Monday, 1 May 2017


Today is the final day of the snooker; this evening either Mark Selby or John Higgins will be world champion for 2017. Despite blanket coverage on TV, over 17 days, I haven’t seen any of the play. But back in 1985 I was on a ferry, returning from Ireland, and the TV room was full of people watching the final of the snooker. Half of the ferry passengers were cheering for Steve Davis, representing England, while the other half were cheering Dennis Taylor who, with his upside-down glasses, represented Ireland. We weren’t the only ones watching; the match attracted a record TV audience of 18.5 million.

It was a lively scene - and standing room only - in the TV room of the ferry, as the match went this way and that. The contest was still undecided when the ferry docked at Hollyhead, where we were told, over the tannoy, that we had to disembark. Except the viewers weren’t going anywhere. Eventually the captain came into the room and said we had to leave. We shouted him down and, wisely, he let us stay on board. He sat down with us to watch the last few frames.

The match stood at 17 frames apiece, with one last - deciding - frame to play. Amazingly the last frame turned out to be a black ball game. Steve Davis missed a black he would have got 99 times out of 100, leaving Dennis Taylor to pot it. He hoisted his cue, waggled his finger, did a little dance and kissed the trophy. The Irish viewers were ecstatic, and the rest of us could reflect on the fact that we’d just watched one of the great sporting contests. It was way after midnight when everyone drove off the ferry and into the night...

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