Perrie Mans is 70 tomorrow.

The South African captured the Pot Black title in 1977, was runner-up to Ray Reardon in the 1978 World Championship, spent a season second in the world rankings (although at the time they were based only on performances in the World Championship) and won the Masters in 1979, beating Alex Higgins 8-4 in the final.

Famously, Mans won this title despite not making a half century all week, something that would be unimaginable today.

Mans was a great single ball potter but, obviously, positional play was not particularly his thing.

However snooker, like any sport, has evolved over time.

In Mans’s day, the cloths were heavier, the balls broke less easily and the conditions were not as conducive to break building as today where the players are treated to beautifully fast cloths.

But the game has changed as well because of a difference in approach.

Players such as Jimmy White and Stephen Hendry ushered in the new era of ultra attacking play which nearly all the modern day players now base their games around.

That’s why so many frames no longer begin with protracted safety exchanges but with a player attempting a long red and, if they get it, making a frame winning break.

John Spencer was once big enough to admit that he would need at least 21 start to compete with the players of the 1990s, although we’ll never know how the greats of previous eras would have adapted their games had they come into snooker at a different time.

In the current top 16, Mark King is not someone renowned for centuries but has much of the guile and ability to scrap out results that a player like Mans also possessed.

The truth is, you can’t judge a match or a performance solely on the breaks recorded. A frame in which a player makes two 40s counts the same as one in which he’s made 80.

Some younger players are yet to learn that you don’t have to win a frame in one visit.

Players like Ken Doherty and Peter Ebdon are prime examples of those who know when to attack and when to close up the shop and their longevity is testament to this.

John Higgins has arguably surpassed Steve Davis in the all round stakes as his tactical knowledge is strong and he also scores heavily.

As for Mans, he did little of note after his Masters win, although he did beat Steve Davis at Wembley in 1981. He retired from the circuit in 1987.


Betty Logan said...

Just like in any discipline, the conditions, techniques and knowledge have advanced. The average pro knows how to play the game better than say Reardon in the 70s, but it doesn't mean to say he's better at applying the techniques and knowledge at his disposal though.

My personal view is that the players at the top of any era were at the top for a reason, and that's because they learned to play the game better than everyone else. Put them in any era and exactly the same thing will happen again. Let's face it, Steve Davis is what, maybe 35%-40% the player he was and he's still made two world championship quarter-finals in the last five years!

kildare cueman said...

Betty I'd say the average player wouldn't know how to play the game better than Reardon.

He had it all. Potting, safety, breakbuilding, ability to play under pressure.

When Reardon came into the game he quickly rose to the top, just like Davis and Hendry did later.

He adapted to take on and beat the worlds best, despite trying to eke out a living from exhibitions, and doing his own bookings, travel arrangements etc.

The game has evolved since then, but there is no evidence to suggest that if the 1970's players were to have the advantage of coaching, matchplay and TV coverage that todays players have, that they wouldn't be as good or better.

Anonymous said...

I recall Alex Higgins obituaries and references to him making perhaps 45 centuries in match play in his 25 year long career. I forget and don't really focus on it too much but is Hendry not on 600-700 after give or take a similar career at this stage. So the difference in the table and the way the game was played must as stated be an issue. I can't really recall the details but did Mark Williams win his first ranking title in 1996-1997 or 1998 without really making very many high breaks- possibly without getting a century? However it would be unheard of now not to get over a 50. Mans may still have an equipment co in Joburg. It is a while since I saw a whatever happened to feature involving him.

Dave H said...

Mark won the 1996 Welsh Open with a highest break of something like 76

Redandblackblog said...

I think Mark Williams is a slightly different entity in that he deliberately didn't continue the breaks once the frame got to the point of no return. I'm sure he made plenty of sixty/seventy breaks during that event.

Betty Logan said...

I actually said that the top players of any era would probably become the top players of any era, Kildare, but Reardon playing the game as he did in 1974 wouldn't cut it against today's players because the shot selection has changed so much. If you take Reardon from 74 and Mike Dunn from yesterday, Dunn would call the correct shot more often I believe.

Bryn said...

Perrie Mans was,in additional to his amazing potting skills, a great battler who disorientated opponents and had a sound safety game. He was also a very nice chap who would fit very nicely with a guest appearance in the Legends Tour ....

Hint hint ....

jamie brannon said...

I think Davis is superior to Higgins tactically, but John is the heavier scorer. However, Davis is closer in this category to John, so would still slightly lean to Steve in the all round stakes.

The fact that Willie Thorne hit 126 centuries, the majority in the 1980's underlines what an under acheiver he was.

Anonymous said...

Reardon would thrash Dunn even today in my opinion. Sorry Betty, don't agree with you there.

Betty Logan said...

Sorry I just don't buy it. Reardon was in his 40s when he was at his peak, and you show me a player in this day and age that can dominate at that age - not Davis, not Hendry and most likely not O'Sullivan. Even a mid 40s Davis in tune with the 21st century game struggled against journeymen pros. Even Hendry is being taken out more and more by them. These are players who play the modern game. Take a mid 40s Reardon at his peak playing as he did in the 70s and he would fed through the mincer. The reason they had such longevity back then was because the game didn't make the same demands on concentration and long-potting. For Reardon to compete today he would have to develop a much more aggressive game, and more importantly he would have to come to the professional game as a 20 year old rather than a 35 year old. There is no logic backing up why you think Reardon would be a force to be reckoned with while Davis and Hendry at that age seriously struggle.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy White was one of the first of the new breed of breakbuilders yet he couldn't beat Reardon.
Explain Betsy

Betty Logan said...

It was much harder to get the balls into open play until the faster cloths were introduced, so the thicker cloths placed much more emphasis on the tactical side of the game. If the modern players played on 70s and early 80s cloths then there would be a much more even balance between tacticians and break builders. Steve Davis loses because he can't produce frame winning breaks anymore on a regular basis, but if you made the conditions so the younger players can't - such as what Jimmy was faced with - then you'd level the playing field. But if you can't produce frame winning clearances regularly then you won't win titles nowadays, and that's why I don't think the older players of the 70s at their peaks would make much impact.

Anonymous said...

Betty, whos to say that the older players wouldn't make those framewinning breaks if they were playing under todays conditions?

Anonymous said...


betsy is entitled to that opinion

no matter how widely shared that view is, it cant be bolstered by facts and so its as silly to shoot down as it is to support.

kildare cueman said...

If you look at the careers of all great champions, you will notice that (1).They quickly reached the standard of the best in the world, and (2).They added their own style/shots and raised the standard higher.

We can hypothesise til the cows come home, but by applying that theory it must be assumed that Reardon, and Davis would have continued to improve until they reached the top level, at any time in the games' history.

Betty Logan said...

I'd love to see a tournament on 1974 style cloths, and see how the break-builders would cope. I bet it would be won by a Higgins, Doherty, Selby or Dott since most frames would be decided tactically. A thick cloth event could be snooker's Roland Garros.

Anonymous said...

Good idea Betty. Maybe they should have had the world seniors like that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Betty,

My logic is simple: Dunn could barely pot a ball in the World Open.