Sport On TV: Davis repays vested interest of those on borrowed time

The 1980s were terrible, really. Thatcher, the Falklands and the end of the miners; pushed-up jacket sleeves and puffball skirts; Heysel, Bhopal, Chernobyl, Hillsborough; Tight Fit... And throughout the decade, save for the occasional blip on the graph, Steve Davis kept on winning the World snooker championship. We loved the blips and rather resented the rest, I seem to remember.

We liked him more when he stopped winning, and now he's nearly 50, and he and I are both almost certainly in the second half of our lives, I feel I have a vested interest in his doing well, as if his potency and virility were opening up possibilities for the rest of us "young middle-aged", or whatever we're called these days.

Which has made this week rather satisfying. "If Steve's knocking in long ones, it's fair to say everyone's in trouble," Neal Foulds said on BBC2 as Davis busied himself with beating Ken Doherty in the quarter-finals of the UK Championship, in defiance of the girl wearing the "Steve Davis looks like my dad" T-shirt.

He'd played so blisteringly on Tuesday to beat Stephen Maguire, he even impressed himself, saying, "That was the best match I've been involved in for ages, if not ever in some respects," (he is a snooker tactician, after all, not a syntactician).

Age withers, as we know, and I was slow off the mark in picking up on his extraordinary resurgence, not tuning in until his quarter-final against Doherty on Wednesday. I was rewarded, if you can call it that, with a 52min 38sec largely tactical opening frame. As it passed the 40-minute mark, having been potless for 20 minutes, I was willing them to finish. At the end, Davis sprinted out for a toilet break. I think we all did.

Doherty did his best to wrap Davis up in safety play, but "Interesting" was having none of it, even indulging in a bit of fist-pumping. "Look at his reaction!" Dennis Taylor cried in the commentary box. "You don't see that from Steve Davis very often! He's really psyched up!" After he'd finally disposed of Doherty, having let him back in the match for a while, Davis spoke to John Parrott, who asked him how he does it.

"I don't know," he said. "I feel a bit guilty because I don't pay the price as much as I should do. I don't practise as much, I don't necessarily approach it the same way I used to. I think I've tried to take the heat off the need to win, so I treat it a bit like a hobby.

"I'm on borrowed time in the game, but I'm probably getting by on a bit of nous, a bit of guile, and a bit of competitive instinct." So the secret is to relax, as a certain iconic 80s band recommended, though they weren't talking about snooker.

But still, a certain decline is in evidence. "When you get older, your body doesn't handle the pressure well. And you cannot change that - you can keep fit, but somewhere down the line, the balls you used to pot all of a sudden become problems. So I feel like I'm hanging on in there by my fingertips." But what fingertips. Steve Davis, I love you.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there