This season is Stephen Hendry’s 26th as a professional and his 23rd in succession as a member of the elite top 16.

It could also be the campaign that tells us whether his career in the top flight is set to continue or whether his days are numbered.

There is certainly no disgrace in being ranked 11th at the age of 41 but I suspect Stephen doesn’t derive much pleasure from now being a member of the supporting cast after so many years in the starring role.

He is snooker’s greatest ever champion and, like all born winners, wants to keep on winning.

In fact, it’s now five years since his last ranking title and almost four since his last ranking final.

Hendry’s essential problem is that all of the players above him in the rankings have copied how he played in his heyday but they are now playing it better than him.

When Steve Davis began to drop down the list he changed his game and became much more tactical, happy to scrape wins rather than try and pot his opponents off the table.

Hendry has never been a fan of safety play and frames that get drawn out and is still playing the same game as he always did, just with less success.

I know he hates people saying he isn’t as good as he once was but the evidence of the last two years suggests that this is the case.

It is hard for any player to accept this but especially difficult for an all time great.

It took Davis a number of years to come to terms with the fact that Hendry had overtaken him as snooker’s dominant force. When he did he relaxed and did not put himself under pressure trying to force results.

And then, out of nowhere and with little personal expectation, he won the Wembley Masters in 1997.

Since then Davis has put together several memorable performances, defying Old Father Time. He reached the 2004 Welsh Open final, the 2005 UK Championship final and, of course, beat John Higgins in the second round of last season’s Betfred.com World Championship.

In the same tournament Hendry struggled past young Zhang Anda before suffering a heavy defeat to Mark Selby.

His aura of invincibility is now gone. His performances of late have even seen him dropped from the Premier League.

But I think it’s dangerous to write him off completely. Truly great players in any sport have a tendency to, as the old cliché puts it, roll back the years every now and again.

It’s entirely conceivable Hendry could win tournaments in the future but I don’t think he will until he accepts he is no longer as strong a player as he was at his remarkable peak.

What he needs is an injection of self belief. I don’t know if Hendry feels the new Players Tour Championship is beneath him but it is actually an ideal chance to rebuild confidence.

There’s nobody watching, if he loses he can point to the short format but it’s matches against good players and will toughen up his game more than by playing alone in his snooker room.

Furthermore, if he misses many more PTC events his ranking position will suffer and it may be that he will have to go to the Academy in Sheffield – to qualify for tournaments.

In such a scenario, Hendry may prefer a dignified retirement. If that happens he will hang up his cue safe in the knowledge that his career has been more successful than any other player in the modern age.

But I sense he isn’t ready to give up just yet.


Anonymous said...

he is one of the two true legends still playing pro snooker, the other being Steve D.

an absolute gentleman on and off the table.

he is a pleasure to both know and to be a fan of also.

more ruthless on the table than any player when at his peak!

kildare cueman said...

The first thing that starts to go with mature pros is their long and middle distance potting.

This happened with Reardon, Davis, and is now happening with Hendry and to a lesser extent, O'Sullivan.

I think it will be more detrimental with Hendry, as potting, along with unshakable temperament were his big assets

Davis, and more recently Higgins and O'Sullivan all have superb tactical games and tight cueball control, which enables them to compete when not playing well.

Hendry, while by no means a slouch in the other departments, continues to rely on potting, which he can no longer do.

Ray said...

In my humble opinion I still think Stephen Hendry can win a few more tournaments. But there has to be a lot of pride-swallowibg and ego cast aside.
The magical attacking mode of play he employed at the height of his career hasn't worked for many years now. I am going to be bold and suggest (with the knowledge that all great champions are only interested in winning) that he visits the Master i.e. Frank Callan again and asks him what style of game he should employ to make him a winner again. Callan did it for Doug Mountjoy many years ago.
He may struggle and no doubt sacrifices will have to be made but hard work has never been a problem for Stephen Hendry. I'm sure he will do anything to be a winner again but he won't achieve it by continuing to play the same game as he has employed throughout his career to date.

Anonymous said...

well said!

jamie brannon said...

He won't think the PTC is beneath him as he participated in the Championship League. I feel we will see him have one more significant run in a tournament, but he won't be at the same level as Steve Davis at 52 as he hasn't got the relish for tactical game as the 'nugget'. Plus, he won't develop the hunger for it as it his not in his nature and there is nothing you can do about it.

The next generation have copied his style but in general none of them are as proficient as him.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Is Hendry involved with O'Sullivan and the Power Snooker next week?

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...


An excellent assesment of Hendry.
All these one offs on the top players have been very readable,and in my view,very accurate!
Good stuff Dave.Best snooker blog out there.

CHRISK5 said...

78 Career Titles,36 Ranking Titles,
7 World Titles & ofcourse,just for Jamie ....747 centuries !

Hendry is a legend & has nothing more to prove.

If he were to comeback to some kind of form & win titles or
stick around doggedly like Davis,
that would be great - if not,
he has already achieved everything he set out to do & much more.

While he remains in the Top 16,
I think he will continue to perceveire - beyond that,who knows.

He could try & develop a more allround game - as his aggressive potting/breakbuilding isn't at a high enough level to win
the major prestige titles anymore.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Dave
Your introduction and comments about Stephen Hendry are in generalities are right but uncompleted as the main reason for the halt sign is “Vanity”.
What player of proven ability like Mr Hendry can ask or “Shout for Help” especially “Please Help”.

Stephen is having trouble with his “A” game and hopes that “Good Form” like Lady Luck will suddenly appear.
If and when Stephen gets the magic words or formula, the retort after a minute s thought will be “I’ve always known that but just forgot”.

Snooker players are a strange form of animaloy! And no self respecting ton up player would take advice from a mere ninety nine break player. Mr Hey You.

kimball said...

Does not really agree with your analyse Dave.

Who are the good longpotters those
Williams, Robertson, Carter (in form nr.1!) and maybe Junhui and Selby.

Murphy,Higgins and O'Sullivan are
defenitely struggling.

Except for Higgins and Junhui, I can not see any player with the same kind of game/rythm as Hendry.

Hendry has tried to play absolutely
tactical, call it his B-game for the whole of last season.

Nobody is better in the tactical
and defensive game, but yes it bores him.

The 147 against Murphy was magic,
maybe a last burst from the best
matchplayer ever.

Top 16 for 23 years? I would prefer to say top 11 for all of his
career since 17 yrs old.

Dave H said...

Hendry joined the top 16 when he was 19

kimball said...

Thank,s Dave.
I took a wild guess:-)

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr Kildare, Hello Dave

How are you both! Without sounding obscure Mr K the art of “Potting Balls” should not be judged on middle distance, long and short “Pots”.

The exact same “Aiming Procedure” or branch of technique should be deployed for all shots. The so called “Easy Pots” Sir from close up is seeing and using correctly the tolerance in the pocket size.

Middle distance and long pots don’t afford this tolerance luxury therefore both need a different line of thought and another branch of technique.

The game is in its infancy Mr K and sadly all “Non Easy Potting” is luck and habits acquired by (Sometimes) thoughtless but constant practice sessions.

A point to note Mr K! Every player has experienced from the Dee knocking the blue ball in all morning, and failing the shot all evening. Mr Hey You

John McBride said...

In one of his World final wins over his great sporting rival of the 90's Jimmy White, I was involved in a Kalooki school with this final on. Jimmy White broke off in the first frame, Stephen Hendry (The Great One), comes to the table & knocks in a 136 total clearance. First shot, in the first frame, & he does that. It took an awful lot to stop our games of Kalooki, which didn't happen very often, but on that Sunday afternoon, we watched on in awe.

Stephen Hendry? The Man has to go down as 'The Great One' in my book.

Anonymous said...

No doubt, John Mcbride.
All players have memorable moments of greatness, but Hendry had dozens. Theres been nothing like him, before or since.

Anonymous said...

i do not know if you are slightly retarded mr hey you, but this is a blog post for comments on Stephen Hendry and NOT the fine art rubbish nobody cares about method!!

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr Plugger
Thanks again for the plug! Hello Dave
How are you both! Mr Kildare’s remarks on “Long Potting” opened the door to this thread and deserved an answer Sir though not asked or called for by our Irish friend.

I am sure some keen student understood and appreciated this “New knowledge” on the art of the long and middle distance potting.

While on the subject of technique Mr X. Snooker practice should have “Purpose” not a means of acquiring “Good habits” that may substitute for skill. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

Snooker © Anyone Can Teach Anyone Snooker and DM can do nowt about it.

....and yet more off topic sh1te from hey you

dave, this guy does nothing for your blog!!

(before you say i do not either, i usually post constructive and on topic posts to your blogs, but this guy just wastes peoples time and posts utter tripe, much to the frustration of the high majority of your loyal readers)

shooting games said...

During my early age i enjoyed playing Billiards not snookers, can someone differentiate this two sport to me so i can understand it well.

Amyrogers said...

I am just wondering what kind of rules that the snookers have? because i don't have any idea about this game not like Billiards.