This week, one of the icons of boom time snooker...
Kirk Stevens was snooker’s man in the white suit: a stylish, entertaining Canadian who will forever be associated with the 147 he made at the 1984 Masters and then a sad, drug addicted, fall from grace.
Good looking and sporting a white suit, he resembled John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever during the game’s rock ‘n’ roll years of the 1980s.
He reached as high as fourth in the world rankings and was a Crucible semi-finalist in 1980 and 1984.
Indeed, he came close both times to reaching the final, losing 16-13 to Alex Higgins and then 16-14 to Jimmy White.
Stevens was among a varied cast of characters who flourished in snooker’s boom period and made up a kind of holy trinity of Canadian players alongside Cliff Thorburn and Bill Werbeniuk who together won the World Team Cup in 1982.
Stevens’s 147 at Wembley in 1984 rates as one of the most exciting maximum breaks ever seen, given the time – there had only previously been two on TV – and the atmosphere, his opponent being London’s favourite, White.
The actor Donald Sutherland was in town and this was the first frame of live snooker he had ever seen.
He must have wondered if the crowd got up and cheered to the rafters after every frame.
It was an iconic moment of the 1980s boom, but life would take a darker turn for the popular Stevens.
In 1985, he played South African Silvino Francisco in the British Open final. During a break in play, Francisco accused Stevens in the toilet of being ‘high as a kite’ on drugs.
He made off the record allegations to a journalist which were tape recorded and then reported.
Eventually, Stevens confessed to a newspaper that he was ‘hopelessly addicted’ to cocaine. The paper paid for his treatment in a drug rehabilitation clinic in Toronto.
This was a private problem played out on the front pages of the national press.
It was an addiction that almost cost him his life and eventually cost him his professional career.
Stevens drifted down the rankings and eventually dropped off the tour in 1993.
He headed back to Canada and undertook a number of jobs, as varied as a car salesman and lumberjack.
Stevens re-qualified in 1998 through winning the North American play-off and spent one more season on the circuit but could not recapture former glories.
Now 50, he still plays and last year won the Canadian Championship, which enabled him to play in the IBSF World Amateur Championship.
If a seniors tour ever got off the ground, Stevens would be a popular draw.
For all his problems, he contributed to a large degree in the excitement of that golden time when snooker ruled the TV airwaves.