Steve Davis in 2008 seems happy with his status as a snooker legend. Unlike Stephen Hendry, he does not enter tournaments believing he is among the likely winners. His love of competition is enough.

The Steve Davis of 1982 was a different animal entirely. He was yet to be the official no.1 in the world rankings – still worked out through an arcane countback of World Championships – but everyone knew he was the best player. He was world champion after all.

The first tournament of the year was the Lada Classic, a tournament broadcast by ITV who three years earlier had missed a moment of snooker history when their cameramen took a lunch break as John Spencer compiled what would have been the first televised 147.

As it transpired, Spencer’s break would not have counted as the pockets were not ratified but ITV learned their lesson. They recorded every ball thereafter.

Fast forward to January 11, 1982 and the Oldham Civic Centre, about as unlikely a venue for sporting history as you are ever likely to find. It was the quarter-finals and Spencer was in action against Davis.

Jet-lagged having only just arrived back from a round-the-world tour with manager Barry Hearn, Davis entered the interval level at 2-2.

Frame five and Spencer played a dreadful break-off shot, leaving Davis a red to the right middle. He potted it and coolly set about stamping his authority on the match.

No better way than taking blacks with every red.

The 15th red was missable from distance in any scenario, let alone the chance for a 147 but he slotted it home and had the colours on their spots.

In went the yellow, in went the green, in went the brown but he was high on the blue and watched anxiously as the cue ball came to rest just a few inches below the pink.

Using the rest, he knocked it in and finished on the black, potting it with tremendous poise to a rapturous reception.

This was a genuine moment to savour. It was history in the making and, given this, David Taylor’s excitable commentary at the end, shouting over the always languid John Pulman, was just about excusable.

There’s a fashion among arriviste snooker followers to believe that the game only reached a decent standard four or five years ago and that the top players of the 1980s or even the 1990s were somehow inferior.

It’s nonsense. Davis’s break is a perfect illustration of the talent and temperament of a player who could have lived with any other of any era.

Here's the break.


Anonymous said...

David Taylor’s or Dennis David Taylor?????

Dave H said...

It was David

Roy said...

Dave, what do you think of the shot on the brown. I was wondering if it was one of TV's first kicks -which took much of the pace out of the cue ball which left Steve so high on the blue.

Dave H said...

That's a good point, Roy, I think you may be right

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember the start of the next frame when Davis missed a red and Spencer shouted "Rubbish!"? That brought the house down too.

Mat Wilson