Snooker’s own version of Dad’s Army gets its chance to shine this weekend with the return of the World Seniors Championship in Portsmouth.

The event features 16 players, five of whom – Steve Davis, Jimmy White, Nigel Bond, Dave Harold and Tony Drago – are still members of the professional tour.

They are joined by some bona fide legends – Stephen Hendry, Cliff Thorburn, Dennis Taylor, Joe Johnson, Doug Mountjoy and Tony Knowles – plus well known names of years gone by such as Darren Morgan, Alain Robidoux and Dene O’Kane.

Harold qualified alongside Phil Williams while Tony Chappel, runner-up to Bond last year, is hoping to be a threat again.

It’s wide open as all matches are best of three, a format too short for a World Championship but the reality is Sky Sports only want to broadcast it for two days.

Among the first round matches, Davis will play Taylor in a repeat of the 1985 Rothmans Grand Prix final, which Steve won 10-9. Apparently they also played another match that year but the details have receded into memory.

Hendry, at 44, is in fact a year too young to play in the event but gets in because of a rule in the small print which states entry is open to players who turn 45 during the season, a rule which was in no way inserted as a ruse to get the seven times Crucible king in the field.

He plays Joe Johnson, who 26 years ago beat him 13-12 in the World Championship quarter-finals when Hendry was just 18.

White, who won this title three years ago, meets Mountjoy, at 71 the oldest player in the tournament.

Fans of grinding will want to tune into Thorburn’s match with Williams, a methodical Welshman who, along with Cliff, will doubtless attempt to recreate the ‘glory days’ of snooker with a late night battle on Saturday.

It’ll be nice to see some of the guys who helped put snooker on the map getting another chance in the limelight. But this event is more novelty than anything serious, even though a top prize of £18,000 will focus a few minds.


JIMO96 said...

Looking forward to this, but I wish it could take steps to lose it's 'gimmickry' tag.

For example, best of 3's...even the world AMATEUR seniors championship is played over a longer format!

Entry criteria: there's too many entries now for there to be 14 direct qualifiers. Surely 8 qualifiers joining 8 seeds would be better? Or even a 24 man field with 8 qualifiers? It's strange that Dave Harold, Dean Reynolds and Mike Hallett, all top 16 players and multi ranking event finalists (or winners) are asked to qualify, yet Dene O'Kane (never in the top 16, 1 runner-up prize to his name) doesn't. I take it this is because he was an automatic invite as a semi finalist last season?

This could be a real annual highlight if Sky upped it's game and treated it with some respect. As it stands, it remains a gimmick event no better than Power Snooker, because Sky is holding back it's development.

kildare cueman said...

I think you have to see the seniors for what it is. Entertainment rather than sport. Seems to be all Sky are interested in at the moment. It might change. WS have their toe in the door, and you never know, a change in personnel, whatever, and there might be two or three rankers on sky in a couple of years.

Snookerbrain1968 said...

Well, the pockets may be wider than a Muppet's mouth but that's not what it's all about.
A very fitting tribute by Clive who was so wholesome in his praise for Doug Mountjoy for his achievements in the game and also latterly having battled ill health so bravely.
Reminded me of when Mountjoy himself was so generous in his praise for Hendry having just beaten him in the 1988 Tennents UK to become the oldest winner of a ranking tournament.
The game owes a great deal to these players who paved the way for so many to be able to make such a comfortable living.
Fantastic to hear Clive again. Authority on cue sports without equal.
(How many times has Mike Hallett called Cliff Thorburn 'Clive' ?!