Snooker: The people's grouch | Sport | The Guardian
As Steve Davis slips into sporting retirement he can reflect on a life well lived "I did start out as a nerd and Alex Higgins was this frightening character. was happy to market Davis as an automaton, crushing the fearful and the feckless in his path. Every player has a love-hate relationship with snooker. Steve Davis, OBE (born 22 August ) is an English retired professional snooker player from . In October, Davis won the Grand Prix, beating Alex Higgins 10–6 in the final to hold the World, UK, .. considering it a "Mickey Mouse game" because of its undersized cue ball in relation to the other balls, Marketing Week. Great Sporting Moments: Dennis Taylor defeats Steve Davis at the Crucible Snooker as a mass-market sport reached its peak that night, in one match, in one such as Alex "Hurricane" Higgins and Jimmy "The Whirlwind" White. Davis beat Neal Foulds (), David Taylor (no relation, ).
His highly unusual cueing technique sometimes included a body swerve and movement, as well as a stance that was noticeably higher than that of most professionals. The unorthodox play of Higgins was encapsulated in his break of 69, made under unusual pressure, against Jimmy White in the penultimate frame of their World Professional Snooker Championship semi-final in Higgins was 0—59 down in that frame, but managed to compile an extremely challenging clearance during which he was scarcely in position until the colours.
In particular, former world champion Dennis Taylor considers a three-quarter-ball pot on a blue into the green pocket especially memorable, not only for its extreme degree of difficulty but for enabling Higgins to continue the break and keep White off the table and unable to clinch victory at that moment.
He went a little too far for ideal position on his next red but the match-saving break was still alive. A volatile personality got him into frequent fights and arguments, both on and off the snooker table.
One of the most serious of these clashes was when he head-butted a tournament official at the UK championship in This, added to his having threatened to have fellow player and compatriot Dennis Taylor shot, led to a ban for the whole of the following season.
Outside snooker[ edit ] At the time of his triumph at the World Championship, Higgins had no permanent home and by his own account had recently lived in a row of abandoned houses in Blackburn which were awaiting demolition.
In one week he had moved into five different houses on the same street, moving down one every time his current dwelling was demolished. Higgins's first marriage was to Cara Hasler in April in Sydney. They had a daughter Christel  and divorced. His second marriage was to Lynn Avison in The clearance of 69 on his way to a win over White is widely regarded as one of the finest, a totem of the times, at the Crucible before he usurped Reardon in the final. There is a pot on the blue to a baulk bag when he has made only 13 which is particularly fearsome.
In days of heavier balls and slower clothes, Higgins shaped the table against the odds with more bottle than a glassblower. There were about four shots he played that were amazing. His name was on the trophy that year. Did it cost me the World Championship? At that time I didn't care if I won or lost because I was having such fun. In andI went to Australia to play in the amateur World Championship which cost me two years of experience at the Crucible.
Maybe it was meant to be because I'm still playing now.
Steve Davis: Retired snooker great says life 'like living in a big holiday camp' - BBC Sport
We toured the Middle East together, and I loved him as a guy. He could be quite eccentric: But that is the enigma of Alex Higgins. I loved him, and I thought his snooker was unbelievable.
What does such a term mean? From what we can detect, it means you are popular because you are more interested in entertaining than winning. You are a man of the people because you give the people what they want. Higgins and White, who won the world doubles title together inwere have-a-go heroes, and crowd pleasers who loved a slice of life away from the machinations of the sport, but White is best remembered for losing six world finals, one to Steve Davis inone to John Parrott in and another four to Stephen Hendry in, and Alex Higgins remains a national hero in Northern Ireland.
Not only is he popular with the public because of his voracious instinct to attack, but he is an out-and-out winner to encourage the theory that he is the greatest player to lift a cue.
He made snooker what it was, and turned snooker players into rock stars. Looking back at it, if there was one player responsible for making snooker big in the s, it was definitely Alex Higgins. I think people gravitated towards Alex Higgins, he was a showman, he had something about him: The audience would feed off that. It was sad in a way because he shouldn't have gone through that. Alex was master of his own downfall in many ways, but in many ways that's why you loved him because there no compromise.
- Night my hero let me down
- Steve Davis
- Alex Higgins's popularity down to 'rare magnetism', says Steve Davis
He was anti-establishment, living life by Alex's rules. I admire that in a human. I spent time with him when I was only 16 in Blackpool. I practised with him at the time, and I used to run out to get him a Guinness. I loved it at the time. It gave me a buzz. Everybody wanted to get him a Guinness, but he chose me.
I remember watching him. He would say to the referee Len Ganley in those little cubicles in Blackpool when he was trying to play: He terrorised people, but thrived on it. He got a buzz out of it. I kind of copied his technique a little bit. He was a bit like the Ding Junhui on the shot, very compact, solid technique.
He had a few bad habits where he moved on the shot, but he tended to move after the shot. He was a very good ball striker. If you had the option of going on a bender with Higgins or Davis, there would only be one winner.
Davis was deemed to own the title deeds to boredom, his willingness to play safe representative of his perceived character deficiencies. I wasn't going past 12 o'clock at night and the glass of hot milk before I went to bed was considered to be my drink of choice.
Prone to moments of brilliance and bedlam, Higgins was feted by the public because of his seemingly carefree attitude to life. Especially at the Masters in London. But it didn't make him likeable. Higgins was viewed as the moral winner, and a genuine force of nature amid the saturated coverage.
It is a phenomenon that the erudite cue sports commentator and writer Phil Yates, who began covering snooker incontributing heavily to The Times, continues to find baffling.
Just a normal working class bloke who by the majority of the people watching was demonised and victimised as being the baddie. On the other hand, you had someone who had every fault in the book, and every character flaw going, who was lionised and loved by the public. Would that happen anywhere else? What was coming into play was the underdog factor because everybody respected Davis and realised how good he was. Why was the good guy not perceived as the good guy?
Apart from pure snooker, I always wonder why was that the case? The bad boy-good boy divide was huge between those two. How can you relate to a robot?
Night my hero let me down - senshido.info
I'd rather have a drink with Idi Amin. Not bad for a robot. Up north, Higgins appeared to be heading south as he trailed to his foe. In the same year, he had been largely outclassed by Davis in the semi-finals of the World Championship. Yet Higgins somehow managed to rally, winning eight of the next nine frames to level at He moved clear, but trailed before trousering the final two frames to the delight of his public. There are dates that tend to stand out in your childhood.
Such was the popularity of snooker, this onlooker recalls standing as a kid at a football match between Morton and Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League when the tannoy announcer felt the need to let the fans know Davis led Higgins in the UK final. Davis would find revenge with a win, but it was suspected the scars of losing a lead were a precursor for a bigger sense of dismay further down the line when he blew an advantage in losing the World Championship final to Taylor.
It was a contest full of ebb and flow watched by It remains a source of wonderful misery for Davis, who ironically earned more goodwill in defeat than any victory could have garnered. In parts of the UK, he was also desperately more unpopular than her.
Like Thatcher, Davis was very much an emblem of the UK establishment while Higgins railed against authority.
It was all utter nonsense of course, but why let the truth spoil a good pantomime. When Higgins stepped out at the Wembley Conference Centre for their match at the Masters in the round of 16, he was cheered into the venue with more fanfare then the boxer Frank Bruno.
Local lad Davis was roundly booed in a match he would lose after making a blunder on the final blue. Higgins would enjoy only one more win over Davis, in the last four of the Irish Masters later that year, before suffering 11 defeats out of their final 12 matches. There was a draw in league format match in when both made two centuries.
Davis was a much heavier scorer and more of a power player. Higgins had no right to beat Davis, but Higgins was a magician with a terrific knowledge of the table.
He was a genius. Behind the decks the man himself is in a state of ecstasy.
Blood On The Carpet: How Higgins and Davis made modern snooker
Never mind the earplugs. No surprise that the first album he bought was In Deep, by 70s' prog rockers Argent. Davis doesn't do things by halves. Snooker, music, it's all an obsession.
Shyness, as Morrissey once noted, can stop you from doing all the things in life you'd like to. Try telling Davis that.
Steve Davis: Retired snooker great says life 'like living in a big holiday camp'
As he slips into sporting retirement at the age of 58, he can reflect on a life well lived and look forward to a grand old life to come. Davis describes his youthful diffidence as almost an affliction. But the cerebral sport of snooker first provided a sanctuary before becoming his stage. Media playback is not supported on this device Steve Davis: World's most unlikely DJ? I was a nobody until someone put a cue in my hands, when I suddenly became a somebody. That was quite a turn-on.
That someone being his old man, Bill, an average snooker player but a stickler for fundamentals and detail. We didn't know anything about positional play or tactics, so I just worked on technique. And those basic rules my father instilled in me still hold today: I was a bit of a control freak, so snooker was perfect for me. I was fascinated by the idea of having control over the balls. And when I started winning tournaments, it became even more exciting and even more of an obsession.
Fighting Talk Goes Snooker Loopy Steve Davis won the first of his world titles in starting a decade of dominance When Davis saw French art rockers Magma at the Camden Roundhouse in the mids, it "blew his mind". The really interesting thing about Davis is that he was always more interesting than people thought.
Magma sing in an invented language called Kobaian, have released 10 concept albums and perform 'space operas'. Back then, they made Genesis look like The Carpenters.
But it says a lot about Davis' obsession with snooker that music became his mistress and punk passed him by completely.
All of a sudden this esoteric table game was a television sensation and Davis one of its biggest stars. And that person effectively mapped out my life for me. God knows what I would have been otherwise.