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.
Latest in Sport
Leicester vs Arsenal match preview: Calm Calum can be an Arsenal star for years to come, says Per Mertesacker
Tottenham vs Liverpool preview: Spurs ready to press their case for Reds revenge
Burnley vs Manchester United match report: Louis van Gaal still winless after goalless draw at Turf Moor
Tottenham vs Liverpool match preview: I can get the best out of Mario Balotelli, says Brendan Rodgers
Everton vs Chelsea player ratings: Who was best in the nine-goal thriller at Goodison?
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 3 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 It's not just the savagery of Isis that is shocking – its weaponry is too
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...
£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...