“And as young Kevin Moffat comes to the table, he needs only one meatball to clinch the world snooker title…”
Kevin Moffat? Pah! Back in the day, I was the King of Snooker. The Queen of Snooker. Whatever. (Anyone remember Kevin Moffat??)
Such a satisfying sport/not a sport. Whatever.
Snooker’s heyday, from my perspective, was 1985. The final between Denis Taylor and Steve Davis was the most stressful and gripping sporting event I have ever watched. It was brilliant.
Also brilliant were Denis Taylor’s glasses. They had the legs coming out from the bottom of the frames so that they looked upside down. I, in response, had similar. (As I write, I am hoping and dreading finding a photo of them in equal measure… probably I have them on in one of my “girl Harry Potter” school photos.)
My snooker table was smaller than a regular pool table, but it did the job – and handily fitted in my bedroom at the time, although you did sometimes have to hold the cue at a weird angle so as not to hit a corner of wall.
The small table did mean that a disproportionate amount of breaks resulted in the white going straight in a pocket. At least, that was my excuse.
However, there were a lot of things to enjoy about the snooker table. The lovely cubes of smooth blue chalk that you could prep your cue with. The setting up of the balls, which I could already do before Chas and Dave hit out with their very helpful lyrics in May 1986:
“Pot the reds and screw back
For the yellow green brown blue pink and black”
Very satisfying was also getting “a plant” where two touching balls handily lined up with a pocket. Then, it didn’t matter what angle you hit the nearest ball to you at – the one nearer the pocket would go it. Magic.
Less great was the time I was lying on the floor looking at one of the snooker balls, enjoying its weight and shininess, then I dropped it on my face. Crack. Ouch. Not much you can do about gravity.
Having a snooker table was a pretty sociable thing. Where now, teenagers have to be in separate houses with a large TV and a console to “play together”, we spent hours and hours and hours and hours playing snooker.
This turned out to give me a handy transferrable skill as my gran’s neighbours had a pool table in their garage, so the holidays there were also spent setting up the balls, learning trick shots and trying to get better all the time.
Another transferrable skill was mental arithmetic – working out what your break was and never managing to get anywhere near the magic 147.
A full-size snooker table is a different thing though. Too big. Not a hope.
In time, though, the skills of snooker, pool and mental arithmetic that were so much of my life in the mid-eighties have all atrophied and disappeared without trace during the intervening thirty-five years or so. I can still count up Scrabble and Yahtzee scores alright, but, meh, numbers…
For my own children, the snooker table was brought out several times, over the years – taking over the living room for a few weeks at a time – but we didn’t use it during the whole pandemic so far, I don’t think – and I then figured we should probably move it on.
Hence the nostalgia.
It is kind of encouraging to think that, while I was going out of my mind watching Denis Taylor, so was the rest of the snooker-watching world. It was genuinely a great (very long) moment. I was an 80s kid, having a very 80s kid experience. I am glad I didn’t miss it.