Stephen Hendry began the decade as world champion and ends it as world no.10.

This represents a decline but it has not been a dramatic one, more a gradual falling away and, make no mistake, he’s still a tough proposition and as determined as ever.

Hendry won four ranking titles during the decade, the last in 2005. He appeared in 12 ranking finals. Only Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams featured in more.

But his chief battle was with his own past. This was a man who won 27 titles and appeared in 38 finals from the 90 ranking events staged in the 1990s.

At one stage he won five in a row. The last time someone won two in a row in this decade was five years ago.

Such an unprecedented record of success could never be sustained and so any dip in form would be pounced on by those wishing to say he was no longer the force he once was.

And, of course, he isn’t but, as he proved at the Crucible just this year, he is capable of raising his game on the big occasions, though not for prolonged enough spells to seriously threaten for major titles.

Let us also remember that his consistency enabled him to return to the top of the rankings in 2006.

For fans of the 90s Hendry, it can be painful watching him struggle. Yet, when commentators say things such as “he never missed a long ball 15 years ago” they are quite obviously wrong. He, like all players, had his off days, even in his pomp. He just has more now than he did then.

And the difference now is that attention is more acutely focused on his mistakes because they appear to represent a general narrative: that this is a legend in sad decline, never to recapture former glories.

Stephen himself has spoken of the “chaos in my head” when he’s at the table. This stems from his own inability to accept that he isn’t the Hendry of old. He is perhaps expecting too much of himself. When, as Steve Davis did, he comes to terms with the fact that the golden age has gone, he may relax a little more and find some form.

To still be good enough to occupy tenth place in the rankings at the age of 40 proves how good he can still be.

For hour upon hour in his snooker room at home, he puts in the work. Just as in all those finals against Jimmy White, the desire to prove people wrong, to prove himself, still burns deep.

He no longer dominates the game but, rest assured, Hendry will forever, in the words of Dylan Thomas, rage against the dying of the light.


Anonymous said...

quite simply far and away the best ever in the modern era.

you can only judge on records and hendry holds the important ones.

even ronnie o'sullivan when talking about judd last week said he was really talented but that wont guarantee him to win the worlds etc

as i was saying, hendry, the best ever and a great person to boot. doesnt get caught doing a lot of bad things

Anonymous said...

Autumn is more like it for the moment... ;)

Anonymous said...

The greatest player. I'd love to see him win another big tournament.

Anonymous said...

He also conducts himself like a champion and is famous for being such a brilliant talent and not for anything else.

Anonymous said...

Simply an incredible sportsman. Like Shane Warne, Tiger Woods and Rodger Federer he has achieved things we didn't think were possible. Without a doubt the greatest snooker player there has ever been.
We will never see anything closer to perfection.

Anonymous said...

i agree with you Mignon :)

Anonymous said...

When he wins the Uk Masters and World Champs this season I think he will hang up his cue and retire at the top!

dzierzgul said...

Great post!
I'd love to see Hendry winning again. When he finds his form (like in Bahrain last year or during the match with Ding at the Crucible in the Spring) he's a sheer joy to watch. Davis had his late success with 1997 Masters, White has won Players Championship in 2004 - why not, say, Welsh Open 2010 for Stephen?

Anonymous said...

Just on another point Dave, is it true that Jimmy White has the wildcard for the Masters in January, or did I pick this up wrong?

Dave H said...

I certainly haven't heard that.

After tonight I don't think he'll get the wildcard for Horse of the Year Show...

Andrew said...

O'Sullivan won consecutive ranking events in 2008 (World Championship and Northern Ireland Trophy).

Anonymous said...

I think the horse buckled under Jimmy's weight, did you see his gut when he was washing lol..

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Dave
Stephen Hendry is always good for a subject or Thread, as there is so much “accomplishment” to recite plus the on going striving and absence of more.
Stephen isn’t looking just for another victory but some of the Love and Affection enjoyed by past champs Steve Davis, Jimmy White and Ronnie O. For all his successes Stephen lacks “Cuddles and Kisses” and it hurts.

The New kid on the block John Higgins is not just striding but galloping past Stephen in the popularity stakes. Steven often advertised the fact that he had no time for “Gracious Losers” and the Bums on Seats don’t like that kill or be killed attitude. Mr hey you

PS. Snooker is suffering because of the win at any cost has become a coaching method. The bums on seats want Entertainment in there snooker. DM

Anonymous said...

The 'New Kid on the Block' John Higgins. I don't think I really have to say any more.

Anonymous said...

Snooker The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear 3:45pm
It is only recently that John has been offered as a GREAT.
I was there when John got pipped on the post for his first victory over Jimmy White in 19-93.

The new kid under consideration will never be remembered in snooker for his Poise or Finesse but sadly for his "Sameness". Some people call it Consistancy.
Mr hey you

Anonymous said...

you dont half talk a load of rubbish mr hayoo

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear David
Off the thread, that was a fair article you scribed on Neil Foulds! How come Dave you never mentioned or recalled his nick name “Budgy”?
Neil’s love affair with the telephone became famous, almost worldwide. Surely you didn’t forget the expression Dave, or, did you get the hard word from Neil?

Talking of love affairs Dave has Clive and Phil kissed and made up, there must have been some friction or at least discord. Phil was the lad I invited to review and view my first video of my book “Snooker The Fine Art Method”.
I wonder now Dave if Clive was annoyed that I didn’t ask him instead of the help, or even if Clive allowed Phil the chance or choice?

It may sound “Corny” Dave but it would have changed the face of snooker, and especially the new teaching as opposed to the “Watch Me” and I’ll show you again method.
The Game was awash with tobacco money, and must have been the only public industry/company that never ever showed a profit margin, or was obliged to do so.
Clive “The voice of snooker was remarkably quiet. But still the dear chap managed to WIN a fair share through the courts.
Though the game is in bother Dave, no one considers retrieving thirty years back work and study to bring the game into the present.
Mr hey you.