Davis happy to keep rolling back the years

Six-time world champion Steve Davis
Six-time world champion Steve Davis
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HE’S been a professional snooker player for a staggering 34 years, but Steve Davis has no intention of giving up the game he loves.

Rather than sitting back and basking in his former glories, the six-time world champion is still entertaining audiences around the world with his skills around the table.

And with the Wyldecrest Park Homes World Seniors Championship to be staged at the Mountbatten Centre later this month, Portsmouth will be the next port of call as Davis bids to continue his pursuit of glory.

‘I enjoy the challenge of how long you can hang on for,’ he joked.

‘Me, Jimmy (White) and Tony Drago are still in there fighting. There’s only two or three from the 80s left.

‘The longer we can stay on for, the more of a challenge it is.’

It’s a challenge that the likes of fellow former world champion Stephen Hendry has decided to avoid, with the Scot announcing his retirement from the game back in May.

But sitting at number 50 in the current world rankings – up one place from last season – it suggests that even after turning 55 this year, Davis will be around for a while yet.

And he will be in Portsmouth from October 27-28, along with other stars from the past, as the city prepares to stage its first-ever major snooker tournament.

With matches being the best of three, it’s a tough competition to win.

Davis knows that better than most, after finishing runner-up in the event twice in the past two years.

But it’s one he clearly enjoys.

‘It’s quite a short format but that’s the fun of it, to be honest,’ he said.

‘The UK is a strange snooker market now because the game is going from strength to strength worldwide – it’s quite astonishing what’s happening.

‘It’s effectively broken free of the shores of the UK.

‘Very few people in the UK realise what’s happened abroad.

‘They think the game’s slowly dying.’

It’s getting a glimpse of star players of yesteryear – during the golden era of snooker – that Davis believes is why the seniors competition has become so successful.

‘The UK market has a nostalgia element to it,’ he said.

‘People will come out and sit and watch nostalgia, whereas they won’t necessarily watch the cutting edge of the game.

‘It’s a bit like how many music bands are coming out of retirement and reforming.

‘People won’t watch the new bands but will watch the old bands that have reformed.

‘I like the cutting-edge stuff. The standard of the top-class game is quite astonishing.

‘But I can honestly see why this seniors event works and it’s great to be a part of it.’

In the first round Davis faces Cliff Thorburn, whom he beat in the 1983 World Championship final at the Crucible.

Despite being two big names in the game, the pair have met only six times in competition, with Davis coming out on top on five of those occasions.

And with a shot clock at the event, does this mean Cliff – famed for his slow pace around the table – will struggle?

‘No’, insisted Davis, but he warned: ‘Cliff will have to get his rhythm boots on.’

He added: ‘I don’t think I’ve played Cliff for a long time now.

‘What he has got is a good sense of humour. He’s a good bloke – one of the funniest guys on the tour.

‘I’m sure he enjoys the challenge of it.’

Other stars on show include Dennis Taylor – who famously beat Davis on the final black in the 1985 World Championship final – as well as Jimmy White and last year’s winner, Welshman Darren Morgan.

It’s a tournament Davis admits he gets a lot of enjoyment out of.

‘It is a celebration of snooker,’ he said.

‘The people who come along, they’re sort of remembering what the game meant to them, really.

‘From that perspective I fully embrace it.

‘It’s nodding the tip of a hat to what snooker meant to them at another time in their life.’

n Tickets for the Wyldecrest Park Homes World Seniors Championship are on sale now, starting at just £10.

There are also some VIP packages available.

For more information, call (023) 9262 6509 or go to worldsnooker.com