If you – like me – were a snooker fan in the 1980s then the sight of Steve Davis holding up a trophy is nothing new.

Such was his dominance in that golden decade that it was more newsworthy when he failed to win a tournament than when he went home with the spoils.

He was admired and respected but not really loved. He was too successful for many. Just too good.

As new champions emerged – Stephen Hendry in particular – Davis had to accept that the glory days were over. He fell down the rankings but such was his stubbornness, his raging against the dying of the light, that he has managed to retain his professional status at the age of 56.

Tonight, he won the World Seniors Championship and it is clear in the aftermath of this victory that he is no longer merely respected: he is loved.

Steve Davis turned professional in 1978 before there was a circuit. He bestrode the snooker world when it was the most popular TV sport in Britain and he held on long after most of his old rivals had departed the stage.

Why? Because nobody loves snooker as much as Steve. He has retained his boyish fascination for the game, for its intricacies and challenges.

The tournament itself was at times hard to watch. These old stagers are not the players they once were. There was much playing on for snookers – inevitable in a best of three format featuring players with immense all round knowledge – and the style of snooker played was alien to modern audiences.

However, Davis played superbly from 1-0 down to defending champion Nigel Bond in the final.

It is his first title of any description in 15 years and his first on British TV since, against the odds, he won the 1997 Masters.

Recently in a Sky Sports interview, Davis was asked to sum up his career. Characteristically, he put the sport first, saying how proud he was that snooker had played such an important part in the lives of so many and how it had created such golden memories.

Snooker has seen many champions, many entertainers and many wonderful talents but Steve Davis is, and will remain, a legend: a player for whom the basic wonder of every new frame and its attendant possibilities trumps the trappings of success and celebrity every time.

Long may he continue to play this great game. No sport could ask for a better ambassador.

1 comment:

Adam Bell said...

Great piece,and yes,Davis a fantastic ambassador for snooker. That he is still mixing it with (and beating) the young guns is testament to his skill,dedication,and love of snooker.I hope he reads this.Keep going Steve!