By far the most recognisable name in action on day one of the World Championship qualifiers tomorrow is that of Tony Knowles, a three-times semi-finalist at the Crucible in the 1980s.
Knowles was one of snooker’s pin-up boys in the boom time. No doubt to women of a certain age he still occupies that category.
He was also a very good player but never quite landed one of the game’s really big titles.
A couple of ranking event victories did not lead to a triumph at, say, Sheffield or Wembley.
This certainly looked a possibility when Knowles sensationally beat Steve Davis, the then defending champion, 10-1 in the first round of the 1982 World Championship, which is still considered to be one of the biggest shocks of all time.
His first Crucible semi-final came in 1983 and he was very unlucky not to go through after Cliff Thorburn fluked what was effectively match ball to beat him 16-15.
In 1985, he came a cropper to Dennis Taylor and went down to Joe Johnson the following year.
Part of the reason why he didn’t achieve as much as he may have done was undoubtedly the attention he received for what Snooker Scene called a “three-part part farrago of sexual boasting” in a tabloid newspaper.
Indeed, Knowles was fined over this for “bringing the game into disrepute” – perhaps the most bogus offence in sport bearing in mind the disreputable elements that often end up in positions of power in various governing bodies.
Knowles is not renowned for brevity when it comes to giving his point of view. I once asked him, in all innocence, if he thought he could get back to the top of the game and he replied, “well, they ruined the game when they changed the tables in 1986.”
Decades passed, or so it felt, as Tony detailed every single development he believed had taken the game backwards.
He turned up at the qualifiers one year with bandages on his back after somehow tipping a jug of boiling water over himself.
His cult status was assured when Peter Kay named one of Brian Potter’s suites after him in the Channel 4 sitcom Phoenix Nights.
Knowles, now 53, faces Ali Bassiri in the first qualifying round tomorrow.
He won’t reach the Crucible but it speaks volumes for his love of snooker that he has entered the game’s biggest event once again.