POST 1,000

I want to use this pointless landmark to stick up for snooker.

Is there any mainstream television sport that regularly takes such a battering?

Yet it continues to weather the storm and defy the merchants of doom.

Snooker the game is a bit like the blackbox recorder on an aeroplane: even when the rest of the aircraft is destroyed it’s still intact.

So what is the current state of snooker?

The answer is in two parts. Most people in the UK think only of snooker in the UK, where it has undeniably declined in popularity over the last 20 years.

But this is starting from an unbelievably high watermark. Snooker in the 1980s regularly drew television audiences of more than 10m, a very difficult figure to maintain.

These days it’s generally 2-3m. TV has changed and so all audiences have come down. Also, no honeymoon period will last forever. Snooker’s viewing figures in Britain are satisfactory but not extraordinary.

However, snooker clubs have shut down at an alarming rate, to a large extent because of the smoking ban. Snooker is no longer seen as being fashionable and fewer young people play it compared to the boom years.

But there’s a whole world out there. In China, there is a boom and it’s resulted in two fully funded world ranking events. In Europe, the TV coverage from Eurosport has created a huge market of new snooker fans, which for reasons unknown is not being exploited by the governing body.

In short: snooker in the UK is struggling a little; snooker around the world has never been so popular.

That won’t stop newspaper columnists sneering at the sport from afar. Some hate it because of its working class image. Some hate it because they don’t consider it a sport. None of them ever come to tournaments to see what it is like up close.

Many sportsmen have gone to the Crucible over the years to watch the World Championship and they are always in awe of the skill on show. Snooker gets the respect from other sports it lacks from the media in general.

I like Andy Murray and shall support him at Wimbledon. He is on the front cover of this week’s Radio Times. Indeed, he’s everywhere at the moment.

Yet his victory at Queens Club last week attracted a peak viewing audience of 2.6m. Last season’s Wembley Masters final peaked at 3.1m, but try telling newspaper sports editors that.

The space they give to snooker in British newspapers has declined to such a shockingly low level that it has disappeared beneath the radar.

You often hear that there are ‘no characters any more.’

What does this actually mean and why does it matter?

Sachin Tendulkar is a great batsman. How is he a ‘character’ and why does he need to be one?

Let’s take a name from the 80s – how was Tony Meo any more of a character than, say, Ali Carter, who has been successful despite suffering from Crohn’s Disease and is a qualified airline pilot?

When people talk about ‘characters’ what they actually mean are people they recognise and can relate to.

It is true that if you are a casual viewer you may be confused between today’s top players. This is because they all pretty much play the same way. They have all modelled their games on the way Stephen Hendry played in the early 1990s. There are differences between individual technique but almost all of today’s top players are ultra attacking and can be hard to tell apart.

This is why their individual personalities must be encouraged to come through. Threatening players with disciplinary action for speaking their mind works against the interests of the sport.

I’d like to think snooker has a golden future but it’s impossible to make such a prediction.

It remains a fascinating game. It has touched the heights of popularity with the viewing public that many other sports can only dream of. When have golf, tennis or cricket ever got 18m viewers?

It’s has been big before and it can be big again, maybe not in the UK but as a global sport.

That’s what everyone who reads this blog wants and that’s why we should all continue to stick up for snooker.


Monique said...

Amen. Snooker is a great product. Society however has changed and the choices offered for diversions are so many it is inevitable his audience has gone down. Come to it, audience of most sports have gone down because they have to be "shared" with more "competitors".
Therefore maybe the way it is promoted and its "image" need changes, not the sport itself. What changes is debatable. Letting players express themselves certainly is one thing that needs to be done. Off the table and at the table. The latter, as Mark Selby recently pointed out in his blog, can best be done in the more relaxed atmosphere of invitationals and exhibitions... back to the roots then?

Anonymous said...

Snooker working class? And here was me thinking that it had its origins in British Imperial India, played by army officers.

I don't see many working class men getting dressed up in full evening attire at 10am for a game down the club. To me the player's dress looks elitist.

Anonymous said...

Snooker's only a mainstream sport because the BBC choose to show so much of it. How the national broadcaster gives so much coverage to a minority sport is beyond me. If they just showed the world championships no-one outside of snooker would notice.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the 1000th post and well written - agree totally.

Anonymous said...

Comparing 3.1m on a Sunday night in January to 2.6m on a hot sunny Sunday afternoon in June smacks of desperation. You should concentrate on your own sports failings before comparing what many regard as snooker's second most prestigious title to one of the lowest ranked events on the ATP World Tour.

Dave H said...

Congratulations on spectacularly missing the point

Greg said...

Has anyone ever heard Andy Murray speak? Wow what a character that guy is...

Monique said...

are we missing the point? :(

Anonymous said...

To the poster at 9.01

Just why do you bother reading this blog exactly? It's for people who love the game and want it to thrive and grow.

If you don't like snooker then don't read the blog and go and play tennis.

Dave H said...

Not you, Monique

This post was to stand up for snooker. If people prefer tennis that's entirely their right but why come on here with it?

Anonymous said...

the best part was the reminder of how they 'all' try to mimic and play like the greatest and most succesful player of the modern era, Stephen Hendry.

thanks for all the posts Dave

Anonymous said...

there isn't anything wrong with the game

there is plenty wrong with those trying to run it

some hard a fast business decisions are needed for snooker - but how can you have honest decisions being made on behalf of the game when people making those decisions are also taking 20% from clients for doing nowtor on commissions for doing even less?

Anonymous said...

Characters are defined in how they come across. When Joe Johnson wore his colourful shoes in 86 he was defined a character. Doug Mountjoy used to wear his frilly shirts, he was a character, Alex Higgins used to refuse to wear a bow tie and then wear an open neck shirt in a dodgy colour. Character. Then there was Kirk Stevens who looked like an extra from Saturday Nite Fever, another great character. Tony Knowles, Terry Griffiths, Cliff Thorburn, Even Steve Davis wore the odd dodgy suit. I'm not a big fan of the game and never really was but I used to watch at intervals back in the day and all these names stand out. I don't think I could name too many of todays players and how much of a character they are and it is because they all dress the same and look alike. The BBC should let the players express themselves more and they would be more memorable.


Anonymous said...

Look at tennis
Mcenroe famous for his outbursts and unprdeictablility - Character
Connors - rivalry with Mac, relationship with female player? - Character
Borg - legend, retired at the top - Character
Cash (first to climb through the crowd) - Character
Becker - Character
Edberg - hmmmm but because he was te serious one - Character.

Compare those with the top 10 of today, who for me apart from Nadal and Federer, I dont see much in the way of character.

So, I echo Dave H - why does snooker get it in the neck? Give it a chance!

Anonymous said...

Ronaldo, Kevin Pietersen, Nadal. They are seen as personalities because of the way they approach the game.

Ronnie comes in to that category. But that's it in snooker.

The next 'character' is Mark Selby. And he's a character for dressing like a clown and being handed writs.

The next time you see Rooney, Flintoff or Murray dressed like a clown, tell me.

Snooker does have characters. But actually, that should be singular. And if he doesn't play ball, snooker has nothing.

Or are you going to tell me Shaun Murphy is dynamic?

Anonymous said...

the reason Snooker isnt seen fashianable in britain is down to newspapers and the media putting it down that many people that watch it wont admit to it especially kids because "Football" is the cool sport to watch etc.

its getting because of the media putdowns embarasing to admit to liking it but i guarantee in the secret of theire own homes the snooker is on and they enjoy it.

Matt said...

I disagree that there isn't much character in the top tennis of the ATP tennis rankings. I'd say that as well as the top two, Djokovic, Roddick, Simon and Tsonga all have it at least.

Back to snooker I'd also say that there are a number of players with 'character' but sadly they aren't allowed/given the opportunity to show it as much these days.

Anonymous said...

Newspapers don't carry snooker because of the crazy finishing times. That is a fact, isn't it David?

Anonymous said...

at 3.45

Ros is a clown

Anonymous said...

anon 3.49pm

they dont carry snooker because Football Chairmen got shares in The Media and snobery from editors.

Anonymous said...

"they dont carry snooker because Football Chairmen got shares in The Media and snobery from editors."

Believe it or not, there are people in the press and media who like snooker. But they are governed by production and print schedules.

They are not going to stop 1.5 million papers hitting the streets to find out that Joe Snail has bored Ali Slug to death to win the Isle of Wight Open 10-9.

And before you say anything, I know there isn't a tournament on the Isle of Wight - although that aplies to much of the world

Anonymous said...

finishing almost 1am didnt hinder anything in 1985.

youre viewpoint doesent hold up because most boxing is latenight fights and when the olympics is in Australia they manage to cover it without any hinderance despite it being on during the time newspapers hits the street.

its pure snobery regarding snooker pure and simple.

Chris said...


Firstly, well done on making 1,000 blog posts. This is the best snooker blog on the internet. Matt's Pro Snooker Blog is also up there with the best.

I totally agree with everything you say David. I know exactly what you mean about snooker taking a battering.

Is this what you mean by battering? http://blogs.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liquoriceallsports/2008/05/is-snooker-officially-rubbish.html

Snooker should get the respect it deserves. Of course, as you rightly said above, not everybody likes snooker - fair enough - but they shouldn't make judgements
about a sport when they don't know
exactly what it is like.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Anon @ 5.03 said;

"finishing almost 1am didnt hinder anything in 1985.

youre viewpoint doesent hold up because most boxing is latenight fights and when the olympics is in Australia they manage to cover it without any hinderance despite it being on during the time newspapers hits the street.

its pure snobery regarding snooker pure and simple."

Rose coloured glasses and a lack of basic knowledge on your part.

Newspapers print earlier than before. You have to get them on the streets to sell them - which wasn't a problem in 1985, although a great many papers carried nothing on that final.

As for the Olympics and boxing, go and find copies of those papers. I think you'll find they carry the previous days news or just feature stories.

Newspapers won't hold back for snooker. There isn't a paper in the country that sells on the back of snooker.

As David Hendon would tell you.

Anonymous said...

theres always tuesdays papers.

you just part of the snob culture.

it has nothing to do with how late it finishes.

Anonymous said...

8.30pm poster is right.

David is right to a point - golf has never had 18m viewers.

But how many people are willing to spend hundreds if not thousands of pounds to be a memeber of a snooker club.

I also don't recall anyone in snooker quite as big as Tiger Woods, or under contract to Nike.

Anonymous said...


The Great is in South Africa. I've got a picture to prove it!

Anonymous said...

Snooker is a Great vehicle for sponsors but its not happening and i belive the reason for that is the perseption of the sport from some in the media that puts sponsors off.

Anonymous said...

Are you a marketing or sponsorship expert when you say "Snooker is a Great vehicle for sponsors ".

The evidence says something else.

There are 20 sports which have better exposure and better and bigger stars than snooker. Which is why snooker has nothing. Dopey

Anonymous said...

get off this site and find something boring like Football or Rugby to coment about you sado.

Anonymous said...

anon 1.34

why are you on this site comenting about Snooker when you obviously couldnt give a dam about it ?

anon 2.19pm is spot on why bother comenting on a site if the sport has nothing that my friend is very sad and you should get a Life.

Anonymous said...

yes anon 1.34pm

snooker is fine. the money and the stars are rolling in. you should be on the golf course

Anonymous said...

anons 3.oopm

has anyone said that on here ?

i know i havent said such a thing.

snooker is far from fine but people dont look beiond the shambolic administration and realise despite the WSA incompitance snooker viewing figures is as high as any other sport and has more Terestrial covarage than any other and with Eurosport help the sport is stil growing despite the WSA.

it can become as succesfull again if only we get rid of the dead wood thats running the sport without any vision or drive.

Anonymous said...

how can snooker be fine when those in charge are so poor?

PS my friend, you should learn to spell

Anonymous said...

cant you read ..

who has said its fine ?

Anonymous said...

who said "Snooker is a Great vehicle for sponsors but its not happening and i belive the reason for that is the perseption of the sport from some in the media that puts sponsors off"

so it's the press and media who are at fault

makes up your combined minds please!

Anonymous said...

no its a combination of poor management over many years and the press who havent a clue what they talking about putting the boot in.

but the sport itself is stil growing world wide thats fact despite the poor running of the sport.

that shows how good snookers foundation is even though the plastering is cracking and the roof is leaking.

Anonymous said...

the press are not alone in not knowing what they are talking about if some of these posts are anything to go by

and snooker is not a sport, it's a game

Anonymous said...

"the press are not alone in not knowing what they are talking about if some of these posts are anything to go by"

thats very big of you owing up to knowing nothing.

Anonymous said...

funny you choose to have a pop at someone rather than dispute the line that snooker is not a sport, it's a game.

so it is just a game - which is probably why it gains such little press

Anonymous said...

its on BBC SPORT,Its On EuroSPORT,Its on Sky SPORT its on the SPORT Pages of websites or Newspapers.

do you get the common theme running through here ?

the reason it dont get the press covarage is so many sports and newspaper jernalist was jealous of the success snooker enjoyed in the past many enjoy putting the boot in now.

Anonymous said...

Another common theme. Sport is physically demanding. Real sport is included in the Olympics.

Snooker isn't.

Anonymous said...

does anyone remember when they said snooker was going in the Olympics?

Another broken dream.

Anonymous said...

syncranised swimming is Dancing in Water.

what next in the Olympics Strictly Come Dancing ?

if they dont want Snooker thats theire loss but id guarantee more people would be interested in it than most of the dross they got in it.

Anonymous said...

Thank God spelling isn't an Olympic sport

Anonymous said...

i think the ioc has snooker listed as a sport.

Anonymous said...

and ballroom dancing.

IOC or not, snooker is a minority sport

lol @ Thank God spelling isn't an Olympic sport

Anonymous said...

if the ioc recognise it as a sport, then it is a sport.

at least, it is when compared to an anonymous person on the internet just arguing its not.

Scott said...

There's something I've always wondered about snooker and the Olympics - hopefully someone here can clear things up.

As I understand it the IOC does indeed recognise snooker as a sport under the umbrella of billiard sports. This organisation is the World Confederation of Billiards Sports. Website here:


We can see on the organisational tree the IBSF is listed, but this body is responsible for just the amateur game. My question is, where does World Snooker, the governing body of professional snooker, fit into this structure? Are they excluded from the Olympics because they are not part of this organisation?

Anonymous said...


Just a few comments from my part on what I've read.

First of all Dave, congrats on your blog, I thoroughly enjoy reading it and will continue to do so regardless :)

Secondly, some people argue whether snooker is a sport or a game. Sport is simply defined as competition. Following this then, it must be a sport since there is competition. Same goes for chess and checkers when played competitively. After all, sport isn't merely defined by it's physical nature or character.

Thirdly, some people keep claiming snooker doesn't have any characters, or players they can relate to. Agreed, we may not have the Alex Higginses or Kirk Stevenses. Yet, last year I believe Ken Doherty wore black/white shoes, how is that not the same as Joe Johnson and his colourful shoes? Or Shaun Murphy wearing a pen stripe suit rather than black/white. Or even Dominic Dale and his antics and dress.

For me it's simple...with more professionalism (from the players mind you!) comes less variation. Not wanting to compare different sports to snooker, but as others have sidestepped, please allow me a transgression as well. What makes Tiger Woods stand apart from the rest of the golf crowd? His dress? His frivolities off the course? His outspoken character? IMHO, none of the above, he's just as grey as all the others, he just plays the game a lot better ;)

Same for Rafael Nadal. Why is he so special? Does he go about running riot by making remarks? No. Does he wear silly outfits? No, since the sleeveless shirts are all about nowadays. So why do people recognise him more than others? Purely because of 1) skill and 2) his looks.

For the rest of these 2 sports I'd truly be hardpressed to point out any other characters, and yes, I watch many sports and love most of them. People like McEnroe, Connors, or Nicklaus have long gone and the games have moved on and players become more professional.

As stated before, with that comes less "individualism".

Just imho btw!!!


jamie brannon said...

The press dont cover it as there is not the 'how the British are doing angle'. Murray gets more attention as he is taking on the World, even in golf you can look at how the Europeans are faring. Also snooker is not active enough but we are never going to change that.

Anonymous said...

yes we in britain are so dam good at it..

the reason its growing in china is "how's the chinese doing" angle!

Anonymous said...

jurgen i am sorry but youre completely wrong

sport isnt defined by "competition" otherwise all sorts of things like

- first fly to climb the wall is the winner

- first one to eat their cereal at the breakfast is the winner

would all be classed as sport.

a general rule of thumb is if its recognised by the ioc as a sport, then it is.

you could say almost everything we do in private entertainment could become competitive and im sure loads of them wouldnt be sports.

IMHO of course

Anonymous said...

Snooker is a sport.

its more competative than most the others sports..

i dont count Ice Skating sport because you rely on judging to win same with Diving,Gymnastics and Syncranised Swimming.

for me Sport is something where you win off youre own bat and not reliant on other peoples opinions..

in the Olympic movement theres things that shouldnt be there and is and others that should be and isnt.