In their classic ‘Snooker Loopy’, Chas and Dave promised to show us what they “could do with a load of balls and a snooker cue.” Their legacy continued during the final session of the recent Masters’ final, with Ray Stubbs heralding one frame as a showpiece of “snooker balls of steel.”
With such an apparent fixation with balls, snooker would appear to most onlookers to be in rude health. Not according to its finest player, Ronnie O’Sullivan, though. After beating Joe Perry in the first round, O’Sullivan bemoaned the “dying” sport, and mentioned that an X Factor-inspired Simon Cowell overhaul would be provide the necessary resuscitative lift.
The world number one thinks that a change similar to that seen in Britain’s other favourite pub sport, darts, would revitalise the game. "It needs someone with entrepreneurial skills like Simon Cowell who is in the modern world and more dynamic."
Another of snooker’s greats, Steve Davis, agrees that the sport needs a change, but appears to be fuelling the discussion with an interesting new twist, "For the last 25 years our association and players have tried to run their own game a bit Motown style.”
Motown – now there’s an idea for snooker’s hierarchy. It is not a Saturday evening exhibition of third-rate karaoke singers that can save the sport – it is jazz. The game’s bluesy future already seems a vivid prospect; the nostalgic witticisms of commentators Dennis Taylor and John Virgo would turn to calls of “bitchin’ long pot from Graeme Dott” or “Alan McManus - take it to the bridge, baby” , while Hazel Irvine’s chirpy presentation would make way for the Fast Show Jazz Club’s own Louis Balfour. Nice.
In the playing area itself, the compere could be replaced with a piano-accompanied, gravel-voiced jazz veteran, who would introduce players like members of his ensemble; “Playing tactically tonight, we have Mark ‘Smokey’ Selby, and on break-building, the Rocket himself, Mr Ronnie O’Sullivan.”
If O’Sullivan is after a more mainstream-friendly dash of pop culture, then we have the ideal fusion of faux sixties’ soul and contemporary chart music - Duffy. Perhaps she could sing entrance songs for players, as the piano plays standards in the background. Steve Davis’ cousin Miles could even provide posthumous trumpets.
It is a picture of glamour that far exceeds ‘The Rocket’s vision of an ITV screening of ‘Shaun Murphy Versus Stephen Lee On Ice’ – though such a spectacle would indeed provide an entertaining support act.