As shocking as it may seem the 1980s are
fast becoming historical times for the game of Snooker, the players of this era
are considered by the youngsters in the clubs to be from a totally different
Names like Doug Mountjoy, Terry Griffiths and
David Taylor are rarely mentioned in conversations around the bar on a match
night at your local club I suggest.
I have a video of Doug Mountjoy making a break
of 145 in the World Championship in 1981, the year he reached the final and
played against the emerging talent Steve Davis.
This break is an epic in terms of Doug
triumphing over adversity in a playing sense, towards the end of the break.
Doug was unfortunate with three positional shots slightly kissing reds that he
intended to pot into the top pockets and after the kiss only having a shot
available into the baulk pockets.
This break was a lesson to all those people who
get annoyed when they lose position and need to look for an alternative shot;
Doug stayed focussed and as you may have gathered, cleared the table.
It amuses me to hear people saying that the
players of even ten years ago would have been no match for the players of
today, when you look at Doug Mountjoys break in the 1981
Terry Griffiths was another Welsh player with a
great deal of ability, imagine working in a variety of jobs before turning
professional and then winning the world championship at his very first attempt.
Terry overcame some of the biggest names in the game at the time and came up
against the very experienced Dennis Taylor, in the final. The pressure on Terry
towards the end must have been tremendous even though he was the underdog
because he was so near to achieving his goal.
Terry played that year as though he was in
practise or so it appeared to me as a television viewer, I think that this
achievement overshadowed the rest of Terrys career to a degree. He did
however make it to the final of the world championship nine years later, losing
to Steve Davis.
David Taylor was another fine player throughout
the 1970s and early 1980s; he reached one major final to my
knowledge and played really well losing 9-7 to Tony Knowles.
I remember a story that I read about an antique
dealer in Manchester getting hold of an old cue and offering it to David
Taylor. David took the cue to try and found that he played very well with it,
after a while he returned to the dealer and asked, if he could buy it? The
owner said "no, you keep the cue and I hope that it does you proud", the cue
was I am told a Burwat Champion and David won many matches with it. I would
imagine that the cues original owner would have been delighted that it
went to someone capable of getting the most from it.
I know that break building is at a high point in
modern play, but still remember the achievements of the players from the past.
These players seemed more well rounded as characters, having worked in other
avenues prior to devoting all of their energies to Snooker. Perhaps learning
about family and sacrifice made them seem more human than the players of
Steve Davis was for me the most obviously
self-developed purpose built Snooker player, he groomed himself for the top and
with his manager Barry Hearn created a new mould for the emerging players to
Steve and his manager arranged challenge matches
against the worlds top players before Steve ever turned professional.
This strategy enabled them to assess the opposition and develop the game needed
to beat them, allied to an ability to dedicate himself completely to the game;
this became a winning game plan.
This method was repeated with even greater
success by Ian Doyle with Stephen Hendry, It sometimes seems that running the
second four minute mile is a little easier as the psychological barrier has
It is interesting to note that Steve Davis has
been given more nicknames than any other player in the years that followed his
greater on table success, such as:
- The Ginger Magician
- Golden Balls
- The Romford Robot
- Steve "Interesting" Davis
- The Nugget
- Romford Slim
- The Plumstead Potter
- The Guvnor
- Stevie D
- The Essex Executioner
And so on.
Steve Davis and Barry Hearn also travelled the
world in an attempt to promote both Steve, and the game to as wide an audience
as possible. It seems to me that the efforts of these two individuals is at
least partly responsible for the positive aspects of Snookers popularity
abroad. I have a book that was published in Belgium, the first player to appear
in this book that I recognised was almost inevitably Steve Davis.
When people compare the records of both Steve
Davis and Stephen Hendry they neglect to mention, that Steve Davis has won one
more UK championship and that Stephen has won One more world championship
title. It seems to me that there is very little to choose between their records
over all, Steve Davis has appeared in eight world finals as has Stephen Hendry,
Steve last one of his finals by less than seven points.
The main thing is that they both stand head and
shoulders above the chasing pack like giants of the modern era.