We are seven!

I’m sure your many cards and presents have been lost in the postal system somewhere.

Back on June 12, 2006 I was a kind of snooker version of TJ Eckleburg, fixing the green baize world in my never-ending gaze.

Now, it’s hard to keep up with half of what’s going on. Tournaments rush by and there’s barely time to consider the various incidents, accidents, hints and allegations before another one begins.

Not that I’m complaining at all. Rather this than the wasteland of ’06.

But what it all means is that there’s probably less need for this blog than at any time in the last seven years. It began as something to do. There weren’t any others and there were long gaps between tournaments. There were long periods with nothing happening.

It was a chance to post observations, bits of news and try and keep interest in snooker going when there were no tournaments to watch, as there weren’t most weeks.

Things have turned around dramatically. The potential I and others always knew snooker had has started to be realised.

Barry Hearn and his team have worked wonders compared to what had gone before, although Hearn just sees it as making straightforward commercial decisions. Just today he announced that the Champion of Champions event will be screened live by ITV4 with £100,000 first prize.

I get the feeling some people, or rather some British people, would rather it was back how is used to be: a small, cosy world of mainly UK events instead of the increasingly global tour it has become.

Well, that’s a one-way ticket to oblivion. As with all things in modern life, the market will decide, and for snooker it’s decided that China is where it’s at in terms of money. Europe certainly has interest but lags behind when it comes to financial clout.

Snooker is by no means dead in the UK but it has certainly seen better days. Nevertheless, ticket sales last season were up and I will find it hard to shake the image of hundreds of hardy souls departing Alexandra Palace at close to one in the morning having stayed riveted to Mark Selby v Graeme Dott in the Masters semi-finals, traipsing home in the snow having stuck it out to the end.

These are true snooker fans: they love the game and its various complexities, its psychological shifts of momentum. And the game continues to fascinate many millions around the world.

At the top level, snooker is two things: a professional sport and television entertainment. There is an inevitable conflict between the two. We could play every tournament best of 19 from the start but TV wouldn’t cover it. Equally, we must be careful not to dumb the game down so much that its professional integrity is compromised.

Hearn is much more of a traditionalist than people give him credit for. Most of his changes have been cosmetic and most of them have been successful.

Aside from pure entertainment events such as the Shootout, the rules of snooker have not been changed. Shot-clocks and other gimmicks have not been introduced into major tournaments. The UK Championship format has been reduced at the behest of the BBC but the World Championship maintains its eccentric but magnificent long form schedule.

There are still clangers dropped, particularly in regards to scheduling of matches, but speaking as a journalist the difference with the governing body now compared to ’06 is that they will at least engage with you if you criticise them rather than trying to put you out of business.

Who knows what we’ll all be doing seven years from now? Will snooker still be a popular sport?

Why shouldn’t it be? The key thing to remember is that it survived all the mismanagement and lost opportunities and is now continuing to renew itself, exploring new markets. Look at the enthusiasm shown by the crowd in Bulgaria just last weekend.

I don’t have a crystal ball, and even if I did it wouldn’t help because crystal balls are nonsense, but snooker seems to be on a firm footing and opportunities for players abound.

Players don’t need to play in it all, viewers don’t have to watch it all and, for that matter, bloggers don’t have to comment on it all.

You don’t have to read all this either but, if you have, then thank you.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Dave and please keep going!

Monique said...

Happy birthday blog and thank you Dave :-)

John McBride said...

Dave, while I don't mean to blow smoke here, I take you will be continuing on with this blog? Yes, we do get your take on things in each monthly edition of Snooker Scene however by also getting your opinion on all things Snooker in the interim is always worth a read.
You, like me, love the game, so keep it coming please mate. Ta.

Mignon said...

My cards & presents have definitely NOT been lost in the postal system : I had no idea it was a big day. It is. Taking all for granted, the lazy way of (not) saying "need you & your work"/ "appreciate you & your work"/ "thank you for your work" and so on. Let's skip the laziness part (and its so sweet general temptation) and get to the must-be-said part : I for one need to see the you keep blogging because I value your opinion (even when I disagree with it ;) ).

The blog may have started as "something to do" (and I can guess there were a few days when you didn't quite feel like writing) but to very many people it has become something like a friend. It matters. So, thank you.

So do keep it going and do enjoy this seventh birthday! Many happy returns & best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Don't say there's no longer a need for your blog... I love reading it and check it nearly every day to get your updates. Please keep it up!

Ayrshirebhoy said...

Happy birthday. Great blog.

Corben said...

"...there's probably less need for this blog..." Are you killing ?

Mignon is right : it matters.
So, Dave, keep this blog alive, please. It's just essential.

A french snooker fan.

kimball said...

Great blog Dave and as they say,
"may you never get tired"!

Seven years on?? Well, no pros without grassroots and being around
the Eueopean Ch ship in Poland I can for sure say that there are, right now plenty of very promising players on the age span 16-18. Rhys Clarke is one for sure. Youngest contender,
Julian Boiko from Ukraine youngest
contender at the frail age of seven! Had to be seen to be believed. Great to see Robin Hull
in an impressive comeback, three
centuries in the final against Gareth Allen.A pity that international top amateur games goes completly under the radar in most problogs.

Anonymous said...

My first comment in 7 years to congratulate you on your birthday...
Keep up the good work, it's a great blog!

Anonymous said...

Be assured - we need your blog


Anonymous said...

So what will snooker look lie in another 7 years? Here's my off-the-cuff predictions...
- there will be two circuits, Europe & Far East, each with their own official "TV" partner
- there will be 3 Crown Jewel events each year, with players from both circuits, 2 in Far East and the World Championship in the UK
- The World Championships will be held at Alexander Palace, London
- John Virgo & Willie Thorne will still be commentating for the BBC, whose only event will be the World Championship
- Ladies will not yet have reached the top 64
- There will have been at least one, new, non British World Champion
- The kick problem will not have been solved, because players wont accept a new type of cloth
- This blog will still be going...

Roland said...

Happy birthday to the blog and long may it continue, it's the only blog I read religiously.

Ray said...

Happy "Blogday" Dave. I don't disagree with many of your views but come on!
The blog is always informative and entertaining and provides a good read. It's a great vehicle for putting our points of view out there and to ask our questions and you never fail to answer so I would say it does a great service to snooker. I look at it every day and appreciate all the hard work you put into it.
If you never get tired of writing it then we certainly won't tire of reading it - long may it continue. Thanks again.

Kenn Fong said...

Thank you so very much, Dave.

As a Yank who is snooker loopy, I always enjoy it when you teach me some of the history of the game. I am always grateful to read whatever you choose to right.

May you have as many more years to flourish as you so desire.

Anonymous said...

I guess you've got a lot more on your plate these days Dave, and the blog probably isn't that high on your priorities. I for one would be sorry to see the blog go fully. No-one would blame you if you cut back a bit though.

Anonymous said...

Great blog Dave, and you provide excellent commentary on EuroSport, keep up the excellent work

Anonymous said...

Still the most authoritative source for snooker news, the sport is in great shape compared to 7 years ago (30 professional tournaments including 12 ranking events) and you shouldn't underestimate the part that this blog has played in shaping and informing the agenda. Please keep writing!

Anonymous said...

Dave, 7 years ago where did you think the sport would be today? Did you foresee the Chinese expansion, the European markets opening up? Maybe you saw the BBC dropping the sport effectively ending the professional game? Barry hearn has his critics and deserves some of the criticism in my view, but the greatest compliment one can pay him was that in 2006 the state of the game today was unforseeable.

Anonymous said...

Have just re-read this blog At no point does Dave suggest he is giving up doing the blog so why all the paranoia?

also 10:04 how can you say the BBC "dropped the sport" when they now provide live coverage of every shot of both tables on the web - we didn't have that 7 years ago.

MinkyMietze said...

A good opportunity to say: Congrats and Thank You Dave for a good job
A german snooker fan

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for your (still) essential snooker blog. I'd be lost without it.

Anonymous said...

Please dont dispense with this blog Dave.
Without it I am nothing and snooker will die.

Anonymous said...

Original and best, thanks for all your hard work and pls don't stop anytime soon :)