins (see here). It was riveting and pleasurable viewing, with the match swinging one way and then the other as it progressed, with both players putting in fantastic performances, with Selby coming out victorious. I daresay, while not prolific in my viewing, I will be a fan of snooker to my dying day.