http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/sport/local ... he_Nugget/
SIX-TIME world champion Steve Davis paid a visit to Weymouth at the weekend and talked exclusively to Adam Summers about his 33 years in the sport.
Steve, you have been a pro in the game now for 33 years, how has it evolved during that time?
From a playing perspective, the general standard has become more consistent with higher scores being made per visit. You can see that from the break-building statistics.
The technique of the players has also improved and they have become a lot more professional. There is also a lot more strength in depth.
Things have also changed in the world. Television is a very different animal now and snooker is scrambling to find its place along with so many other things.
I also don’t think the future of the game is in the UK. There are more opportunities and excitement in other parts of the world, which is nice, but the grand old days of snooker in the 1980s are unlikely to ever come back.
People often say there are no characters in the game anymore. What is your take on that suggestion?
Things have changed a lot in terms of how we perceive a character. Just look at Big Brother for example.
The people that were on the first series were very different to the ones they have had in recent years and that is because the world has gone into desensitised mode.
To be a character on television now, you have to almost be a misfit or a little off the wall.
There are still characters in the game but the only thing stopping them being recognised as much is the fact that from tournament to tournament you don’t see the same eight players reaching the quarter- finals all the time due to the strength and depth in the modern game.
How important is physical fitness and mental conditioning in the modern game?
Today’s players are more professional and do work on their fitness but as yet they haven’t gone down the road of “my body is a temple” like a lot of other sports.
As for the mental side of the game, I think that grows the further you go up the ladder. If you have a problem in that department then psychologically you are probably not going to make it.
Some players have gone down the route of employing mind coaches but more often than not that is only a short-term thing, as there is not enough money in the game for them to feed off.
What do you think of Power Snooker and Shootout Snooker, which have recently been introduced to try and attract more interest in the game?
I do not think the product of snooker is broken. It’s just Sky like to think they have got a different audience to the BBC and some of the powers that be think they have got to do something different.
Those people make decisions on what they think people want but although Sky has snooker, in my mind, it is just novelty snooker.
Having a shot clock doesn’t make the game more entertaining be-cause I believe it does not work on speed, it works on tension and a storyline.
I understand that they have an audience to satisfy and some of the competitions are okay However, I would like to think that Sky will soon show have a proper snooker tournament.
How important is Ronnie O’Sullivan’s popularity to the future of the game?
I think that is short-term because if he does not maintain his interest in the game then the need for him will quickly evaporate.
However, should he be the complete article and 100 per cent then the sport will no doubt fully embrace him.
He has been in the game a long time and he has motivation problems, so whatever he decides in terms of his career, you have to respect. However, snooker will work worldwide with or without him, although it would definitely be much nicer with him involved.
What impact has the betting scandal involving John Higgins had on the sport?
Anything that brings these things out in the open can only be good.
Every sport has its own rules in place and with online betting procedures as well, I think fixing is harder than ever because trends and trails can soon be picked up.
As for the case with John Higgins, it was another situation that occurred in the game that had not even happened. Instead, it was just about someone having agreed to do something in the future.
I think the whole thing was more about entrapment and whether newspapers should be creating the news or reporting on it. But again, that is just my opinion.
Who is the best player of all time?
I think John Higgins is the best player the game has ever had. I also think Stephen Hendry is a phenomenal winner, and that Ronnie O’Sullivan is the biggest genius in the game.
Those three have been astonishing in terms of their levels of performance but as I said there are a lot of other good players around at the moment as well.
Looking back at your career, what moments stand out the most?
I think one of my favourite moments was beating defending champion John Higgins in the World Championships last year, although beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of UK Masters in 1997 also ranks very high too.
I like to live in the short-term and the present, so I suppose of my more recent memories, reaching the quarter-finals of the World Championships last year was the biggest buzz.
It was just a shame I had one bad session against Neil Robertson, which eventually saw me go out in the last eight.
I still have time to practice but I try not to do too much so I retain some freshness and enthusiasm.
I will continue playing for as long as I am competitive at any level. I am playing for enjoyment now and I will just see where that leads me.
People often talk about that infamous final against Dennis Taylor in 1985 as one of the greatest moments in sporting history. What do you remember of that?
We certainly did not realise the magnitude of it when we were playing but it is something that was so long ago now that I don’t even think it is relevant to the modern day game.
It is great people still talk about it and remember where they were when they watched it but I think it is time to move on from that now.
There have been many exciting matches over the years, which are often forgotten, and I think the main reason that one is remembered so much is because it came at a time when the sport was at the height of its popularity. In those days, there were not so many things to compete with.
So what are your other interests away from the game?
I play poker as a hobby and I also played nine-ball pool for a while but not anymore.
I enjoyed my foray into it but ended up finding it too one-dimensional for me, and not challenging enough in the long-term.
Obviously, I still do a lot of work on BBC’s snooker coverage and I also host a radio show every Monday on local community radio. I am also a sleeping director at Leyton Orient Football Club.
I have been very lucky in many ways. The fact I managed to discover something in the early stages of my life and turn it from a hobby into a profession has just been incredible. And to think I have travelled the world and been on television because of that just beggars belief.
What I have got back from the professional game has been amazing but the one thing I have always remembered is that everything has been because of the game and I think that is important.
I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and I never want it to stop because the sport has been at the heart of my life ever since I can remember.