Sport On TV: Davis repays vested interest of those on borrowed time
Saturday 17 December 2005
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.
Matt Smith is set to join cast of Jane Austen classic - with a twist
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
Latest in Sport
Nottingham Forest vs Fulham match report: Britt Assombalonga hat-trick deepens Felix Magath's gloom
Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal player ratings: How did Ozil and Welbeck do in Germany?
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Bayern Munich vs Manchester City player ratings: Joe Hart? Thomas Muller? Jerome Boateng? Who was the star man?
Chelsea vs Schalke player ratings: Cesc Fabregas? Didier Drogba? Klaas-Jan Huntelaar? Who was the star man?
- 2 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 3 'Necrophilia-obsessed' girl among double murder accused in three-way sex case
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: To work as part of the Le...
£100 - £110 per day + Travel scheme plus free professional trainnig: Randstad ...
£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Are you a qualified secondary...
£100 - £110 per day + Travel Scheme plus free professional training: Randstad ...