Snooker: The cue crusader who is Scene and heard but never ignored
Clive Everton has railed against authority but his boyish enthusiasm for the game remains
At his office near Halesowen, on the periphery of Birmingham, Clive Everton prepares the next issue of his magazine, Snooker Scene, a periodical which leaves neither perceived wrong unexamined – forensically so, as many of those whose wrath he has incurred would testify – nor any rightful cause unsupported in the sport. Hence, on this particular day, his mind happens to be attuned to Steve Davis and the case for an honour beyond the OBE the six-times world champion possesses.
Everton, whose rich tones grace the BBC's snooker coverage and whose journalism also appears on these pages, plans to run a reader's letter in the next issue which asks rhetorically: "Surely there's a case for Steve Davis to be knighted?" The commentator concurs. "That would be great for the sport, and not inappropriate in terms of what he's achieved," Everton says, still exuding, at 70, his enthusiasm for the game that first enraptured him as a schoolboy. "Steve Davis has been a great ambassador for the sport. It would give snooker a dignity and a positive image."
In truth, such qualities are not ones generally synonymous with professional snooker, as Everton concedes throughout the pages of his fascinating book entitled Black Farce and Cue Ball Wizards*; not only because some of its players have, over the years, been guaranteed to sate the red-top appetite for tales of sex, drugs and alcohol, but also because its administration has been too frequently exposed as flawed. In that exposure, Everton has played a highly significant and controversial part.
It troubles him that though "snooker will survive because it's a strong game", it has palpably failed to evolve profitably from the golden years of the 1980s and '90s. "Absolutely no provision was made for the end of tobacco sponsorship, which was signposted seven years in advance," he says. "We now have only seven world-ranking tournaments, plus the Masters. The knock-on effect is that the game's public profile is just about zero between those tournaments.
"The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association [the governing body] missed a terrific chance in 2002, when an offer from Altium, backed by Warburg Pincus [a City finance house] proposed nine world-ranking tournaments, plus the Masters, plus two big invitation events. The people at the centre of the governing body would not be involved, and they worked to defeat it. In the ensuing five years, that has caused the players to lose just over £9.5 million in prize money. It was a chance for a new start and a better financialfuture. But it was defeated by self-interest and stupidity."
Such sentiments are generated by his love for the game. "I've played a role in getting rid of some pretty pernicious regimes," he says of the WPBSA and certain chairmen and board members. "Their usual trick is to try to get the BBC to sack me, in an attempt to harm my credibility. Only once did it come close to that, in 1985. A BBC executive producer was persuaded to sack me. But my agent got on to Jonathan Martin [then head of sport], and I was reinstated."
Given his trenchant comment and unrelenting scrutiny, perhaps his tome should be entitled Cue the Crusader? "I've always had a passion for the game and I wanted to be a voice for reform. But as soon as you try to do that, people try and nail you," he says, alluding to the WPBSA's attempt to discipline him in 2005 over observations he made in Snooker Scene. Everton actually resigned, "but they still attempted to come after me for costs. They're determined to squash me and put me out of business." Not much chance of that, confronted by a character who is angered by "abuses of power" in any walk of life. "Mind you, it's a bit lonely sometimes."
* Published by Mainstream, £17.99
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
Dennis Rodman will coach the North Korea basketball team
Latest in Sport
Arsenal can surprise Bayern Munich in the Champions League, says former midfielder Gilberto Silva
Liverpool - January transfer targets
Transfer news: Liverpool - January transfer targets
Transfer news: Manchester United - January transfer targets
Transfer news: Arsenal - Transfer targets for January
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 4 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
£45000 - £55000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading prov...
£45000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Audit & Accounts - Top 50 ...
£27000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: One of the world's le...
£55000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A top independent London b...