The World Seniors Championship has been revived after 19 years thanks largely to the efforts of Joe Johnson.
This unassuming Yorkshireman’s life changed forever on May Day bank holiday in 1986 when he completed a fairytale run in the World Championship by beating Steve Davis 18-12 to win the title.
He had turned professional after reaching the 1978 world amateur final and being inspired by Terry Griffiths, who won the 1979 world professional title at his first attempt.
It ushered in a new era, a new feeling that the younger players could sweep aside the old guard.
Davis was at the forefront of this and though Johnson ticked along nicely on the pro circuit, he had done nothing to suggest he could seriously challenge at the Crucible.
Indeed, trailing Griffiths 12-9 in the quarter-finals it looked like his championship was over but Johnson put together one of the best four frame spells seen in Sheffield, including two centuries, to win 13-12.
He swept past Tony Knowles and was through to a two-day final against Davis, the undisputed top dog of the 1980s.
The way Johnson saw it, he could just go out and enjoy himself. He was guaranteed £40,000 – more money than he had ever seen – and was on home turf. All the pressure was on Davis, whose aura of invincibility had cracked the previous year against Dennis Taylor.
Johnson’s relaxed demeanour carried him into a 13-11 lead going into the final session and he never wavered in crossing the winning line.
An audience of around 16m watched him do it. There was no better time to be world champion.
Winning the title transformed his life in many welcome ways: his earnings rocketed, he was invited to all manner of TV shows, parties and personal appearances and, most important to him, he had his name inscribed on the most important trophy in snooker.
But there were downsides too: newspapers rifling through his business, increased expectation and the sudden reality of living life in the spotlight.
Johnson did little of note in his season as champion until the 1987 World Championship, when he came close to completing a remarkable double triumph.
He lost 18-14 to Davis but this is still the closest any first time champion has come to defending the title.
Johnson won the 1987 Scottish Masters but he had won the world title at 33, an advanced age for a professional, and he began to slide down the rankings after suffering from ill health, eventually retiring from the circuit in 2004.
He won Seniors Pot Black in 1997 and enjoyed the experience so much that he was determined to stage a World Seniors Championship, the first since 1991.
The dream becomes a reality in Bradford this weekend when he is joined by his fellow former world champions Davis, Taylor, Cliff Thorburn, John Parrott, Ken Doherty and Peter Ebdon, as well as Jimmy White and qualifier Nigel Bond.
The tournament, sponsored by Wyldecrest Park Homes, runs from Friday evening to Sunday at Cedar Court Hotel.
I know Joe well and I know how much he loves snooker. He coaches regularly in Bradford and loves watching the game, loves still being part of it.
He knew a life before snooker, when he worked for the gas board – long hours for little pay.
It meant he had a sense of perspective about the sport and his gratitude for the life it has given him remains to this day.
Snooker’s elder statesmen deserve respect for the parts they’ve played in shaping the game’s fortunes.
I’m sure the weekend will be a lot of fun but these guys haven’t lost all of their competitive steel and, with £20,000 to the winner, may well provide a few glimpses of former glories.