No true snooker fan would take any pleasure from the current plight of Stephen Hendry.

He is the game's greatest ever player but the glory days seem a lifetime ago. His 5-3 defeat to Martin Gould in the Welsh Open tonight means his top 16 place is now under threat with two tournaments to go this season.

It's not nice to witness but this has happened to all of snooker's great names and it will happen again, to John Higgins, even to Ronnie O'Sullivan.

The question now is whether Hendry can stave off relegation from the elite group this season.

If he can't, will he carry on in the qualifiers?

My view is that he would, at least for a season.

But as Ken Doherty will testify, the Pontin's set up is alien territory to players who have spent most of their careers playing on television and a place where reputations don't count for anything.

Make no mistake: this is a career crossroads for the seven times world champion.

Most snooker watchers will hope he turns it round but that is certainly not guaranteed to happen.


Anonymous said...

I think he should retire unless he reaches QF or later of the world championship. I don't think he can change his attitude in the way Steve Davis did to enjoy competing for its own sake. Hendry will always suffer because he will always be a big name to beat. He should disappear for a year or two, get some practise commentating and come back as an analyst. As a lifelong fan, this season has just made me sad. I can only imagine how it makes Hendry feel.

SupremeSnooker said...

Hendry's decline has been gradual and started around a decade ago.
His contribution to the game has been enormous, and all of us should remember him for the player he was in the early to mid 90s.
Very few players produce anything like their best once they reach 35 and sadly, Hendry is no exception.
The reality is all the top 16 know they are more than capable of beating him on current form.
Hendry can't do anything about the fact he's now 40 years old and, although he may still produce moments of sheer brilliance, he will be forced to accept he will never produce them as often or consistently as he once did.
Whether or not he decides to continue should depend entirely on if he still enjoys playing.
Steve Davis clearly does, but Hendry must accept that the trips to Prestatyn will inevitably become more frequent in the decade ahead. If he finds this a bitter pill to swallow, he should retire and seek another role within the game.

Anonymous said...

hes still in the top 16 in the world out of millions who play this game

that to me says he is still fantastic at the game, though nowhere near as good as he once was.

he should not retire because he isnt as good as he once was, and he certainly shouldnt retire cos hes not top 16. if he was 18th in the world thats a high % of the world population he is better than

some people seem to think those outside the top 25 or so arent very good, when in fact they are the cream of worldwide snooker

Anonymous said...

Last night was not good TV, which became a massive turn-off for armchair fans.

I don't wish to come across as hard, but Michael Gould was - at best - poor.

The coverage was appauling, with the crowd looking almost ready to fall asleep. Snooker needs to take a look in the mirror.... without the rose tinted specs.

Hendry has been too good to end his career losing to journeymen (and thats being kind) like Gould.

Stephen. Go and enjoy the profits of your sucess, and get yourself out of this 'Blood & Snot Circus'.

TV snooker for me now has to include O'Sullivan to even stand half a chance of getting me to switch over to it.

Anonymous said...

The way people are talking its as if Gould is a complete novice who had no right being there - he's not, and credit should be given to him in the same way it was when Gilbert beat Williams.

Well done Martin.

Anonymous said...

Its Martin Gould by the way.
I thought the clearance he made to win the last frame was brilliant under pressure, especially as Hendry made a 60+ break in that frame.
If you cannot get anything by way of feel for what this meant to a young up and coming player then you should stick to watching players you know from the past.
Everything moves on........

Monique said...

People here tend to forget that Martin Gould already qualified for the UK in December 2008 and gave Shaun Murphy a hard time. He's also beaten Stephen Maguire and Matthew Stevens before and gave a serious scare to Ronnie O'Sullivan some 2 years ago. He's no sluch.
Having said that I still expected Hendry to win this match if only on experience. But well ...
Well done Martin.

Anonymous said...

No disrespect to the 3 above posts, but was that good TV ?

This sports main revenue stream is its TV contracts, and if I were a TV executive I would have serious concerns.

In saying that, the eurosport coverage is awful. Until I could stand no more, I was sick of listening to the tripe from the anchor commentator only for Joe Johnson to have to put him right.

The BBC coverage is slightly better, but its what they are covering, and thats were one of the main problems lie. Its so tired now that its become pure tedium.

Total re-think required here, but - and I don't want to sound as though i'm having a constant go at the guy - it won't come with the quality on view last night.

As with televised poker, unless we are talking of a major game, live coverage is not viable for the game.

Anonymous said...

He's a legend but I don't feel sorry for him one bit when he loses. I've seen him dish out so many crushing victories it's almost perversly gratifying seeing him lose to players he shouldn't get close to losing to.

Anonymous said...

...and I am a true snooker fan (referring to the opening line of the blog)

Anonymous said...

This is a strange thread. Hendry had a bad day at the office and I thought Gould held himself together exceptionally well and fully deserved the victory.

There is a lot of nonsense spoken about the demise of the game as a whole. My view is that snooker is, and always will be predominantly a TV sport. With the exception of some matches at Wembley and the World Championship it is clearly not attracting the crowds to venues that it should.

The rethink should involve limiting the sizes of venues and concentrating more effort on quality TV coverage, insightful commentary, features that actually contrinute something to the coverage (not handwriting experts and the like) and bringing out the character of the players and referee more.

Anyway, back to the thread - Hendry can still compete at the top level as he proved at the Crucible less than a year ago.

Anonymous said...

Why do people keep saying that snooker shouldn't be on TV? If you don't like it, then don't watch it.
I am an old age pensioner, and watching snooker on the television is one of the few pleasures that I have left. Why do you want to deprive me of it?

Matt@PSB said...

I think that Hendry will just about hang on to a top 16 spot for next season but to last any longer will require a massive turnaround. Last night was a really low point but ultimately a continuation of the form we have seen from him all season barring Bahrain.

As I posted on TSF last night:

It's sad, when he's losing to players like Stevens, Robertson, Lee etc it's not so bad as you know how good they are, but he's always just about managed to beat the 'lower' players who you would expect him to beat, even during the last few years. But tonight he didn't and he just cannot afford to lose those matches if he wants to be in the top 16, let alone challenge for honours.

I keep thinking to myself that he just needs a few good wins against top quality opponents to get some confidence back and start to turn things around, but then I just don't see where those wins are going to come from.

I do wonder how much his performance in the Bahrain semi-final to Stevens hurt him you know. For the first three matches of the tournament he was brilliant and genuinely looked like his old self, then as soon as the semi started it was gone, he was absolutely empty again and since then he's not won a match outside the Championship League.

I noticed earlier that against Stevens it was a best of 11, went 4-4 then lost 6-4, against Lee best of 17, went 7-7, lost 9-7, against Robertson best of 11, went 4-4 and lost 6-4, then today best of nine, lost 5-3 from 2-2.

He played worse than his opponent in each of those matches but his fighting qualities kept him in it until the point when one of them needed to produce something that little bit better to win the match and Hendry couldn't deliver.

Maybe that stage of the match is when he needs that missing bit of confidence the most.

Anonymous said...

one of your better posts matt

very well put

Anonymous said...

It it heartbreaking to watch him play at the moment.He has now got to the stage where he can lose to anyboddy.I don't want him to go to Prestatyn.He needs to insure that he stays in the top 16 this year and then pull himself together for one last crack at it next season.I feel desperately sorry for him because he is finding something that once came so naturally and easy to him so difficult.I suppose it shows that it doesn't matter how great you are time will catch up with you in the end.I never thoght I would see him struggling for confidence.I thought the world championship last season was the beginning of a revival but now it looks like it was his last big performance.This season has been a nightmare.I fear the greatest snooker player who has ever lived has reached the end of the road.He has been my favourite player for as long as I can remember and I am going to miss him massively.
Thanks for the memories Stephen.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad he's losing, it's about time. It's not in the least bit sad, it's life.

jamie said...

Im all for the freedom of speech but a lot of the comments on here are infantile and no considered analysis, I think Dave should put his comment moderation back on.

SupremeSnooker.com said...

Agreed Jamie, some people are very brave from behind their computer screens, using "anonymous" as their usernames. I never type anything about anyone I wouldn't be prepared to say to their faces.
Regarding the TV coverage- my support for Clive Everton is well known and I didn't agree with BBC Wales' decision to drop him.
I have worked with presenter Oliver Hides in the past and he's a thoroughly decent bloke and very professional.
As for the rest of the coverage, I don't "hate" anyone but I think the BBC would benefit higely from bringing Clive back.
I can't watch Eurosport's coverage at home because I no longer subscribe (had to economise a bit recently), but whenever I've seen it at other people's houses I've always enjoyed Dave's commentaries.

John F said...

Why are some people so harsh on MARTIN Gould? You can argue at times that his standard was not top-class, but when you consider that this was his third ranking venue in his entire career, playing the toughest opponent he's ever faced, in a match that could potentially (with a good Worlds run) see him climb into the top 48 - you don't think that NERVES had a tiny part to play, by any chance?

Even to qualify for this tournament, he had to beat John Parrott and Nigel Bond, two players who I wouldn't disrespect with the tag of "journeyman".

In the UK's, he had to beat Tom Ford and Dominic Dale to qualify - that's Tom Ford who made a 147 in the Grand Prix, and Dominic "Shanghai Master" Dale, and he was in with a real shot of beating Shaun Murphy, who is certainly no journeyman.

Also, in Gould's first season on tour, he amassed enough points to land inside the top 64, instead of having to rely on the 1-year list.

When "Anonymous" talking about Michael Gould, and how he's so boring, manages to get on to the pro circuit himself, could he please let us know?

SupremeSnooker.com said...

Terry's losing his marbles on commentary this afternoon! He just referred to the Welsh Open as being at "Sophia Gardens" in Cardiff five years ago.
The Welsh Open had NEVER been played at Sophia Gardens that I can remember- five years ago it was held at the Cardiff International Arena.
The only snooker event I know of that was ever held at Sophia Gardens was the old "Sports Arena" tournament which was made for HTV Wales around the late 70s/early 80s, which Terry would probably have played in.
I know Janie Watkins reads this, maybe she can put him right ha ha!
Not bad coming from a 25-year-old eh?

SupremeSnooker.com said...

MY MISTAKE- of course it was played at Sophia Gardens- that was one of the few years I missed.......I remember now, yep Ronnie won it.
Now, one for the anoraks, the old Sports Arena programme- did the snooker tournament take place in the same venue or at the old Pontcanna Studios up the road? It was certainly presented by Tony Lewis and the late Hugh Johns, and I believe it was sponsored by the Echo. I believe Terry had a lot of success in it.

Anonymous said...

do you only open your mouth to change footing?


SupremeSnooker.com said...

No not at all......far better to correct yourself when you make mistakes.....I don't like people who leave nasty comments under "anonymous" though!

Anonymous said...

I understand your aggression toward my post being anonymous. But since I am in TV production, and someone who was involved with the broadcast of snooker not so long ago, I have to stay anonymous.

The simple fact is that the game last evening WAS poor, and the format IS tired.

The players have to work hard, many practice for endless hours every day, but last night it was not good TV.

Let me run this by you.
Start your "afternoon" session at 10.30am, and your "evening" session at 3.30pm.
Then broadcast extended highlights of the first session from say 2pm until 5pm, and start broadcasting the second session at 6-6.30pm onwards which could include going "LIVE" toward the end.
Keep the spectators who go the venue as close to the front as possible (someone else has mentioned it before about cordoning off certain rows), and take the best from the matches.

I am trying to be constructive and hope if people look hard enough, they may see there are options for forward-thinking individuals.

I will continue to read this blog and may comment again, but please understand, I cannot identify myself.
I know I could provide a username and disguise my ip address, but then what would be the point as i'm still "anonymous".

SupremeSnooker.com said...

I don't mind people giving reasons such as yours for remaining anonymous, but I cannot stomach people saying unpleasant things about certain people from behind a computer screen without being willing to identify themselves, that's my only gripe.

I, too, work in the media and have worked with several people involved in the production of this week's Welsh Open.

I agree there needs to be a radical overhaul of the way the game is covered, but this is not the fault of broadcasters.

However, I'm afraid I don't agree with many of your solutions.

The emphasis has moved towards live coverage for much of the last decade. The old-style BBC afternoon programmes used to show much of its coverage on a delay, but this happens far less frequently now. More often than not, they want to go live as soon as the programme starts.

Regarding changing the start time of sessions: Viewers, not only in Britain but also on the continent, who wish to see live snooker in the evening could no longer do so, with the action being all over during prime-time hours.

You also couldn't guarantee a session would be coming to its conclusion by 6:30-7pm, so what would happen if, say, it was likely to over-run by more than a few minutes?

In an age where half-empty arenas are sadly all too common, making the action take place when many people are still in work wouldn't help matters.

I do, however, agree with your idea of making the crowd fill up the first few rows. The MC, John McDonald, used to make us do this when the World Pool Championship was held in Cardiff in front of just a few dozen people, and it made the atmosphere look much better on TV. Half-empty arenas give snooker a drab feel.

The fact remins that in snooker, you do sometimes get scrappy frames that don't exactly leave you sitting on the edge of your seat, but that's part of the game. The TV audience figures are holding up well considering the various problems and challenges the game now faces, and live coverage during the hours people aren't in work plays an important part in that.

How to freshen up the way the game looks on TV? I'd start by doing whatever it takes to get the arenas full at all times. This would mean putting an advert in the local paper every day in the week leading up to the start of the tournament, and getting involved with local snooker clubs for ticket sales.

To add a bit of glamour and fun to proceedings, I'd introduce walk-ons to music and introduce some coloured lighting and a dry ice machine for this.

I'd also get to the core reason why there are so many tournaments without sponsors. The fact remains that TV audience figures are still good, and they would be given a great opportunity to advertise their product. I notice Barry Hearn never seems to have any problems finding sponsors for Matchroom-promoted events in snooker and other sports, so what excuse does World Snooker have?

That's as good a place as any to start.

Ruthie said...

I agree with anonymous who works in TV production. It makes sense to have more deferred coverage to cut out some of the hopeless playing on for snookers and things like re-racks. I'm not for cutting out safety play just because it's not breakbuilding, but where it has no material impact on the flow of a frame it can be dead weight for broadcasters who then miss results except for viewers on the "red button". In snooker's prime there was considerably less live coverage than there is now. I remember tuning in a very dodgy radio from Republic of Ireland to hear Clive's reports on what was then Radio 5 to find out the latest from tournaments before watching the coverage later!

Anonymous said...


my comment was made tongue in cheek with a wink "smile" (code) at the end. very few on the internet would confuse that with a real dig.

if a user put their name down as David Smith, is that ok to be rude as theyve told you who they are?

the answer to that is obviously no.

some folk just read things into posts too much and dont know what way they are intended and would be better to ask first if in any doubt rather than storm in and have a go at someone who wasnt having a go initially

SupremeSnooker.com said...

Oh I'm big and ugly enough to take it. You're not the intended recipient of my dig- it's the people who have made unconstructive and rude comments about Hendry I have a problem with.
I just think that people who want to say stuff like that about the game's greatest ever player should have the courage of their convictions and put a name to their comments, rather than hide behind a computer screen.

Anonymous said...

i still dont see the point of having a name unless you have a blog to visit or a website to "promote".

and i am sure it wasnt me as i never slag off hendry. i know him well enough off the table and a big enough fan of his not to slag him off, even when hes poor

constructive is the key

Matt@PSB said...

I prefer people to use a name myself because you know who you are talking to then. Harder to get into a conversation with an anonymous if you aren't sure who you are talking to.

Anonymous said...

i dont come here to converse with individuals

i come here to read daves points, other peoples reactions to them and to sometime post a point of two myself. im happy not to leave a name and dont see how it "offends" someone (as long as i am not rude)

id imagine dave removes offensive stuff

anyway, thats my two pence worth

Anonymous said...

A pity most people cannot seem to comment on subject- bring back the censor please Dave-
Well done Martin Gould- nice win- Stephen is playing ok - he will be back in the winners enclosure soon. He was written off in Autumn 1998 and came back with a world title. John H

Claus Christensen said...

With Hendry every shot is edge-of-the-seat stuff - for all the wrong reasons. He was almost back to being golden boy early in Bahrain so maybe, just maybe, he can find that vein again and gain some consistency in the process. Anything less is heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

id be against the "censor" or "delay" for the simple fact that 4 posts are waiting to go through and you post, then the 4 appear and your reply to someone before the 4 is posted, which makes the pages pretty much unreadable unless every person who wants to comment on something someone says copies and pastes it in case the above happens