IT’S SNOOKER’S VERSION of Dad’s Army for the next two days as the game’s golden oldies take part in the Betway World Seniors Championship in Blackpool.
However, they aren’t quite as senior this year as the age limit has been dropped to players who are 40 by the end of the season. This means a place for Mark Williams – 40 later this month – who is invited by right as a former world champion. Former winners of the seniors title are also seeded through, with five other players having come through qualifying.
First, Williams has to get himself from Gdynia to Blackpool, not a straightforward journey, for a match against Darryn Walker on Monday night.
The Welshman is probably favourite for the title but the formbook is negated by the format, with all matches just best of three frames. A longer format would have been preferred by all involved but this is the real world with its realities: Sky Sports only want to show it for two days before launching into the Shootout on Wednesday.
The World Seniors Championship offers a chance to honour some of the players who created the interest which has helped sustain the circuit and enrich many of those who came after them.
Steve Davis (winner last year), Jimmy White, John Parrott, Cliff Thorburn, Dennis Taylor and Joe Johnson are all names from the 1980s UK snooker boom.
Ken Doherty, Williams and Peter Ebdon became world champions in their wake. Fergal O’Brien, Darren Morgan and Dominic Dale have all won TV titles.
With short matches adding to pressure and much of the field past their best, this event does not always serve up the highest standard of snooker but the seniors deserve their day in the sun.
The current circuit is thriving but there is nothing wrong with paying respect to the past and the players who provided so much entertainment and drama when snooker hit the TV big time.
Photographs by Monique Limbos.