Among the results from the final qualifying round of the Maplin UK Championship that may have passed you by was this one: Mark Davis beat Nigel Bond 9-2.

This was Bond’s fifth successive defeat in five ranking events this season.

There are only three left and he now faces a fight to keep his top 32 place.

Nobody goes on forever. Nigel is now 43 and so in the autumn of his career.

But I always find it slightly sad when big names start to slide down the rankings.

I well remember Dennis Taylor’s last ever match. It was in the World Championship qualifiers in 2000.

He fought back gamely from 8-4 down to 8-8 with Sean Lanigan before losing 10-8.

Dennis knew it was his swansong and was devastated. Memories of the glory days, of THAT black against Steve Davis, had long since receded.

All he cared about was that he had lost and would not be playing again.

Nigel reached a career high of fifth in the rankings and made the Crucible final in 1995, losing 18-9 to Stephen Hendry.

What a lot of people may not know is that his son, Daniel, was born with a rare heart defect.

When young, he needed a great deal of hospital treatment in what was obviously a very worrying time for Nigel and his wife, Caron.

He was born in 1997, at around the time Nigel was enjoying his best spell as a professional. His mind could quite clearly not focus entirely on snooker and his form was inevitably affected, although I know this pales into insignificance compared to the health of his family. Nigel’s most loyal supporter on the circuit for two decades has been his own father, Graham.

In 1996, he won one of the most dramatic of all finals in beating John Higgins 9-8 to win the British Open in Plymouth having got a snooker in the decider. He knocked in a terrific long black for victory.

Nigel has appeared in five ranking tournament finals in total, including the 1990 Grand Prix in only his second season on the circuit.

He won the invitation Scottish Masters in 1997 and invite tournaments in China and Malta.

And he clinched what was surely the most dramatic first round victory the Crucible has ever seen when he beat Stephen Hendry 10-9 on a re-spotted black in 2006.

Bond was seven ahead when he potted the last black of the decider. Hendry unscrewed his cue but they both watched as the cue ball found a pocket.

Nigel returned to eventually knock it in.

After dropping out of the top 32 in 2003 he returned two years later but it is becoming increasingly difficult to stave off decline.

I hope he finds some form again. You will not find a single person on the circuit with a bad word to say about him.

It would be nice if Bond could find a quantum of solace from an otherwise disappointing season.


Anonymous said...

Nice post Dave. Thank you for this.
I will always have a soft spot for Nigel because he is the one who introduced me to snooker. It was February 2005, I was in Athens and for once the weather was dreadfull. I turned on the television - a very rare occurence - and there was snooker on Eurosports and Nigel was at the table. He got me hooked. It has been a passion since then. Thank you so much Nigel!

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with you Dave, I can't get used to see such a names like Doherty, Williams, Stevens and other in qualifying. I know them as a leaders of world snooker and it's rally sad to see them fall down. Therefore I'm really glad to see them move to the main stage of the UK and Steve Davis is through too. I'm looking forward to see them again in venue :-) Pity for Nigel, I know him from the Paul Hunter Classic as a very nice and polite man :-(

Anonymous said...

Nice post.

I remember Nigel when he came from behind to beat JH in the British Open Final.

It was a clearance to be proud of!

Anonymous said...

I wish I could have seen his comeback at the 1994 Crucible where he trailed Cliff Thorburn (who had a 139 clearance) 2-9 to win 10-9.

Anonymous said...

The two memories of the final against Higgins and Hendry in round 1 at Sheffield will live with me forever! Bond is a legend for those alone.

Anonymous said...

By the way, did you realise Dave that when Bond potted the black for the second time he completed the set of natural justice - every one of Hendrys opponents when lifting his 7 world titles gained a revenge victory over him at the Crucible.