Darren Morgan is a proud man with snooker running through his veins. His capture of the Wyldecrest World Seniors Championship in Peterborough tonight will mean a lot to him, not least because he beat Jimmy White in the semi-finals and Steve Davis in the final.

Morgan has not played on the professional circuit for a few years but still competes below the radar on the amateur scene, where he has had success in international seniors events.

He decided not to attempt any comebacks as a pro but proved he still has the appetite for competition by completing an impressive victory over Davis from 1-0 down.

Morgan was world amateur champion in 1987 and reached eighth in the world rankings.

He never won a ranking title, losing in two finals, but triumphed 9-8 on the black over Davis in the 1996 Irish Masters.

Darren won various events which were then discontinued: the Welsh Professional Championship, original One Frame Knockout and Pontin’s Professional Championship.

As owner of a snooker club, Morgan gets the chance to play regularly and although snooker has frustrated him at times, he will never lose his love for the game.

I enjoyed the tournament. It was nice to see the old stagers out there again and overall the event should be judged as a success.

The snooker wasn’t always of the highest quality but the players were competitive and there was a good mix of fun too.

There was also packed house for every session, and you can’t argue with that. There is clearly a market for seniors snooker.

The whole thing was slickly packaged by Sky Sports, as you would expect. It’s worth recording how pioneering their early coverage of snooker was in the 1990s, which in turn had an effect on the BBC, whose coverage in those days was a little staid by comparison.

But Sky’s understandable desire to make their events different has led to rules being introduced which nobody asked for.

The 30 second shot-clock added nothing to the tournament other than a stern rebuke from Cliff Thorburn and the ‘beeps’ putting off White at a crucial moment in the first frame of his semi-final against Morgan.

And there were farcical scenes in the other semi-final between Davis and John Parrott when Parrott was informed after two misses that a third would result in Davis being able to place the cue ball anywhere on the table during the first frame.

The two players were unaware of this rule. After a lengthy consultation with referee John Williams, who had the rules in his pocket, Davis declined to put the cue ball in a position where he could pot a red.

This was sporting of him but the incident underlined the dangers of messing around with a game which has more than proved its worth over the course of the last century.

There have been rules changes over the years – the miss rule an obvious example – but by and large the game of snooker is the same now as when Joe Davis won the first world title 84 years ago.

Snooker has had many problems and will doubtless still have them but one thing that has survived intact is the game itself.

It is the game that fascinates as the cast of characters changes over the years. And the game is bigger than any of them.

If you start messing around with it then you risk devaluing the very thing that drew everyone to snooker in the first place.

When you say this you get labelled a ‘traditionalist.’ Good, I take that as a compliment.

It is the traditionalists who stand up for snooker in the face of cheap, cosmetic attempts to dumb it down, which thrive despite there being no actual evidence that this is what people want.

I’m not against variant events. Just as other sports look for new audiences by providing a more ‘fast food’ version so can snooker.

So by all means have your Power Snookers and your Premier Leagues and your Shootouts.

But the championship game is the only true test and the only version which should be taken seriously. Once this version starts being diluted then, frankly, the sport will lose its credibility.

I recognise that World Snooker have to be alive to commercial pressures, particularly from television companies who effectively bankroll the circuit, but very much hope the established game of snooker as we know it, which has provided entertainment, drama, heartbreak and joy for so many, will outlive us all.


Kjetil HĂ„rtveit said...

Well said! It's the strong tradition that gives the game its charm. Hopefully the game won't get dumbed down or changed to the unrecognizable - which you put nicely yourself.

It's a tricky situation though because Barry has sprung new life into snooker but made some controversial changes as well. But in the end I agree with you; as long as the world championship is kept intact and hopefully the UK and the Masters as well (if hypotethically the UK's format is reverted back to the original), it's the most important thing.

Colin M said...

I agree with you 100% Dave. The game does not need tampering with.

The shot clock and buzzer was a pointless waste of time and probably cost Jimmy his semi.

The miss rule and play from hand was ridiculous. I suppose Sky were happy as it created controversy. But also the effect was to put an elderly and well respected referee under pressure on live TV. It says it all that John Williams had to have a copy of the rules about his person.

What's next I wonder? Three misses and you have to turn the cue around and play with the cue butt?! Now that would be a bunch of a$r$e...

Claus said...

Nicely written Dave. I agree. There was little point in the new rules which could have instead just been politely asking the players not to get lost in story telling.

Regarding Barry Hearn, he has done great things in a short period of time but he has also started cutting the branch he sits on. He told us he wouldn't mess with the classics - and then butchered the UK format. His credibility took a big hit there. And also not tweaking the PTC concept when obvious problems exist and reasonable solutions have been put forward is very disappointing. And now I don't trust him not to mess with the World Championship. That's like trusting him to look after my cat after he flushed my hamsters.

Aaaaanyway, congratulations Darren Morgan. Will he now be included in the Premier League or what was it that this title granted access to?

Betty Logan said...

I'd still trust him over Richard Gere to look after your hamster, Claus.

Anyway, I think what it does prove is that there is a market for nostalgia, rather than a senior tour per se. I'm sure the Welsh Open would be a sell-out if it was the only snooker tournament all year round. But it does raise a question itself: there is a lot of affection for this set of players, I wonder if there will be for the likes of Hendry, Higgins and Ronnie twenty years down the line? Maybe we will have to move on from seniors snooker to geriatric snooker? I'm glad that a non-tour player won it though, I think it defeats the purpose when you have the final being contested by a couple of tour players. It makes you wonder what happened to Darren Morgan though. He dropped off the tour at a relatively young age, and given his recent achievements looks like he could have been competitive on it over the last decade; it will be interesting to see how he fares in the Premier League next year, or indeed if he will accept the invitation to compete...

Anyway I'm pleased to see Davis kick the new miss rule into the grass. The players shot this down so they should stop trying to force it on them. Hopefully other players will follow suit in the Premier League, and play safe off ball-in hand rather than take advantage of a diabolical rule.

Anonymous said...

well said dave.

and well done darren

it takes a 'special' type of "fan" who wants snooker changed to the extremes sky go to and we all know who they are.

anyway, the tournament was very good and i enjoyed it.

i cant wait to see darren in the premier league next year. i think he will do better then jimmy has done this year.

Anonymous said...

Theres not a chance Baz will use the same format for next year. Selby, Bingham, Morgan? not a chance. Sky, and most viewers would run a mile.

Anonymous said...

Should the sponsorship money not go up now? I am sure Darren Morgan and Steve Davis are happy if they assume there was nothing else on this last weekend gone the £18k and £8k is ok and perhaps they will get a few exhibitions out of the tv exposure and/or in Morgan's case he might put his price up a wee bit. But how is it economical for tCliff Thorburn and Dene O'Kane to travel to it:- after tax and expenses they prob broke even? The sponsors are getting 2 days on TV albeit a minor station for £50k all in. Not sure who pays the behind the scenes costs- venue, officials etc

Anonymous said...

Methinks a lot of you forget why Hearn was brought in... because "traditionalism" failed.

Dave H said...

The game didn't fail, the people running it did, particularly in not taking it to places where it is popular, such as Germany

No gimmicks there, just a proper tournament, much appreciated by capacity crowds

Anonymous said...

Really have no idea what the point of the "three miss leads to ball in hand" rule was supposed to be. The talking to players between frames was ridiculous as well. Is it not enough to have to listen to those pointless, tedious interviews with Andy Goldstein?

The shame is that if you take all that stuff away, you actually have the makings of a very good event.

There could be an argument for making the matches longer, although obviously not if that would affect Sky's willingness to show it.

The pockets did seem exceptionally generous, but I don't really have a problem with that. Some of these older guys might really struggle to produce a watchable standard if they were playing with pockets the same as regular events. It's like Seniors golf - the courses aren't on remotely the same level of difficulty as the main tours.

Overall I thought it was a really enjoyable couple of days, and who knows, it may even help get Sky interested in showing a proper tournament again.

But please get rid of the daft gimmicks. An event like this is built on nostalgia, and there was none of that gimmickry in the days when these guys were at their peak, popularising the game to the sort of people who a seniors event is aimed at.

kildare cueman said...

Seniors events could be a useful tool for reintroducing the game to places like Canada and South Africa where the game was once popular.

I realise that the cost of staging tournaments there might be prohibitive but there might be a case for WS to allow these countries free access to TV packages in return for peak or near peak time viewing. It might turn out to be a good investment.

Anonymous said...

Watching Thorburn -v- Mountjoy I was quite glad that the match was only being played over 3 frames. But for the players still capable of making big breaks a slightly longer format would probably be appropriate - maybe 3/5/9/11 from first round to final?

147 said...

The question that should be asked is how come two senior players were unaware of the rules.As far as the shot clock is concerned i think it was a good idea for this event,the incident surrounding the ball in hand rule looked a bit distasteful on tv and opened the door to the "traditional game argument" which i agree with,but its unjustified at the moment the game needs these events and all said and done are enjoyable.For me Davis and Parrott were at fault because i would expect these two too be fully aware of the rules as they are standard bearers for the game.

Ray said...

Well said Dave. It's about time somebody stood up and spoke out.
The genius that was Sir Neville Chamberlain would be turning in his grave if he could see the way his beautiful game is being bastardised. It demeans the professionals who play it. Shot clocks; time-outs; ball in hand .... and all the other pathetic irrelevancies make me sick to the stomach.
Please Barry can we have our game back? The unadulterated, wonderful game that is snooker.

Ashton Kutcher said...

Wasn't snooker the Power billiards of its day? Neville Chamberlain can hardly complain, considering he bastardised billiards by adding more balls and making them worth more points, just for the sake of entertainment. Why should a green ball be worth more than a yellow? It doesn't makes sense! There is no logic.

As for ball in hand, well if you don't want to gift your opponent then don't miss. If someone has laid a good snooker on you, why should you get half a dozen attempts to hit the ball and possibly put your opponent back in a snooker? I mean, if you sit a bad exam it's not like you can go back in and resit the same exam again is it until you get the grade you want? This is why snooker will never take off in America, because it rewards failure. Barry Hearn and Sky should be commended for trying to abolish reward for failure from snooker.

Dave H said...

It's certainly true that snooker was developed from other cue sports but the game in its current form has stood the test of time and is of proven popularity as it is

All these changes are just answers to questions nobody asked

Anonymous said...

This is why snooker will never take off in America, because it rewards failure

Spot on. It rewards failure. It rewards the plodder and the safety player more than the flair attacker.

It rewards fluke pots.

It allows a player to make a mistake and, as you say, go back and just do it better next time.

It basically has way too much luck involved and is aimed more at defence rather than what it should be aimed at more... attack.

It does not allow a choice of formats.

Unfortunately getting this through to the likes of Dave Hendon, is impossible.

Over here, people think you are crazy for suggesting such improvements and they believe the rules are set in stone.

Anonymous said...

Dear lord... the question WAS ASKED. We had to have a vote for new leadership because the sport was in financial meltdown. No sponsors. Six ranking events a year!

Do you even realise how absurd your argument is? Or realise that times have changed?

What you mean is YOU don't like the changes. But it is your train of thought that got us needing these changes in the first place.

Barry Hearn was voted in for a reason. It wasn't to listen to traditionalists with their heads STILL in the sand.

Colin M said...

If anything, they should have reverted to the rules that were in effect in the 80s..ie. any attempt to get out of a snooker where the white stayed on the table was a valid shot... :-)

As someone pointed out, it's the nostalgia that people come for and the chance to see a glimpse of the old boys' bygone standards. I actually watched Dene O'Kane play once live in the 80s and his standard was pretty much what we saw this weekend. Good effort!

If I may make some suggestions for improvement:

1. Change the venue back to something smaller and cosier

2. No £50 VIP lounge, the players should mingle with the fans and practice on a table where the fans can watch (this would be a unique aspect of the tournament).

3. Semi finals should be the best of 5 and the final the best of 7 frames

Anonymous said...

Parrott knew the rule. The amateur lad he was playin in the last 8 was warned from a snookered position and as a direct result played a swerve leaving Parrot an easy pot.

Davis was out of order, The rules are the rules and he cant go changing them mid frame because he didnt like them.

Dave H said...

People (anonymous of course) are conflating two different issues: the way the game is run and the game itself.

There is nothing wrong with the game. There has been plenty wrong with the way the game was run.

I called for changes in the administration of snooker for years (and Snooker Scene helped make it happen) and we have them and the game is being run much better. But none of that has anything to do with changing the game.

The German Masters didn't change the game. The Australian Open didn't. They played proper snooker and were both popular with audiences.

As I say, I have no problem with the Shootout - which was a success - but the day they start introducing its rules into established events is the day snooker loses its credibility.

Anonymous said...

someone clear this up please:

after 3 misses does the ref pick up the white and its play from anywhere?

does the player have a choice to put his opponent in for a 4th attempt?

in a game, if the player keeps missing one red and you get ball in hand, the red may not be potable and getting another snooker may be more difficult

so in that case id want it back 10 times


Anonymous said...

424, or should i say shiefer, you forgot to leave your name.

we wont take your ludicrous points on board if you keep posting like that, even if you leave your name out.


wild said...

The game didn't fail, the people running it did, particularly in not taking it to places where it is popular, such as Germany

No gimmicks there, just a proper tournament, much appreciated by capacity crowds

yes theres this myth flying about as to why snooker found itself wanting barry hearn to come in.

the administration of snooker got complacement picking up their pay check each month without the drive to take it forward.

gimmicks gets boring hence a change to PL Rules this season and 6 reds and 10 reds disapering.

snookers popularity has always been the simplicity of the game and comfterble viewing.