As a 23 year old male (23 and 12 months next month) with ‘Sex Pistols’ tattooed up his left forearm, you’d be excused for not immediately branding me as a huge snooker fan. Yet that indeed I am. As I sit (very much alone) in my room, fixated on a 3 hour recorded clip of Doug Mountjoy vs Steve Davies in the 1981 world championship final. You will more than likely laugh at why I wonder why I’m almost entirely alone when it comes to snooker and my age bracket.
The 1985 final between Dennis Taylor and Steve Davies drew in viewers of 18.5 million, when Taylor finally managed to sink the black after a barrage of nervy attempts. Tantalising stuff back then, something which was a huge talking point across the whole country for years to come. Consistently ranked as one of the top sporting moments of all time, you ask the youth of today about that final, and receive an acne ridden vacant gawp staring back at you. You ask anyone over the age of 50, and they’ll relish the chance to tell you where they were when they watched it.
Is snooker boring? Well even to myself sometimes yes, I’d rather substitute sand paper for toilet roll than watch a Peter Ebdon qualifier, but that doesn’t mean all snooker is like this. Alex Higgins, Jimmy White, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump clips on YouTube are ones I refresh endlessly. This is what got me interested in snooker in the first place. Higgins’s miraculous 69 break against White in the 1982 world semi-final holds a place in every snooker fans heart as the by-standard for showmanship and bottle (A different type of bottle Higgins’s was accustomed too).
Barry Hearn, ‘Matchroom Sport’ chairman, did change the face of snooker in the late 70’s 80’s and early 90’s. Alex Higgins won £400 for his world championship win in 1972, a decade later in 1982 he won £25,000. Yet after these periods snooker has drifted back into the void I feel, yes it has its own dedicated fanbase still, chain smoking, stout drinking radicals such as myself, but it is by no means in the mainstream anymore.
Without question the biggest draw today is O’Sullivan, but at 45, he will not be around forever. Arguably the only name non-snooker fans will know, who’s to take the torch? Well that monumental pressure seems has fallen on Judd Trump’s shoulders. A left hander who’s been compared to Jimmy White, Trump does not possess the showmanship off the table O’Sullivan and Higgins possessed. In other words. You can’t see Trump making the papers for headbutting a referee. I’m not saying I agree with Higgin’s many outbursts, tantrums and assault charges, but launching a telly through a hotel window would at least get snooker back into the columns, come on Judd, pull your finger out pal.
The youth have moved on from snooker it seems, the personalities and PR of the 80’s is a distant memory, that I unfortunately have only got to witness through a website. The disdain I hold for the older generation that never bothered with snooker in this period makes my blood boil, especially when you have the likes of Shaun Murphy (who can tell you what Barry Hearn’s abdomen smells like) saying how the sport needs to move on from the “fag packet era”, which is without question snooker’s golden era.
Alas It unfortunately seems I will continue to exist as an outcast amongst my era, if a ‘Sex Pistols’ tattoo up my arm doesn’t do it, I suppose John Virgo’s “WHERES THE CUE BALL GOING” as a text alert certainly will.
If a closet potter does exist out there, and so happens to read this, get in touch, we could rest on some cushions, rattle some jaws, or even play snooker if you like.