tournament victories

So Long to Champion Davis

Steve Davis has retired from professional snooker at the age of 58.

Steve Davis.jpgAfter almost four decades as a professional, the six-time world champion officially announced his decision on the BBC this afternoon.

Of course, it comes as no huge surprise considering he only chose to play in one match all season, a 10-4 defeat to Fergal O’Brien in World Championship qualifying.

However, there is still a hint of sadness in the air as a career that outlasted multiple eras comes to an end.

His first match way back in 1978 was a 9-0 triumph over Kari Elovaara in the Canadian Open, a manner of victory which was a sign of things to materialise over the coming decade.

In the 1980s Davis dominated the sport with a virtuously nerveless determination that saw him dominate both World Championships and the world rankings.

Davis won 28 ranking titles in total during a period where snooker experienced a boom in popularity which it has forever struggled to live up to since.

At that point the sport was front page as well as back page news, with Davis being the robotic, relentless machine compared to the brash, unpredictability of one his prime rivals Alex Higgins.

Davis, much to the Northern Irishman’s eternal frustration, got the better of most of their meetings but it was another player from the Emerald Isle who prevailed in arguably Davis’, and snooker’s, most crowning moment.

The 1985 World Championship final with Dennis Taylor drew in 18.5 million viewers in the UK when snooker was at the peak of its powers, as a dramatic climax at the Crucible was settled by the bespectacled Dennis sinking the final black in a decider.

But with those rare defeats came a wealth of success and trophies, including six UK Championships, three Masters and several further invitational singles and team events.

The Romford cueist also compiled the first televised 147 break at the Classic in 1981, for which he now humorously is remembered for winning a Lada car.

The Nugget’s surprise last Masters victory in 1997 over Ronnie O’Sullivan came when his game was in decline and a certain Stephen Hendry had long overtaken him in the pecking order.

Still, while Hendry gave up the ghost as soon as he failed to produce at the highest level, Davis was content with the battle of simply winning matches, trying to stay inside the elite top 16 and holding his own against several new waves of young talent.

And in his twilight years there were several magical moments.

Davis narrowly lost in the final of the 2004 Welsh Open in a decider to O’Sullivan before a wonderful run to the final of the UK Championship the following year – where he was beaten by an 18 year-old Ding Junhui.

Five years later at the 2010 World Championship, Davis stunned defending champion John Higgins as a 52 year-old to forge a memorable run to the last eight in Sheffield.

The positive results became rarer and rarer, though, and following the passing of his father Bill a few weeks ago, his staunchest of supporters, Davis decided to call it a day.

Now, Davis concentrates mostly on his career as a budding techno DJ, and even featured prominently at Bloc Festival earlier this year – under the moniker DJ Thundermuscle.

A Spitting Image comedy sketch in the 1980s which famously poked fun at Davis’ seemingly boring image by sarcastically labelling him as “interesting”, a nickname which stuck for many years, ironically had the foresight to reveal his true personality behind the then programmed exterior.

Steve Davis has been one of the most interesting, intriguing, fascinating and wonderfully gifted characters snooker has had the pleasure of producing.

The sport is in immense gratitude to his lifetime of service.

Photo courtesy of Monique Limbos

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