5.4.13

HOW TO WRITE A SNOOKER KNOCKING PIECE

One of the traditions of the World Championship is that any journalist with a spare half hour suddenly becomes an expert in snooker.

Having ignored the sport for the whole year, they emerge ready to spout forth for a grateful audience.

Snooker knocking pieces are nothing new. They were being written in the ‘golden age’ of the 1980s – ironically, as this is the era most contemporary anti-snooker bores hark back to.

We’re all busy people, so I thought I would help any hacks out there wishing to stick the knife in with a how-to guide to running down snooker.

The first, and most important, thing is not to have any actual interest in the game, much less any knowledge of it. Don’t, whatever you do, undertake any research or speak to anyone who may drag you out of the fetid swamp of ignorance in which you reside for the rest of the year.

Start with a withering putdown: something about pasty-faced young men lining up to pot balls all day long.

Then state that you don’t know who any of them are. Make it clear that this isn’t your fault. You can’t be expected to know something about the subject you’re writing on. No, it is the fault of the players because they are all the same: all these players you’ve never bothered to interview or study.

Then contrast the modern players with those of years gone by. This would be a good moment to invoke Bill Werbeniuk, Eddie Charlton and Alex Higgins.

These, you must make clear, were proper ‘characters’, although it’s important you don’t define what you mean by ‘character’ and you certainly mustn’t apply it to someone who, in the last five years, has reached two world finals despite suffering from a debilitating medical condition, a display of ‘character’ by most people’s definition.

But what other people think doesn’t matter: it’s all about you. Everyone wants to know what you think, even though they’ve never heard of you.

There is a danger of you making snooker look like something that was worth watching back in the good old days, so while you can write in a faux fondly way about it, you must also make it clear you really think it’s all beneath you.

Making fun of the players’ physical appearances and suggesting none of it was really taken seriously is the way to do this. Throw in Ted Lowe’s infamous quote about watching in black and white – you know, the one with about six different versions – because it has to go somewhere and you can twist it to make it look as if no one should have been watching at all.

Ramble on here about late night finishes – all of which would have bored you rigid had you actually watched them – and smoky snooker halls, the romanticism of which would have worn off within minutes had you ever been in one.

Mention Dennis Taylor’s hilarious glasses and then you can deliver the big one: that 18.5 million viewers no longer tune in to watch every match.

It’s vital here that you don’t put into context the audience for the 1985 final as a freak figure hardly repeated since by any sport outside football. You absolutely must not point out that this year’s potential viewing audience for the world final will top 100 million worldwide, not least because the rest of the world doesn’t count in your smugly parochial bubble of self-importance.

You will have to concede here that Ronnie O’Sullivan is one of the most fascinating sportsmen in Britain but you can use this to your advantage: point out that he is the only player with any personality. Again, don’t attempt to interview any of the others in case you discover that any of them are interesting.

Also, if writing about O’Sullivan, don’t attempt a fresh angle or any proper insight. Merely get out the cuttings file detailing his life and career and recycle that.

You still have space to fill so throw in a few statements which have no basis in fact: that the professional game will be dead within years, that prize money has plummeted, that it’s only pensioners who watch, that players can make 147s but are told not to.

You may also at this point wish to suggest that snooker isn’t really a sport. At no point state that people have different interests and therefore enjoy different sports. Do not praise the high skill level and ice-like temperament required to play top level professional snooker. Do not praise the dedication and sacrifices required to become world champion.

You’re nearly finished. Soon you can turn your ignorance to some other unsuspecting subject. But it’s important you finish with one final sneer.

I would suggest something along the lines of ‘Player X may well win the world title, but who will even notice?’

Congratulations, you are now a snooker expert and we look forward to reading your thoughts again next year.

29 comments:

ollie said...

Absolute genius. Well done Dave. There was just such a piece in the Telegraph the other day: http://tinyurl.com/ctzhykm

Anonymous said...

Great humour Mr Hendon, and I'll look forward to matching it to newspaper articles in the coming weeks!

Jim said...

Great article, very funny, so true.

Anonymous said...

Chapeau Dave - and anyone lamenting the decline of corporation-owned print media should look at this - it isn't just snooker where journalists write pieces in wilful ignorance of the subject matter...

Anonymous said...

It might also be topical to point out that Mick Philpott had a threesome on a snooker table, so there is a good chance that snooker turned him into a homicidal psychopath rather than welfare.

Janie Watkins said...

You've just graduated with a Post-Masters (Pre-World) Degree in Cynicism Mr Hendon.

Absolutely spot on.

with no apology whatsoever to the chattering classes, the Camden Chatterati or the Henley Hacks.

Andrew Lambley said...

Great stuff David, well said

Anonymous said...

Great piece! Sadly I suspect that because of WS slowness in dealing with it, there may be a lot of press coverage about Lee, claiming the whole game is corrupt etc.

Mignon said...

Brilliant! One of the very best pieces written after (and in the best tradition of) G.K. Chesterton's texts. Just b-r-i-l-l-i-a-n-t !

Anonymous said...

Bravo!

Anonymous said...

great blogging david

ss

Ray said...

Well said Dave. I have another name for these so called "sports journalists" - guttersnipes. They know very little about the sport and are just looking for gossip and sensationalism.

It relly makes me laugh when some of them say that snooker is not a sport. If they tried to play the game themselves they might change their ignorant and ill-founded comments.

Mind you, it would be a laborious task because it would take hours of specialised coaching to teach them how to chalk their tip!!!

kimball said...

Great Dave! Tail up!

adamtuck said...

Great article Dave. It's a Shame the only time Snooker gets any attention is when they are taking the P**s or something bad has happened. Maybe if Ronnie was paid 50k a week like footballers, went off with women all the time, racked up some driving offences and got in some late night brawls we would be front page news and deemed worthy by these ignorant journalists. Maybe if Willie Thorne went the Wayne Rooney route and got a hair transplant, the journalists would be all over it then. Pure ignorance, I watch every Snooker tournament every year, weather it be Qualifiers on Liveworldsnooker.TV, on Eurosport, ITV, BBC, Sky Sports, everything. So it really winds me up for some ignorant little journalist to come along and put down Snooker, when for the rest of the year all they've done is report on who's dating who, who's breaking up with who, weather X celebrity might be Gay or wears a wig. Unbelievable!

Anonymous said...

I would very much doubt WS will make an announcement regarding Lee before or during the WC. Given the length of time the enquiry has taken thus far would indicate perhaps that it is very serious. They won't want anything negative coming out that would take the gloss off their flagship event.

Anonymous said...

All publicity is good publicity no matter how ignorant the writer.

I feel sorry for these journalists, stuck in the city of Sheffield, having to make the most of a two week, all expenses paid hotel & bar pass away from their desk in London.

These are the sort of people we should be seeing in the new years honours lists - honoured for their prose - rather than the endless list of charity workers or olympic gold medalists who normally get the gongs.

:)

Anonymous said...

Snooker is I still believe the most watched sport on Eurosport - During a recent World Championships over 27 million watched the event in the UK, which is nearly half the UK population.

Is it the journalists fault who write these naff articles? I'd assume they are forced even if they don't agree to write stories with a devious slant to them. I can only think it's the editors/sports editors who allow their journalists to write like this and oddly ignore the outstanding viewing figures snooker creates. There's not many tabloids/broadsheets out there - can Worldsnooker not try and set up meetings with these editors who allow these articles and try and get it through to them how popular the game is and it's an injustice to the paper not to cover snooker properly. Failing that, get some first rate PR people in to spread the games popularity and eventually it should get through to the average reader that these drivel articles are written by burkes who really don't understand.

yanir kalaf said...

Haha David, Great stuff :)

The Blog said...

Snooker is better in black and white. The "sports journalists" are right about that.

:P

Toestubber said...

Fucking hell, Dave. I like the new acerbic you! Cracking writing, get the bastards telt!

Mat Wilson

Anonymous said...

Taking in to account how popular snooker is, yes it deserves much more coverage and more positive articles in the newspapers etc, but lets start hearing some solutions to it like 9.24...

Anonymous said...

Very amusing article Dave, keep up the good work.

Craig

JAMIE O'REILLY said...

Hi David, today, is , as I write this, Saturday, 6-4-2013. Happy 92nd birthday, for today, to, Jackie Rea. He was born, on, 6-4-2013.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie,
In my view, your article, in my view, contains, in my view, inaccuracies.
I, can not wait, for more, tomorrow which is, Monday

Anonymous said...

9:24pm is right.

Why don't World Snooker take the iniative and employ a world class PR agent.

Lazy journalists love good PR because it gives them core text without having to do much & reduces the scope for silly errors.

BTW the 27 million figure - what's your source for this as I am afraid I dont believe it. From memory it peaked at 4 million last year in UK, are you saying 23 million DIFFERENT people were shared across the other 16 days?

Anonymous said...

Jackie rea was born today Jamie? And you got the hurricanes birthday wrong too. Your slipping lad.

Anonymous said...

3.20pm - (9.24 here) The figure was from the 2011 championships: It was produced 2 days after on the Worldsnooker site...

Snooker Scores Massive Viewing Figures
04th May 2011
Trump
The Betfred.com World Snooker Championship achieved fantastic viewing figures both on the BBC and in China.
Related News

BBC
World Snooker Extends Broadcast Agreement With BBC

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bbc



The tournament was widely regarded as one of the best in recent memory, concluding in a pulsating final as John Higgins beat new star Judd Trump 18-15 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.


The peak viewing figure on BBC, which came just after 10pm, was 6.6 million, the best figure in the past five years.



Average audience for the final session was also well up: 3.9 million, over 50% higher than last year.



Over 27.1 million watched the event in the UK - that's nearly half the UK population.

John Michael White said...

Did that feel good writing it>......Because it felt chuffin' stupendous reading it

Tremendous sir!

Anonymous said...

Re 3:20pm - thanks for the info on the viewing figures