Prize money for the Roewe Shanghai Masters has been increased.

The total prize fund this season will be £300,000 with £55,000 going to the winner.

Last year, the total pot was worth £282,000, with Ricky Walden pocketing £52,000 as champion.

The tournament's prize fund and staging costs are paid by Chinese promoters under a five year deal with the WPBSA announced in 2007.


So 45% voted the current decade as their favourite for snooker. 26% went with the 1990s, 25% the 1980s and 1% the 1970s.

The new poll asks whether you will watch the 110sport.tv coverage of the qualifiers.



It's interesting that the only top 16 player to enter the first Pro Challenge Series event ended up winning it.

Stephen Maguire is £5,000 better off for going to Leeds. Good luck to him. It's more profitable than knocking balls in at his home club.

Despite what people say, there is a clear difference in standard when you compare players at the top of the rankings with those lower down.

The top ranked players are where they are because they are better. They all started at the bottom and have risen through the ranks because of how well they have played.

I realise this sounds obvious but it is perhaps still worth saying.



The WPBSA has signed a landmark deal with 110sport.tv to stream the qualifiers of all professional tournaments on the internet.

It means snooker fans will be able to watch every ball of every qualifying match live, starting with next week's Shanghai Masters qualifiers.

I understand 110sport will also inaugurate new events to be screened on their website.

This is, by anyone's definition, good news.

When I have more specific details I will of course report them here.


I'm in Sheffield for a few days for reasons that need not detain us here.

Like any self-respecting snooker fan, I went to the Crucible yesterday. Except, it's like a mausoleum: wrapped in tarpaulin and covered in scaffolding.

This is all part of the ongoing renovation of the iconic venue but it was still odd to witness.

Far more seriously, Vijay's Indian restaurant up by the Grosvenor Hotel has shut down. For as long as I can remember, this was the traditional venue of choice for an eve of tournament nosh-up for journalists and officials relishing the 17 days of lunacy to come.

But no longer.

I can't help thinking that this is a metaphor for something.



Graeme Dott is the latest snooker player to suffer a mishap with his cue.

In fact, it was more than a mishap. The cue is broken beyond repair.

It was damaged - no surprise here - at an airport. Dott had used the cue to win the 2006 World Championship.

Then again, perhaps a new start is what the Glaswegian needs. He has endured a disappointing couple of seasons - in which he suffered from depression and broke his arm - and is now out of the top 16.

Dott has always been a fighter and I'm sure he'll be giving it everything with his new cue. Its first test comes in the new Pro Challenge Series, which starts tomorrow.


Continuing my look ahead to the new season with a focus on the younger members of the professional circuit...

I’d back Mark Allen to kick on from his fine end to last season, when he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan en route to the Betfred.com World Championship semi-finals.

Allen has always been a great talent bestowed with considerable self belief. His confidence will be at an all time high right now – as he proved by winning the Jiangsu Classic in June – and he could well lift more silverware in the next year.

His downfall in the past has been keeping his frustration at bay, but there were few signs of self implosion at the Crucible and Allen must surely be one to follow this season.

Judd Trump has been thrown into the lion’s den of the Premier League, which will be a great experience for him playing live on television against some of the biggest names of the sport.

Trump’s chief problem thus far in his career has been reproducing the excellent form he’s shown at the qualifiers at the main venues.

Time is on a side – he’s still a teenager – but those who love to carp from the sidelines will soon be on his back if he doesn’t continue his upward progress this season.

The Bristol lad is in the top 32 for the first time. His target this year must surely be a top 16 place.

Jamie Cope seems to have stalled a little since he appeared in two ranking finals during the 2006/07 campaign.

He looked a certainty for the top 16 back then but hasn’t quite made the breakthrough. Like many players of his age, Cope is a frighteningly good long potter and break-builder but is yet to develop the sort of all round game a player can fall back on when they are not firing on all cylinders.

Liang Wenbo is another good example of this. When it all works for him, he looks deadly but, when it doesn’t, he can look average.

Liang won the £50,000 first prize in the recent Beijing Challenge and has the potential to be a top 16 player but this, of course, does not mean that he will be one.

His fellow Chinese Ding Junhui feels like a veteran but is still only 22. In beating Liang at the World Championship he suggested he had finally got himself out of a worrying slump in form but could not sustain this in the second round against Stephen Hendry.

You don’t win the UK Championship at the age of 18 without being an excellent player. Ding’s problems are not with his game but his mental state. If he can sort them out he will be a winner again.

Daniel Wells won three matches 10-9 before losing another to be denied a place at the Crucible in his debut season.

Wells does mix attack and defence and this was one of the reasons he managed to carve out enough results to keep his place on the tour.

David Morris is yet to set the world alight but has crept up to 58th in the rankings and has the ability to go further but needs a breakthrough – a good run in a big event.

Snooker needs its young players to be doing well. Sports need to renew themselves with fresh faces to avoid the accusation they have stagnated.

For this reason, I wish the circuit’s young guns all the best for the coming season.



Former British Open champion Nigel Bond beat David Grace 3-0 in Taiwan today to land the gold medal at the World Games.

Bond, the runner-up to Stephen Hendry at the Crucible in 1995, outpointed Grace 237-26 to wrap up a comfortable win.


John Higgins will finish the season as world no.1 according to 47% of those who voted in our poll.

28% thought it would be Ronnie O'Sullivan, 9% Ali Carter and 14% someone else.

The next poll asks which era was your favourite for snooker.



If I had a pound for every time someone asked me where Tony Meo is these days and what he's doing now I'd have...well...several pounds.

Well, at last we have an answer!

Roger Lee has been to interview him for the August issue of Snooker Scene (out on August 5) and has taken a picture of how he looks now.

I must admit I did a double take before recognising him.

Roger has also been to interview Patsy Fagan, the 1977 UK champion.


Continuing my preview of the new season with a look at the likely prospects of the game's veteran brigade...

There’s something genuinely heart-warming about a great player in any sport, apparently past their prime, coming up on the rails to produce a performance worthy of their heyday.

That’s why Tom Watson’s adventures at the Open last week caught the imagination. At 59, he had been rated a 1,500/1 shot before play began on the first day. As it transpired, he had a putt on the last to win it.

It didn’t go in, of course, and it is rare for a champion of the past to return and recapture former glories in this manner.

Doug Mountjoy did it in snooker in 1988 when he won the UK Championship for a second time, ten years after his first triumph. He went on to win the next ranking event, the Mercantile Classic, as well.

Steve Davis played superbly to reach the 2005 UK final, beating Mark Allen, Stephen Maguire, Ken Doherty and Stephen Hendry before coming up short against Ding Junhui.

So, what are the prospective fortunes of the game’s elder statesmen next season?

Stephen Hendry has fallen out of the top eight in the world rankings for the first time in 22 years.

Is this significant? Well, the amazing thing is that he was in there for 22 years when so many players have come and gone during the same time. There’s no disgrace being ranked 10th at the age of 40. The question is whether Hendry can climb back up.

He might well do because he is still so driven. He’s not the sort to be content with turning up and receiving grand applause, effectively making up the numbers.

No, when he thinks he can’t compete at the top level any longer he will retire.

Hendry last won one of snooker’s ‘big three’ titles – the world, UK or Masters – ten years ago. His last ranking title came four and a half years ago.

But if he can get some consistency back there’s no reason why he can’t be a winner again. This happened only rarely last season but there were a few signs – not least at the Crucible that he can turn it on for prolonged spells.

Steve Davis, that other great multi-champion of the modern age, starts his 32nd season as a professional at 13th in the provisional rankings. He will be 52 next month.

This old warhorse has stuck around so long because he changed his game and came to rely more on his safety than breakbuilding. There’s no reason why this won’t continue to work. Indeed, I’d argue it has been so effective because of the way snooker has become so open and attacking.

There's not many who can compete with the Nugget in the tactical stakes.

Steve loves snooker. I think you really will have to scrape him off the table and if he’s still on the tour when he’s 60 it wouldn’t be any great surprise. In January, he will have played professional snooker in five different decades.

What of Jimmy White? He starts in 56th place and so is excused one round of qualifying compared to last season.

There are times when he still produces excellent snooker but it’s hard to imagine White ever returning to the top 16. The top 48 is a possibility and so too, at a push, is the top 32. As ever, though, this may just be wishful thinking. I hope not.

John Parrott, I rather suspect, will be the next snooker ‘legend’ to hang up his cue. JP doesn’t need to be going to Prestatyn and has nothing else he wants to accomplish on the table. As he slides down the rankings it must become less and less fun.

Ken Doherty, who is 40 in September, has fallen at an alarming rate. Doherty is now 46th after a wretched season and desperately needs some confidence.

This will only come from winning matches. I wouldn’t be surprised if he started to turn it around now he’s used to the qualifying set up, but it’s a long way back to the top.

Peter Ebdon won seven matches in ranking events last season, five of which were in the China Open, a title which he of course captured.

It was only this that kept him in the top 16, but he had off table problems and he may be more settled going into the new campaign. If anyone is going to make an effort to keep his place in the elite, it’s Ebdon.

Looking at some of the older players, Tony Drago and James Wattana return. The best they can really hope for is to keep their places on the circuit. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

Nigel Bond had a poor season saved by him reaching the last 16 of the World Championship. How much longer can he hold off Old Father Time?

Nobody goes on forever, but the old guard will be determined to go on for as long as they possibly can.



The big surprise of the World Games so far has been the defeat of Shanghai Masters champion Ricky Walden.

He lost 3-1 to Wu Yu Lin of Taiwan today.

Another professional, Mike Dunn, was beaten 3-2 by Egypt's Mohammed Awad yesterday.

It leaves us with a quarter-final line-up as follows:

Shu Hun Lin (Taiwan) v David Grace (England)
Soheil Vahedi (Iran) v Mohammed Awad (Egypt)
Nigel Bond (England) v Thepchaiya Un Nooh (Thailand)
Mohammed Shehab (UAE) v Wu Yu Lin (Taiwan)

Gerard Greene, who won the gold four years ago, withdrew for reasons unknown.


This week, a TV commentator and former player who remains one of snooker's best known figures...

Willie Thorne is one of the best talents ever to have played the game but he failed to marshal his ability to become a regular tournament winner.

In an era where century breaks were far less commonplace than today, Thorne compiled a total of 126. He is still 20th on the all time list, with 29 players having made a century of centuries.

But he never quite delivered on his considerable potential and ended his career with only one ranking title to his name.

He was a talented teenager and won the English under 16 title at snooker and billiards in 1970.

Thorne turned professional in 1974 when the circuit offered few playing opportunities and was one of the original 16 to play at the Crucible when the World Championship moved there in 1977.
He became established as one of snooker’s biggest names during the boom years of the 1980s. With his bald pate and bushy moustache, he was instantly identifiable and a regular face on TV.

His best ranking was seventh, which he reached in the 1986/87 season and again in 1993/94, but his form could be erratic and he was relegated from the top 16 on four separate occasions.

Thorne appeared in seven ranking event semi-finals and converted three of these into appearances in finals, a low return given his obvious ability. Indeed, he only twice reached the World Championship quarter-finals.

But he had off table distractions, not least a gambling addiction he went on to describe in his entertaining autobiography, ‘Double or Quits.’

Thorne’s best moment came at the 1985 Mercantile Classic, in which he beat Kirk Stevens, John Virgo, Steve Davis and Cliff Thorburn to register his sole ranking success.

But he will always be remembered for missing the blue when leading Davis 13-8 in the UK Championship final later the same year.

Had it gone in, Thorne would surely have gone on to win his biggest ever title and who knows what may have followed?

But it didn’t go in and Davis fought back to beat him 16-14 and deliver a lethal blow to his future career prospects in a sport where mental scars take a long time to heal.

Despite this, Thorne did enjoy some success in non ranking events, winning the 1986 Kong Kong Masters, 1987 Kent Cup, 1986 Matchroom League and 1989 New Zealand Masters.

He was runner-up in the Irish Masters in 1986 and 1987. In 2000, he won the Seniors Masters title.

He hardly discouraged his nickname of ‘Mr Maximum’ having reputedly made hundreds in practice. His only 147 in tournament play came in the non-televised phase of the 1987 UK Championship.

Under any definition of the word ‘character,’ Thorne would qualify. He would play up to an image of himself as flash and big headed but was actually self deprecating, with the other players in on the joke.

For example, it wasn’t unheard of for Willie to enter a practice room at a tournament and say something like, “so, who was the best player in here until I walked in?”

In the 1993 UK Championship, he led Drew Henry 7-1 at the halfway stage and made great play of making sure everyone knew he had booked a restaurant for 8.30pm following the 7pm start.

Henry beat him 9-8 at gone 11pm.

At the Crucible in 1996, he was involved in an argument with referee John Williams, who wanted to re-rack a frame with Thorne around 50 points ahead against Andy Hicks.

Hicks won the match and afterwards said Thorne may have done better had he not spent his time “huffin’ and puffin’ around the table.”

He had his disappointments but Thorne, as he always was, remains a friendly, laidback character who played a significant role in the 1980s boom. He even appeared on Chas ‘n’ Dave’s ‘Snooker Loopy’ where he was called upon to sing the immortal line “perhaps I ought to chalk it” (referring to his head).

Thorne is now the BBC’s principal commentator with a forthright style that divides opinion.

He has always been conscious of his celebrity status and has maintained his profile in a number of ways, not least by taking part in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing two years ago.

In the last few months he has appeared on ITV’s Mr and Mrs and on the BBC’s Cash in the Attic.

Now 55, Thorne is still one of snooker’s most recognisable figures, a regular at charity golf days, sportsman’s dinners and in the media, even though he has not played professionally for seven years.

Perhaps that is his greatest victory of all.



Alex Higgins, the combative, combustible former world champion, may finally have met his match.

The 'Hurricane' will face Anne Robinson on BBC1's Weakest Link at 5.50pm this coming Saturday.

It will be interesting to see how this angry, argumentative character fares.

I'm also looking forward to seeing how Higgins does.



In the latest Snooker Scene podcast, our editor Clive Everton answers readers questions.

You can listen to it here.

We mention Gordon Burn during one of the answers. This was obviously recorded before his death.


Poor old Ken Doherty has had his cue impounded by customs officers at Heathrow following the six reds event in Thailand, presumably because of some meaningless red tape that has to be sorted out.

After the season he’s just had, this is the last thing Ken needs.

Of course, it was at Heathrow that the cue with which Stephen Hendry won seven world titles was destroyed beyond repair back in 2003.

He’s never been the same since. I didn’t think it would affect him that badly after watching him beat Ronnie O’Sullivan to win the British Open shortly afterwards in what was probably Hendry’s best performance of the decade.

But it was clear when he turned up at the 2007 World Championship with a cue he’d had for less than a month that he wasn’t happy.

Hendry wouldn’t blame losing the old cue, and it’s worth remembering that he reclaimed the world no.1 spot in 2006, but, put it this way, it didn’t help his career.

The irony, of course, is that his old cue wasn’t reckoned to be up to much. But players get used to a cue and, in a game that relies so much on mental resilience, it can be hard adjusting to a new one, especially when you have to.

This is why O’Sullivan’s capture of the Masters title last season was so remarkable. Ronnie had smashed up his previous cue a few days before Wembley but played brilliantly in the final.

That said, he struggled for the rest of the season. This was not necessarily down to the new cue. Indeed, I’d back him to make a century with any old bit of wood, but there are so many factors that can alter the way a player is feeling that you want to limit them to as few as possible.

Sometimes damage to a cue can end up being a positive, though.

John Spencer had his broken in a car accident in 1977. He went on to become the first Crucible world champion not long afterwards.


So the blog has had a radical redesign, by which I mean it's now red and includes a weekly poll.

If I were one of those people paid thousands to spout marketing speak I would come up with a highly annoying reason for the change to red.

But I'm not so I'll just tell the truth: I quite like the colour.

I well remember the controversy when the set for 1987 World Championship changed colour but it didn't do any long term damage to the tournament.

Then again, a year later it reverted back to its original colour and was never spoken of again.



Gordon Burn, author of Pocket Money, one of the best books ever written about snooker, has died of cancer at the age of 61.

Burn followed the 1985/86 season, a magical boom time for snooker which was vividly brought to life by his excellent writing.

He also wrote books on Peter Sutcliffe, Fred and Rose West and 24-hour rolling news.

If any snooker fan is yet to read Pocket Money, I recommend it as one of the few essential snooker books.


There's more snooker underway this week.

At the Northern in Leeds it's the Paul Hunter English Open, which includes players such as Stephen Lee, Ryan Day, Michael Holt, Stuart Bingham, Dave Harold and Tony Drago.

And out in Taiwan Gerard Greene is defending his World Games title against the likes of Ricky Walden, Nigel Bond and Thepchaiya Un Nooh.

Global-Snooker.com has coverage of both events.

Next week the first Pro Challenge Series tournament is played and a fortnight today the qualifiers for the Shanghai Masters will be underway.



Over the next couple of weeks I will be building up to the start of the new professional season. First up, a look at the main tour newcomers...

With only six ranking events scheduled this season it will be difficult for most of the new intake to survive.

The problem with starter points is that they aren't a fixed figure but completely arbitrary – the new players receive the same amount of points as the lowest ranked survivor from last year.

This season that is David Roe, who has 4,320 points to carry into the new campaign. Last season new players got 5,088 points.

[Edit: this is nonsense! They actually get points equivalent to the lowest ranked of the eight players on the one year list who kept their places, so it's 5,850, the same number as Atthasit Mahitthi.]

Personally, I feel it would be fairer to double the number of points earned by newcomers to give them more of a chance.

Now, I know what many of you are thinking: if you’re good enough, you will stay on.

There’s a glimmer of truth in this. Mark Allen is the best recent example of a player who came fresh to the tour and made the most of it.

But the fact remains that life in the professional game takes some getting used to, even for those who have gone on to be greats of the sport.

You need time to get used to your new status and the step up in standard required.

The worst thing a debutant can allow themselves to think is that it will be easy. Many of them come to the pro ranks having experienced success as juniors with the feeling – often subconscious – that some of the old sweats of the tour will be easy to roll over.

They will soon learn the truth. We may never see a whole group of main tour players on TV but, at Prestatyn, they know what they are doing. Young players coming through are often lambs to the slaughter.

The modern game is all about attack, but it’s hard to do this when you are constantly on the back cushion or up behind a baulk colour. I think this is why Daniel Wells stayed on last season: he said before the start of the campaign that he was going to be more cautious than many of his contemporaries.

Anyway, step forward the players about to experience professional snooker for the first time...

Thepchaiya Un Nooh
David Hogan
Sam Baird
Jordan Brown
Mei Xiwen
Anda Zhang
Brendan O’Donoghue
Craig Steadman
Stephen Rowlings

Of these, Thepchaiya Un Nooh is the most obvious newcomer to follow as reigning IBSF world amateur champion.

One current player told me that the “world amateur title isn’t what it was” but, even if this is true, and many would disagree, it doesn’t alter the fact that the Thai won it.

For years, Thailand has been looking for a successor to James Wattana and has never quite found one (indeed Wattana himself returns to the main tour this season). I’ve never seen Thepchaiya play but those who have are excited about his emergence. He won one of the PIOS events last season and can rekindle interest in snooker back home if he does well this term.

But what does ‘doing well’ mean? Well, for all of the above it has to be merely staying on the circuit. To do this they must finish either in the top 64 in the official rankings or in the top eight on the provisional list of those not already qualified.

To put this into context, 24 players will be relegated at the end of the season. How many of these will come from the new intake?

In Snooker Scene, we will be following the fortunes of Jordan Brown in a new monthly column.

He is, as you would expect, very excited but also realistic about his chances. There is no big talk about getting on TV or to the Crucible. He just wants to keep his place.

In common with many young players, Brown relies on support from his parents and also his employer who gives him time off work to play.

Players who have jobs of course have less time to practice but this is an economic reality not helped by the fact that they need to win two matches in ranking events to earn any prize money.

Brown is the Northern Ireland no.1. Brendan O’Donoghue is the Republic of Ireland’s top amateur.

In his favour is the thriving scene in Ireland, with regular tournaments affording competitive opportunities. The same applies to his compatriot David Hogan, winner of the European amateur title.

Sam Baird, winner of the English play-off, lives in the South West, which has only ever produced a handful of top players, but practises with Judd Trump and, like all the newcomers, will be playing more than ever before the Shanghai Masters qualifiers on August 3.

The two Chinese debutants – Mei Xiwen and Anda Zhang – will presumably be practising at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield, a first rate venue that gives them the chance to play alongside several world class players, including Ding and Peter Ebdon.

But they will have to adjust to life in the UK and, with the exception of Liang Wenbo, none of Chinese players to emerge in recent years, have really threatened to emulate any of Ding’s feats.

Craig Steadman and Stephen Rowlings have more experience, having played on various circuits for a number of years. Perhaps this will be in their favour. Experience is key in any sport, although ultimately snooker comes down to who can pot the balls no matter how long they’ve been playing.

So how many will survive?

It’s impossible to say. I certainly hope some of them do but, inevitably, they won’t all make the cut.

But I wish them all well. They have practised for years for this chance.

Turning professional is a dream for many thousands of players. Even if it turns into a nightmare for some, to have made it this far is a fine achievement in itself.



Apparently this is the 22nd most influential sports blog on the interwebby thing.

This time next year it is my intention to be at the very least 21st.



BBC snooker presenter Ray Stubbs is leaving to present Premier League football on ESPN.

Stubbs has worked for the BBC for 25 years. In the 1980s, he was a producer and put together the famous 'Way We Were' montage featuring the way players had changed over the years.

He began presenting snooker in 2002 and was the BBC's main presenter at the Crucible this year as Hazel Irvine was on maternity leave.



As it’s 40 years since man first walked on the moon, so it must be 40 years since the launch of the programme that led to snooker becoming a television success.

Unlike the Apollo 11 mission, Pot Black really was staged in a TV studio, at Pebble Mill in Birmingham.

It came about because the then BBC2 controller, David Attenborough, wanted colour programmes for the new channel.

Snooker was an obvious choice with its different colours and it was also held indoors and involved a small playing area and so was cheap to produce.

All this was music to the ears of Ted Lowe, who had tried for years to interest the BBC in a snooker series.

With the BBC producer Philip Lewis, Lowe cobbled together eight players and a simple format: each match would be played over a single frame.

It was introduced with ‘Black and White Rag’, played by Winifred Attwell, and first aired on July 23, 1969. Lowe commentated, Alan Weekes presented and the referee was Sydney Lee.

All that was expected of the players is that they would ensure the frames lasted half an hour to fit the slot.

Ray Reardon beat John Spencer in the first final. Spencer and Eddie Charlton would each win it three times.

It gave the players of the day invaluable exposure as they made most of their money from exhibitions. An appearance on Pot Black would lead to bookings and a degree of fame unthinkable just a few years earlier.

These were simpler times before internet betting, indeed before the internet. I know more than one person who fleeced the bookies by betting on an event that had already been played.

In time, Junior Pot Black was launched, won twice by John Parrott and once by Dean Reynolds.

It all seems incredibly prosaic now but Pot Black’s significance cannot be underplayed.

The success of the programme led to the BBC covering the World Championship, in bits and pieces at first and then from first ball to last from 1978 onwards.

The huge audiences it attracted meant they were soon covering other tournaments and ITV piled in as well as the airwaves became saturated with snooker during the 1980s.

Viewers were captivated by proper tournament play and Pot Black came to be seen as a relic of the past. In 1986, it was discontinued.

However, in 1991 it was revived and shown on BBC1 in the afternoons.

And then in 1992 some bright spark – last seen wandering the streets wrapped in bacon rind pretending to be Florence Nightingale – introduced a calamitous new format.

‘Timeframe’ was designed to guarantee half an hour’s snooker, with each player having the same amount of time. So after a shot the player would have to stop their own clock, which would automatically start their opponent’s.

Farce doesn’t even cover it. Some players forgot completely, others were seen sprinting, Linford Christie like, to save a couple of seconds.

For those of you who think the shot clock or six reds is a nonsense, this had to be seen to be believed.

It was never used again but, after the 1993 staging, the programme was scrapped.

But in TV land, nothing is dead forever (ask Bobby Ewing) and Pot Black was once again revived in 1997 as a seniors event. It gave the old boys who had played in some of the original programmes the chance to do battle again.

And then in 2005 Pot Black returned with the top professionals as Saturday afternoon entertainment.

It was played in the plush surroundings of the snooker room at the RAC Club in London and allowed players the chance to relax and show a different side to the game.

It was all very convivial but, two years later and acting on the time honoured snooker principle of ‘if it ain’t broke, break it’ the event was moved to Sheffield City Hall, a venue with all the atmosphere of an abandoned mausoleum.

Worse still, it was scheduled opposite one of England’s matches in the rugby union World Cup. The audience was dire and Pot Black bit the dust once again.

But don’t bet against it returning at some point in the future. Maybe it could be a showcase for six reds, maybe it could be for veterans or juniors or international talent.

Pot Black was the programme that got generations of players interested in snooker.

It will forever be remembered as a giant leap for the sport.



This week, one of the all time legends...

Fred Davis was the younger brother of snooker’s first world champion but forged a professional career full of success in his own right which was to span nearly 60 years.

Fred was 12 years the junior of Joe Davis. His own professional career began in unpromising fashion. He lost to Bill Withers 17-14 in the 1937 World Championship.

Joe was furious. He didn’t rate Withers and could not believe his brother had been beaten by him.

This shook Fred’s own self confidence but it also led him to seek help from an optician, who fitted him with ‘sportsman’s glasses’, which undoubtedly improved his game.

Nobody beat Joe in the World Championship from its first staging in 1927 to 1946, when he retired.

Fred came closest in 1940, losing 37-36 in the final and was an obvious favourite for the title when his brother finally bowed out.

He lost to Walter Donaldson in the 1947 final – they were to contest eight in a row – but beat him in 1948, 1949, 1951, 1952 (see this story about Horace Lindrum), 1953 and 1954.

In 1955 and 1956 he defeated John Pulman to complete an eighth title triumph but the writing was on the wall for snooker, which was struggling to stay alive.

These were dark days for the professional game. Those who today complain about the sport’s fortunes should put themselves in the shoes of the professionals of the 1950s, where TV coverage was sporadic and prize money more like pocket change.

After the 1957 event, the World Championship was scrapped. Fred would still play exhibitions and also take part in matches on the BBC against Joe for Grandstand, especially in the winter months when there was a risk that outdoor sport would be called off because of bad weather.

This gave him some exposure but it was not the same as playing in tournaments.

In 1959 Fred was asked by Clive Everton, who of course went on to become Snooker Scene’s editor, how he saw the future of snooker.

His reply was to the point. “It has no future,” he said.

Players made money primarily from exhibitions. Fred once turned up at one and asked where the table was, only to be told, “Oh, we thought you’d bring it with you.”

In this period, Joe Davis had continued to play in other events but was only ever beaten off level terms by one player: Fred.

The World Championship was revived on a challenge basis in 1964 and reverted to knockout in 1969.

By this time, Davis was past his prime but in 1978, at the age of 64, he reached the Crucible semi-finals. It was a fine performance by a player who slaved away in snooker’s most troubled times and was now receiving some much deserved recognition in the first World Championship the BBC had covered from first ball to last.

The BBC put together a musical montage set to the Beatles song ‘When I’m Sixty Four’ featuring various shots of Fred, usually smiling. His was a story the public instantly warmed to.

He could have beaten Perrie Mans but missed a pink that would have reduced his arrears to 16-15 and was beaten 18-16.

It was all too much for brother Joe, watching from the audience. He collapsed and died just over two months later.

Fred beat Kirk Stevens in the opening round the following year, making him the oldest ever match winner at the Crucible.

On the way to victory he constructed a 109 break that even the match referee applauded.

Davis made his last Crucible appearance in 1984 at the age of 70. It seems inconceivable now that anyone of that age will ever again play on snooker’s biggest stage.

I saw him play on his last ever TV appearance in Barry Hearn’s 1991 World Masters. He was 77 at the time and played Steve Davis.

Naturally, he lost 6-0 but his famous smile was much in evidence.

He carried on playing because he loved snooker. Even though he lost his place on the professional circuit through losing a pro ticket match (which pitted a low ranked player against a wannabe qualifier) to Jason Prince in 1990, he carried on competing when the game went open in 1991.

The following season, at the age of 78, he drew a 16 year-old Ronnie O’Sullivan in the qualifying rounds for the Grand Prix. Despite the 62-year age gap, Davis took a frame off the future world champion.

He finally retired at the age of 79 in 1993, some 57 years since he first competed as a professional.

He had been awarded the MBE in 1977. He also won two World Professional Billiards titles.

Fred may have lived for a long time in his brother’s shadow, but consider this: he played professional snooker in six different decades, a distinction that may never be bettered.

He died the day before the 1998 World Championship at the age of 84.



Another week, another tournament is underway in the Far East.

This one is the General Cup in Hong Kong, which features Liang Wenbo - fresh from his Beijing triumph - as well as Ricky Walden, Tian Pengfei and, of course, Hong Kong's greatest ever player, Marco Fu.

Also in the field are young prospects Chan Wai Kei and Li Yan, who beat the reigning Asian under 21 champion, Anda Zhang, to book his place in the round robin stage.

Full daily coverage is available at Global Snooker.



The world rankings are worked out using two seasons’ points. At the halfway stage of what will become the official list for 2010/11 the provisional list is as follows:

1) John Higgins
2) Ali Carter
3) Ronnie O’Sullivan
4) Shaun Murphy
5) Neil Robertson
6) Stephen Maguire
7) Ryan Day
8) Marco Fu
9) Mark Selby
10) Mark Allen
11) Stephen Hendry
12) Ricky Walden
13) Steve Davis
14) Joe Perry
15) Mark King
16) Peter Ebdon

What are your predictions for how the official list will look at the end of the season? Here’s mine:

1) John Higgins
2) Ronnie O’Sullivan
3) Shaun Murphy
4) Ryan Day
5) Ali Carter
6) Stephen Maguire
7) Mark Selby
8) Mark Allen
9) Neil Robertson
10) Ricky Walden
11) Marco Fu
12) Joe Perry
13) Jamie Cope
14) Mark Williams
15) Stephen Hendry
16) Barry Hawkins

As John Higgins has a 6,900 point lead at the head of the current provisional list it will take a poor season to threaten his no.1 position and with just six ranking events it would really need to be a shocking run for him to lose out.

I predict reasonably strong seasons from Marks Selby and Allen and from Ryan Day and Ricky Walden, so I have them all moving up.

There are just 950 points separating Steve Davis in 13th place and Graeme Dott in 22nd so the race for a top 16 place could be very interesting this season.

I’m predicting a good season for Jamie Cope, who I think will breakthrough and possibly win a tournament.

I was also impressed pretty much every time I saw Barry Hawkins play last season and think he’ll get the bits of luck he missed out on last term.

I’d like to be wrong but I think Stephen Hendry will continue his decline – albeit gradual – and slip down a little.

As for the players being relegated: take out the China Open and Peter Ebdon was poor last season. I also don’t think Mark King will hang on to his place in the elite.

And I’m afraid Ding Junhui doesn’t make the cut for me either.

But this is only a bit of fun based on nothing more than guesswork.

Remember, as the satirist Robert Storm Petersen said: it’s tough making predictions, especially about the future.



Whether you love six reds snooker or hate it - and many snooker fans really do hate it - it's here to stay.

Jimmy White today beat Barry Hawkins 8-6 to win the Sangsom Grand Prix in Bangkok.

For those who think the whole tournament was some kind of joke, consider this: White won £18,000 - over £5,000 more than he pocketed for the whole of last season.

Why does six reds snooker appeal?

Well, it should guarantee shorter frames in theory because the reds are quickly split. That said, there's no reason why a half an hour safety battle on the green can't ensue in this form of snooker just as it can in the 15 red version.

Perhaps it's more that it is regarded as 'new' and therefore some sort of answer to the game's problems.

Twenty/20 has been heralded as doing the same for cricket. But anyone who followed the conclusion of the first Ashes Test from Cardiff today knows that the traditional game is still capable of delivering great entertainment.

Even so, three of the WPBSA's new Pro Challenge Series events will be played using only six reds. It's been used in the World Series and is being used in various club competitions in the UK and beyond.

So does this spell the end of 'normal' snooker?

Of course not. The slow burning drama served up during the World Championship is what makes it such a highpoint of the sporting calendar.

Taking away reds or having a shot clock would wreck it as a spectacle.

But I predict more six reds events will crop up. The fact that they level the playing field goes against the survival of the fittest ethos of top level sport but it also makes them an attractive proposition for players of varying abilities.

Perhaps this should be remembered, though: snooker is only played using 15 reds through the arbitrary decision of a bunch of British army officers who messed around with other cue sports in inventing the game in the late 19th century.

They did so because they were bored while it was raining outside. Had it stayed sunny, snooker may never have been invented at all.

More than a century later the 15 red version isn't going anywhere, so I think we can all be relaxed about the six reds experiment.


Liang Wenbo defeated Stephen Maguire 7-6 to win the Beijing International Challenge, his first professional title.

Here's a question: will he overtake Ding Junhui as China's no.1 player by the end of next season?

One thing Liang has never lacked is confidence. There's a fear in some that he is still too attacking but there's no doubt he's a great talent.


The Independent is celebrating the greatest moments in snooker.

You can read Nick Harris's account of the 1985 Taylor-Davis black ball finish here.

I wouldn't argue with their other choices, with the possible exception of the 1997 Charity Challenge final (which wasn't in Liverpool as the paper claims), in which Stephen Hendry beat Ronnie O'Sullivan 9-8 with a maximum in the decider. Context is everything. They played like it was an exhibition because it was basically an exhibition tournament.

However, this minor quibble aside you can't argue with a national newspaper taking time to mark some of the great moments of our game.

For the record, here's a reminder of my top ten moments.



If you have satellite television and are having withdrawal symptoms in these dog days of summer then you should be aware that there is snooker on the TV pretty regularly courtesy of ESPN Classic.

It’s on channel 442 in the UK.

Here are the programmes ESPN Classic will be showing over the next few weeks:

Sun July 12 02:20: World Snooker Championship, 1973

Sun July 12 10:40: World Snooker Championship, 1973

Fri July 24 23:50: World Snooker Championship, 1980

Sun July 26 01:30: World Snooker Championship, 1980

Fri July 31 23:50: World Snooker Championship, 1981

Sun August 02 01:25: World Snooker Championship, 1981

Mon August 03 10:30: World Snooker Championship, 1982

Fri August 07 11:00: World Snooker Final, 1992

Sat August 08 00:10: World Snooker Championship, 1982

Sat August 08 05:00: World Snooker Championship, 1982

Sat August 08 23:25: World Snooker Championship, 1982

Sat August 15 00:10: Steve Davis v Jimmy White, 1984

Sat August 15 05:30: Steve Davis v Jimmy White, 1984

Sat August 15 23:40: Steve Davis v Jimmy White, 1984

Thu August 20 14:40: World Snooker Championship, 2004

Sat August 22 00:10: World Snooker Final, 1985

Sat August 22 06:00: World Snooker Final, 1985

Sun August 23 01:30: World Snooker Final, 1985

Sat August 29 00:10: World Snooker Final, 1990

Sat August 29 06:30: World Snooker Final, 1990

Sun August 30 00:55: World Snooker Final, 1990

Some great stuff from the archives there, featuring action from four decades, which will be a trip down memory lane for some and an education in snooker history for others.

Bit cruel showing the '85 final on Steve Davis's birthday, though!


Jimmy White will play Barry Hawkins in the final of the Sangsom 6 Reds Grand Prix in Bangkok.

White beat former world champion Mark Williams 7-4 in the semi-finals and Hawkins defeated Judd Trump 7-2.

Meanwhile, Stephen Maguire will face Liang Wenbo in the Beijing International Challenge final.

Maguire beat Stephen Hendry 5-3 while Liang enjoyed a 5-1 defeat of Mark Allen.



Jimmy White made a 6 red 'maximum' of 75 on the way to beating world no.3 Shaun Murphy 6-4 to reach the last 16 of the Sangsom Grand Prix in Bangkok, Thailand today.

The Whirlwind now faces the defending champion, Ricky Walden, for a place in the quarter-finals.

Judd Trump beat another former world champion, Peter Ebdon, 6-1 while Mark Williams and Ken Doherty won their matches to set up a repeat of their 2003 Crucible final.

The current world champion, John Higgins, defeated Supoj Saenla 6-4 and now plays another Thai, the reigning IBSF world amateur champion Thepchaiya Un Nooh.

Joe Perry lost out to James Wattana but there were wins for Michael Holt, Mark King, Ryan Day and Stuart Bingham.

More information is available here.


As it's 31 years to the day since the great Joe Davis died, here he is making what is described as the first televised century break.

I actually think Mark Wildman made one before Joe but, even so, enjoy...



If you're wondering why top players such as Stephen Hendry, Stephen Maguire and Mark Allen would go to China in July to play in an invitation tournament, here's a clue:

The top prize in 110sport's Beijing Challenge is £50,000.

There used to be a large number of small invitation tournaments on the calendar and, having dwindled, it's good to see more cropping up.

Invitation events - not ranking tournaments - are the best way of promoting snooker. They cost far less to stage and feature mainly big names so audiences are guaranteed to recognise the players in action.

In recent years, snooker fans have been brainwashed into believing that if a tournament doesn't hold ranking status it's not worth staging.


Does anyone remember the Irish Masters at Goffs? That was one of the best events on the circuit.

There was also the Scottish Masters in Motherwell and tournaments such as the World Matchplay and the Champions Cup, plus a number of others that helped create a more vibrant circuit than we have today.

Ideally, I'd like to see a Masters series for the top players, preferably played around Europe: short events featuring the top eight or twelve players in the world rewarded for being the elite, something that snooker seems to frown upon.

The WPBSA recently announced tournaments aimed at lower ranked players - how about some purely for those on whose shoulders the game's popularity is carried?



This week, one of the leading players of the early 1990s...

Gary Wilkinson was a great talent who rose to prominence as the Steve Davis era was ending and the Stephen Hendry years were beginning.

He had to win seven matches in the old Pro Ticket Series that was used to determine new professionals and beat Martin Clark in the last of them to earn his shot at the pro circuit in 1987.

Wilkinson’s first significant success came in one of the WPBSA’s non ranking events (much like the newly announced Pro Challenge Series) in 1988 when he beat Alex Higgins 5-4 in the final.

Later that season, he beat Ray Reardon and Tony Drago to qualify for the Crucible where it was his misfortune to draw a certain Mr. Hendry.

Having slipped 6-2 down, he gave the future champion a great game, levelling at 8-8 and 9-9 before Hendry comfortably won the decider.

Wilkinson was a fast, fluent player in those days and the 1989/90 season saw him start to realise his potential.

He reached the semi-finals of three of the campaign’s first five ranking events – the Hong Kong Open, Asian Open and UK Championship – and rose 20 places in the world rankings to 19th.

However, it could have been a lot better but for a mental aberration in his UK semi-final against Davis.

Wilkinson was full of confidence going into the match having beaten Jimmy White 9-0 in the quarter-finals. Leading Davis 8-7, he misread the scoreboard and, believing Davis did not need a snooker, failed to make contact on a thin safety attempt.

Davis put him in again, Wilkinson left the pink, lost the frame and then the decider.

In the 1990/91 season, Wilkinson reached what proved to be his only ranking event final, the British Open.

Again, he gave Hendry a terrific battle but, again, he lost in a decider, 10-9.

Although he reached the World Championship quarter-finals the following month, he had missed out on a huge cash bonus in the first round when he jawed the yellow on 120.

Wilkinson began the 1991/92 season as world no.5 – his highest position – and would capture the biggest title of his career at the World Matchplay Championship, an invitation event for the 12 highest ranked players in the provisional rankings.

He beat Dean Reynolds, John Parrot and Jimmy White to reach the final before completing an 18-11 defeat of Davis.

A year later, as world no.8, he lost 10-8 to Neal Foulds in the final of the Scottish Masters, but his early flamboyance began to disappear and he became slower and, at times, more negative.

He dropped out of the top 16 after only two seasons and reached only three more ranking event quarter-finals, including at the 1995 World Championship.

At the 1999 Welsh Open, he was involved in a frame against Dennis Taylor that was re-racked after 57 minutes.

In the following year’s World Championship, he beat Jason Ferguson 10-9 in the longest ever best of 19 frame encounter – clocked at 698 minutes, including an 83 minute decider – to qualify for the World Championship.

Wilkinson was relegated from the circuit in 2006. Like most players, snooker is in his blood and he is still involved today as a highly efficient member of the WPBSA’s tournament team.



The Global Snooker Awards and Golf Day will be held on October 13 at Celtic Manor, Newport.

The awards are intended to honour those who have made a contribution to the sport as players, promoters, officials and broadcasters.

The golf day, which is hosted by Mark Williams, and awards night will raise money for the Tenovus cancer charity and the Paul Hunter Foundation.

Snooker previously enjoyed awards lunches and nights (and sometimes both) under the auspices of the WPBSA and, more recently, the Snooker Writers Association.

The Global Awards will hopefully get a good turn out from snooker's leading names. Fans can also attend by purchasing tickets.

To vote in the awards or take part in the golf day, go to global-snooker.com.


Two snooker events start today.

The Sangsom 6 Reds Grand Prix is being held in Bangkok and features, among others, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy, Peter Ebdon, Mark Williams, Ken Doherty and Jimmy White.

Meanwhile in Beijing, the 110sport-promoted China International Challenge cues off with the likes of Stephen Hendry, Stephen Maguire, Mark Allen, Marco Fu and Ali Carter in action.

Both events provide the opportunity for players to make a few quid out of season and take the game to parts of the world where it is traditionally popular.

I will endeavour to keep across the scores but for the best coverage would point you to the ever reliable Global Snooker.



Former world champion Joe Johnson is planning a seniors tournament in his native Bradford next year, featuring legends such as Jimmy White, John Parrott and Alex Higgins.

I understand there will also be a new event featuring some of the game’s most established players later this year.

Quite a few sports have events for seniors. In both golf and tennis there are thriving circuits and there are also a number of Masters football competitions.

Snooker is an obvious choice for such a circuit. After all, it isn’t a sport that depends on physical fitness, although years and years of playing can take their toll on players’ backs and, of course, things such as eyesight decline as a player gets older.

There have been seniors tournaments in the past. In 1991, Matchroom promoted a televised World Seniors Championship, in the final of which Cliff Wilson beat Eddie Chalrton.

In 1997, the BBC screened Seniors Pot Black, featuring many well known faces from the original series. Johnson was the eventual winner.

And in 2000, a Seniors Masters was streamed live on the internet from the RAC Club in London, won by Willie Thorne.

So would seniors snooker be a winner?

Consider the following: Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Parrott, White, Nigel Bond, Dave Harold, David Roe, Tony Drago.

All players on the main tour, all 40 or over.

Ken Doherty turns 40 later this year; Peter Ebdon does so next year.

So there are plenty of players still competing and still capable of playing to a high standard who could make a seniors tour a spectacle worth watching.

If you go back further, it becomes a little more questionable as to what sort of standard could be produced. The likes of Cliff Thorburn, Tony Knowles and Dennis Taylor are all popular stars of yesteryear, but they don’t play snooker regularly and therefore the enthusiasm for seeing them in action may wane pretty quickly.

I saw Higgins play in the Irish Professional Championship a couple of years ago. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience.

However, what the veterans do have is the ability to interact with the crowd. They learned their trade doing exhibitions in the days before a living could be made on the professional circuit.

They can do trick shots and tell jokes and generally entertain.

This is lacking from normal tournaments – as it should be (you don’t get Roger Federer or Tiger Woods cracking jokes when they’re playing) – but in a less serious environment it may appeal to audiences.

That said, the image of the old guard as being wisecracking ‘characters’ who didn’t take the game seriously is entirely false. The likes of Taylor, Thorburn and Ray Reardon were among the hardest matchplayers ever to take to the green baize. They despised losing and never gave an inch on the table.

My own view on seniors snooker is that it would be a novelty that would create huge interest at first and then the novelty would probably start to wear off.

As ever, it all depends on how it’s marketed and where it’s played.

I certainly think there is a market for it but, of course, someone has to pay for it, through sponsorship and/or a broadcast partner.

I think in some ways snooker’s past is a millstone around the sport’s neck. Constant comparisons with the ‘good old days’ don’t do the modern game any favours, not least because it doesn’t take into account changes in society and the complete transformation of television.

But the current professional circuit exists largely because of the efforts of those who have gone before.

I don’t think anyone would begrudge them another turn in the spotlight.



The WPBSA has changed the ranking points tariff for next season.

The two Chinese events are now worth 7,000 points apiece to the winners, as opposed to 5,000 last season.

The World Championship is once again worth 10,000 points and the UK Championship 8,000.

Winning the Grand Prix will net 7,000 points - up 750 on last season.

The Welsh Open is now well and truly the poor relation on the circuit, worth 5,000 to the eventual champion.

As two ranking tournaments have been axed, it seems sensible to up the tariffs bearing in mind the rankings are worked out over two seasons.


The first ranking event held outside the UK was the 1988 Canadian Masters.

(Actually, the 1975 World Championship in Australia was given ranking status in retrospect, but let’s not enter that world of hurt).

Snooker had long been popular in Canada and of course produced such fine players as Cliff Thorburn, Kirk Stevens and Bill Werbeniuk.

Jimmy White beat Steve Davis to win the title but such are the costs involved in staging ranking tournaments that it was never held again.

Later the same season, the European Open was inaugurated and staged in Deauville, a town in France best known for its casino.

It certainly wasn’t known for snooker. Crowds were sparse and confusion reigned as to what precisely was going on, as evidenced when one player, Eugene Hughes, was mistaken for a waiter during an interval.

Hotel prices were so steep that one player ordered a beer and a sandwich and was charged the equivalent of £42.

One day, the MC did his introductions in French to the few spectators who had rolled in only to be asked to repeat them in English as they had come over from Portsmouth.

It was a disaster. And so, inevitably, the tournament returned to France the next year.

This time it was held in Lyon, which again failed to embrace snooker. This was in the days before blanket coverage on Eurosport.

In 1989, the Australian Open was announced. There was, however, one snag: it would be played in Hong Kong.

Certain assurances were made by the local promoter in Melbourne. However, the address he gave for his ‘business’ turned out to be a local bus shelter.

Mike Hallett would win what was, surprisingly, his only ranking title in Hong Kong before the first really significant step for the WPBSA outside British shores was made: the Asian Open in Bangkok.

Thailand had a young player called James Wattana who everyone recognised as being a great prospect.

But he exceeded all expectations by going all the way to the final before losing 9-6 to Stephen Hendry. His run sparked a snooker boom in his native land that lasted for the next decade.

Thailand became a regular stopping off point for the circuit and for a couple of years staged two ranking events in the same season.

Booms don’t last forever (China beware) and as Wattana’s form dipped, so did the interest. But when he won his home title in 1994 and 1995, the excitement and enthusiasm was a match for anything snooker has ever seen.

Dubai, like Thailand, had been a territory where Barry Hearn’s Matchroom organisation had staged invitation events in the 1980s, building up the interest.

The WPBSA took over the tournament in 1989 and Hearn was so angry that he instructed his players not to compete.

From these difficult beginnings, the event became established as one of the most popular destinations for snooker, played in luxurious, sun drenched surroundings.

There were ranking events too in the 1990s in Belgium, Holland and Germany. Malta staged eight in total between 1996 and 2007, thanks to the commitment of local promoters Richard Balani and Joe Zammit.

China is not, as some seem to believe, a recent convert to the game. It staged its first ranking event in 1990.

From 1999 to 2002 it hosted four more before financial problems led to the China Open disappearing from the calendar.

The then commercial team of the WPBSA took a chance in 2005 by putting it back on in Beijing. It proved to be an inspired decision. Ding Junhui won the title and the new boom sparked.

There are now two fully funded ranking tournaments in China, with possibilities of more to come.

Of course, travelling so far from home has, at times, caused problems for the players, never more so than for Graeme Dott in 2002 when he missed a series of connecting flights, slept through his alarm call, was taken the wrong way in a taxi to the venue, got there late, was docked two frames and lost.

Mark Selby also famously tried to get to the venue in the middle of the night, disorientated to the extent that he thought it was the afternoon, despite it being pitch black outside.

China is the biggest country in the world and the progress made there represents a step forward for snooker.

But Europe, too, is a huge market and Eurosport has brought the game to legions of new fans.

More than ever, the future of snooker belongs outside the UK.

The sport’s had a chequered history when it’s travelled away from British shores but there are many lands still to conquer.

Let’s hope they are conquered in the years to come.



This week, one of the icons of boom time snooker...

Kirk Stevens was snooker’s man in the white suit: a stylish, entertaining Canadian who will forever be associated with the 147 he made at the 1984 Masters and then a sad, drug addicted, fall from grace.

Good looking and sporting a white suit, he resembled John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever during the game’s rock ‘n’ roll years of the 1980s.

He reached as high as fourth in the world rankings and was a Crucible semi-finalist in 1980 and 1984.

Indeed, he came close both times to reaching the final, losing 16-13 to Alex Higgins and then 16-14 to Jimmy White.

Stevens was among a varied cast of characters who flourished in snooker’s boom period and made up a kind of holy trinity of Canadian players alongside Cliff Thorburn and Bill Werbeniuk who together won the World Team Cup in 1982.

Stevens’s 147 at Wembley in 1984 rates as one of the most exciting maximum breaks ever seen, given the time – there had only previously been two on TV – and the atmosphere, his opponent being London’s favourite, White.

The actor Donald Sutherland was in town and this was the first frame of live snooker he had ever seen.

He must have wondered if the crowd got up and cheered to the rafters after every frame.

It was an iconic moment of the 1980s boom, but life would take a darker turn for the popular Stevens.

In 1985, he played South African Silvino Francisco in the British Open final. During a break in play, Francisco accused Stevens in the toilet of being ‘high as a kite’ on drugs.

He made off the record allegations to a journalist which were tape recorded and then reported.

Eventually, Stevens confessed to a newspaper that he was ‘hopelessly addicted’ to cocaine. The paper paid for his treatment in a drug rehabilitation clinic in Toronto.

This was a private problem played out on the front pages of the national press.

It was an addiction that almost cost him his life and eventually cost him his professional career.

Stevens drifted down the rankings and eventually dropped off the tour in 1993.

He headed back to Canada and undertook a number of jobs, as varied as a car salesman and lumberjack.

Stevens re-qualified in 1998 through winning the North American play-off and spent one more season on the circuit but could not recapture former glories.

Now 50, he still plays and last year won the Canadian Championship, which enabled him to play in the IBSF World Amateur Championship.

If a seniors tour ever got off the ground, Stevens would be a popular draw.

For all his problems, he contributed to a large degree in the excitement of that golden time when snooker ruled the TV airwaves.