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.


jamie brannon said...

It baffles me as to why Darren Morgan dropped off the tour so dramatically; he could have been only around 32 when he efectively retired from the top level.

Best of three is short, but they're probably worried that the standard would dip over a longer format.

Anonymous said...

Oh for Chrissakes, why have they stuck a shot clock in the Seniors? It's going to totally ruin the event. Fast snooker is not the appeal of a seniors event.

John McBride said...

I’m pleased to see this event on the calendar because as much as I enjoy playing the game, all be it not as much as I would like these days, it’ll be good to play in the SWSA & to also play in good company again.

As for the shot clock, well, personally speaking, it might do me a favour because when I was out hitting them last week, the amount of thinking time I spent down on a shot, I nearly ended up having a full blown conversation with myself at times. 

On a more serious note, I looked up to many, certainly respected them all, the names that you have mentioned Dave, especially Patsy Fagan, where I spent many an hour watching the man play in Ron Gross’ (RIP) Snooker Centre in Neasden, some 30 years ago. My right hand will be fully stretched out meeting his when I see him again after all these years.

And, for the first times in all the years that I have been playing Snooker, I find myself with a ‘bye’ in the first round. With the last 16 being played live on Sky & with 28 entries this time round, I’m hoping the exposure this comp gets will encourage many other players to enter this time next year for which I also personally find, another wonderful initiative from Barry Hearn & his team.

Janie Watkins said...

We're really looking forward to this event at SWSA on 10 October - Note that it is now over one day not two.

Tickets for the day are just £5 - ring 01452 223214 to book up.

Monique said...

Isn't Dean Reynolds entering also? Dean suffered a serious stroke in April 2009 and had to "relearn" a lot of things, including how to play snooker. It would be a wonderful achievement if he could give a good account of himself and a tribute to his courage as well as a great source of hope and inspiration for all those who suffer the same fate.

Janie Watkins said...

Hi Monique. Yes Dean Reynolds is among the entries, also Gary Wilkinson and David Roe.

David Caulfield said...

Best of 3s in the latter rounds is madness.

Alan Craig said...

Great to see further support for the Seniors, and I hope it eventually leads to a seniors tour!

However, like others, I think the frame format is too short, and the shot clock should be banned.

This is a great opportunity to promote the game and the players must be given the time to show their personalities to enhance the viewing experience.

Witz78 said...

Good to see this event returning in an expanded version to last year.

As for the shot clock, i know its not popular but i can see a few main reasons why they have opted for it.

I think they actually want to minimise the banter element as this gives off the impression of the event not being serious and more of an exhibition, so theyd rather give them 30 seconds which is still plenty of time to play the shot without needless delays for lame jokes and silly banter, which never happens during "normal" snooker matches.

likahokeith said...

This year World Seniors Championship is better than last year.

Last year's qualifying stage just attended by current pros, now it's more opened that the former pros can attend; also, the format is OK because last year was only best of 3 in qualifying round and Round 1.

jamie brannon said...

The BBC's decision to make BBC 2 daytime full of repeats is not going to be every day, all day , all year, so the snooker and other sport will still intervene when it's scheduled.

As for that idiot who you retweeted, he needs to realise the licence fee pays for far more than just BBC 2. The quality of channels like BBC 1 and 4 is unmatched by any other broadcaster, and let's not forget BBC 6 music, which is the most credible music station in existence.

Anonymous said...

The twit(terer) kind of has a point. BBC 1 is a joke, Jamie. ITV 1 is doing better than BBC 1 in terms of innovative drama. BBC 3 is pointless, and while BBC 4 is good, why not put all the good stuff on BBC 2 instead of some obscure digital channel? The BBC should ditch its extra digital channels now and focus all its resources on getting BBC 2 back up to scratch. It's actually becoming increasingly difficult to justify the licence fee as the BBC becomes increasingly mainstream.

jamie brannon said...

Apart from Central London (who are switched over in 2012) BBC 4 is available to everyone, hardly an obscure channel.

BBC 2 is a brilliant channel, it has a wide ranging choice of programmes and still stimulates intellectually, take Stephen Fry's new series.

The channel gives airtime to sports like snooker, bowls, gymnastics and swimming that receive basically no coverage off any other free to air broadcaster.

The extra digital channels like BBC 4, BBC Parliament and BBC 6 Music are what marks the BBC out as more than just a mainstream channel, even though there is nothing wrong with catering for that audience.

ITV 1 is the most mainstream and probably the least intellectually stimulating channel in existence. Yes, they have original drama, but it's usually far-fetched stuff like Midsomer Murders.

At the end of the day, I know it's unfashionable to defend and like the BBC these days, but I'm a staunch BBC supporter and will argue all night about the importance of this unique British broadcaster. I'm not joining in with the Daily Mail-led bashing of the BBC, they can fuck off.

As for snooker, my main worry is the cut to red button access, will this mean no freeview covergae when BBC 2 are not on air?

Be interesting to see The Masters draw, especially with O'Sullivan certain to have to face a big gun in the opening round. Also, I believe the composition of the field to be strongest in the history of the event.

After all, to have players like Stephen Lee, Ronnie O'Sullivan and Matthew Stevens just scrambling into the event underlines the strength in depth.

Anonymous said...

shot clocks
best of 3s

when is the fancy dress tournament?