The BBC finally killed off Last of the Summer Wine, presumably because there are only so many times old men can rattle down a hillside in a tin bath before people realise it wasn’t funny to start with.
World Snooker, though, are supporting the game’s old – or older – guard by staging the World Seniors Championship, now for over 45s as opposed to over 40s as of last year.
Seeded through to the televised phase are several legends of the sport – Steve Davis, Dennis Taylor, Cliff Thorburn, John Parrott and the defending champion, Jimmy White, among them.
And there’s an intriguing selection of old faces taking part in the qualifying competition at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester later this month.
Mike Hallett, still playing in PTCs, is there, as is David ‘silver fox’ Taylor, former top 16 members David Roe and Gary Wilkinson and several Welsh players.
Of these, I am pleased to see Doug Mountjoy back in action because he authored one of snooker’s greatest fairytales when he bounced back from a lengthy spell in the doldrums to win the UK Championship in 1988 at the age of 46.
He outplayed Stephen Hendry in that final. At one stage he made three successive centuries, which in those days was a rare feat.
Doug led something like 15-7 before Hendry threw everything at him but Mountjoy held on to win 16-12.
It was an emotional moment and he then remarkably went and won the next ranking tournament as well, the Mercantile Classic.
Mountjoy’s resurgence continued when he reached the 1991 Dubai Classic final but his career was effectively ended by ill health. Cancer forced him to have a lung removed.
He has been practising recently with Mark Williams. It would be nice to see him qualify for the TV stage.
In that Mercantile final Mountjoy beat Wayne Jones, who has also entered the Seniors.
It was a poor match between them back in 1989 but one of the reasons for this was because of their closeness. Mountjoy was something of a mentor to Jones and they found it hard to play each other, particularly in such an important occasion as a major final.
Tony Chappel, another familiar Welsh name from the late 1980s/early 90s, has also entered, as has Steve Newbury, who like Chappel reached a ranking event semi-final two decades ago.
I once saw Newbury play Terry Griffiths. I’m not saying it was a bad match but the referee spent the entire mid session interval sat in the arena with his head in his hands, although I don’t claim this is representative of his career.
Darren Morgan is good enough to win the whole thing. He is a former Irish Masters champion and tough as old boots in his day. Hopefully no boxers will be in the audience to put him off.
Patsy Fagan was the first winner of the UK Championship in 1977 before his career was ended partly by a horrible case of the ‘yips’ when using the rest.
Patsy disappeared from the scene for a while but is now back in his role as president of the Snooker Players Association and as a coach.
There’s also former slimmer of the year Les Dodd and various lesser known names hoping to get through to a spot on TV.
I can’t say I entirely approve of the seniors format – best of threes is short for a ‘World Championship’ and a 30 second shot clock is a bit of a joke, not least because one of the attractions of the tournament is the banter, which will be limited if players are on the clock – but I am pleased to see these guys being given the chance to remind everyone that the sport of snooker is not just for the young.
They all did their shift at the coalface of the game and I hope they enjoy their return to the limelight, however fleeting it may be.