Former world champion Joe Johnson is planning a seniors tournament in his native Bradford next year, featuring legends such as Jimmy White, John Parrott and Alex Higgins.

I understand there will also be a new event featuring some of the game’s most established players later this year.

Quite a few sports have events for seniors. In both golf and tennis there are thriving circuits and there are also a number of Masters football competitions.

Snooker is an obvious choice for such a circuit. After all, it isn’t a sport that depends on physical fitness, although years and years of playing can take their toll on players’ backs and, of course, things such as eyesight decline as a player gets older.

There have been seniors tournaments in the past. In 1991, Matchroom promoted a televised World Seniors Championship, in the final of which Cliff Wilson beat Eddie Chalrton.

In 1997, the BBC screened Seniors Pot Black, featuring many well known faces from the original series. Johnson was the eventual winner.

And in 2000, a Seniors Masters was streamed live on the internet from the RAC Club in London, won by Willie Thorne.

So would seniors snooker be a winner?

Consider the following: Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Parrott, White, Nigel Bond, Dave Harold, David Roe, Tony Drago.

All players on the main tour, all 40 or over.

Ken Doherty turns 40 later this year; Peter Ebdon does so next year.

So there are plenty of players still competing and still capable of playing to a high standard who could make a seniors tour a spectacle worth watching.

If you go back further, it becomes a little more questionable as to what sort of standard could be produced. The likes of Cliff Thorburn, Tony Knowles and Dennis Taylor are all popular stars of yesteryear, but they don’t play snooker regularly and therefore the enthusiasm for seeing them in action may wane pretty quickly.

I saw Higgins play in the Irish Professional Championship a couple of years ago. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience.

However, what the veterans do have is the ability to interact with the crowd. They learned their trade doing exhibitions in the days before a living could be made on the professional circuit.

They can do trick shots and tell jokes and generally entertain.

This is lacking from normal tournaments – as it should be (you don’t get Roger Federer or Tiger Woods cracking jokes when they’re playing) – but in a less serious environment it may appeal to audiences.

That said, the image of the old guard as being wisecracking ‘characters’ who didn’t take the game seriously is entirely false. The likes of Taylor, Thorburn and Ray Reardon were among the hardest matchplayers ever to take to the green baize. They despised losing and never gave an inch on the table.

My own view on seniors snooker is that it would be a novelty that would create huge interest at first and then the novelty would probably start to wear off.

As ever, it all depends on how it’s marketed and where it’s played.

I certainly think there is a market for it but, of course, someone has to pay for it, through sponsorship and/or a broadcast partner.

I think in some ways snooker’s past is a millstone around the sport’s neck. Constant comparisons with the ‘good old days’ don’t do the modern game any favours, not least because it doesn’t take into account changes in society and the complete transformation of television.

But the current professional circuit exists largely because of the efforts of those who have gone before.

I don’t think anyone would begrudge them another turn in the spotlight.


Anonymous said...

They'll be more folk wanting to watch this than a regular ranking event.

Chris Turner said...

It would be great to have some Seniors events if not a full tour. This was tried a few years ago as David mentioned but packed up after one event through no sponsors or TV coverage.

In addition to the names mentioned, there are also Darren Morgan and Dene O'Kane, two former pros who hve done well on the 'amateur' seniors events. The likes of Neal Foulds and Mike Hallett should also be considered. In fact there are so many that you might have to up the age limit to 45 or even 50! Why not have two events - one for the over 40s and another for the over 50's like Hallett, Davis and Johnson or even Kirk Stevens.

pete@cuesport.tv said...

I remember being approached about a senior's circuit towards the end of last year, sponsors pulled out and that was the last I heard of it.

If the right package was put together a broadcaster would be found no problem and it may even be an ideal type of series to show live online.

Anonymous said...

Just having Alex there is bound to generate interest. They should look to resurrect Kirk's white suit too. To the earlier poster, I read that Mike Hallett is in it which isn't surprising given his close working relationship with Joe Johnson at Eurosport. I'm not sure that a tour would take off but a one off seniors World Championship I'm sure would see some interest if it is promoted properly. Perhaps consider limiting it to six reds as I assume most of them will be a bit rusty.

I remember the last one a few years back, Eddie Charlton had more hair than in his heyday, courtesy of a decidedly dodgy syrup.

Anonymous said...

I'm a massive snooker fan, as big as you can get. If you think I'm interested in watching an even older version of the players of yesteryear in favour of the new exciting breed then you're off your head!

Not interested in the slightest, me. Forget that idea and concentrate on getting some big ranking events in continental Europe.

Dave H said...

You can have both, though.

It's the WPBSA's job to stage ranking events. Private promoters should be able to put on their own events (ncluding seniors) if they have the money to do so.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Indeed, I do remember the 2000 tournament. You say it was streamed on the internet. Was that tournament all part of Cuemasters takeover at the time, as I seem to remember that it was re-branded and pratically took every snooker hack with them?

And, if some promoter wants to do it - fantastic! But, Darts tried a similar thing which went out last year but, has been put on hold for this year. So, characters or not, it may not be enough these days, unless somebody comes forward with a proper business model that can last more than one year methinks!

Thanks, Joe

Dave H said...

Joe, no it wasn't to do with Cuemasters. It was two businessmen who put it together.

I think the best way to go with seniors may be to link them to current tournaments in some way.

Anonymous said...

no disrespect to the others but if Hendry plays in seniors itll be like the 90s all over again ...Total Dominance.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for that. But it was streamed by Cuemasters...wasn't it?

Well, if the WSA get involved with this idea (which am sure they won't,) maybe it could be linked to these smaller tournaments about to take place.

But it means getting everyone around the table to discuss it...would the WSA be up for discussions?

Thanks, Joe

Dave H said...

No it wasn't streamed by Cuemasters, although they were streaming events at around the same time.

Anonymous said...

Do any recordings exist of this Seniors Masters from 2000?

Chris said...

I think that a Seniors tour would be great! Possibly 6 reds would be a little easier for most of them. But, I would much rather watch the likes of Hallett, Johnson, Foulds, Taylor (both Dennis and David Taylor), Foulds, Thorne, Griffiths, Knowles, Thorburn, Kirk Stevens,...rather than Hendry, Drago, Bond, Ebdon,...for a Seniors event. I'm not saying I would rather watch older and retired players than Hendry and Drago for example but I would always see a Seniors event as an event for the first players I mentioned, Hallett, Johnson etc. instead of players that are already on the Main Tour as we see them a lot and not as much as the older players who are now commentators or retired, it would make it a lot of a better event and more fun in my opinion. It would make the Seniors event a unique one. They could bring back a form of Pot Black for Seniors (like was done before) but maybe with 6 reds? As long as it is successful with sponsors etc. it would be great to see a Seniors tour. I'd would certainly watch it and I think it would be great for it to be on TV one day, hopefully. Good luck to Joe Johnson for the event and I hope there is a live stream somewhere.


Anonymous said...

they should definitely make it over 50's

Anonymous said...

yes otherwise itll be dominated by the likes of Hendry,Parrott,Wattana,doherty etc...main tour players infact.

Anonymous said...

Main piece is a little hard on Thorburn he plays snooker and pool as regularly as he can in Canada either in tournaments or in exhibitions. He probably plays more than Taylor who can rely on after dinner speaking and BBC fees as commentator to a greater degree.

Anonymous said...

doug mountjoy is annother who was top playing in bradford is becuase its the home town of joe it would be grate if they was to come to wales

Dave H said...

I certainly didn't mean to do Cliff down - the man's a legend