Modern Books



Modern Books

It is interesting to note that 2001 is the 20th anniversary of Steve Davis winning his first World Snooker title at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield.

This means that his two book autobiography is virtually 20 years old as well, these books are worth reading as they capture moments in time that are long gone now and allow us access to the thought processes that contributed to them.

These books are considered by many to be virtually worthless in a collecting sense and yet I enjoy reading them. These books jog my memory about matches that I have watched and about events that at times I almost felt a part of such as Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis’s epic 1985 Crucible final that is well documented in Dennis’s own book, Frame by frame.

Ray Reardon’s life story is recounted in a book, as is Terry Griffiths, these two players are interesting for a variety of reasons, not least because unlike most of today’s top players, they had other jobs before being able to make a living from Snooker.

Ray was a Police office and a miner and Terry sold insurance, worked on the buses and in the mines as well.

What comes across in their books is the love they both had for the game of Snooker and their realisation that they were privileged to be able to make a good living from doing something that they enjoyed so much, along with their strong work ethic. 

I remember when Stephen Hendry’s book came out in 1990, many critics said “what has he got to write about, he’s only 22”. Stephen’s first book is worth reading alongside Ray Reardon’s for example because of the contrast in lifestyles if nothing else the two eras are massively different.

Stephen Hendry has achieved so much in the game that I feel a second book is long overdue and would be interesting reading.

His instruction book, “Stephen Hendry Snooker Masterclass” is an excellent work on the theory and practical skills of the game, yet an insight into how he stayed at the top for so long and what effect chasing Steve Davis’ records has had on his career.

Another player’s book that is well worth reading is Cliff Thorburn’s book “Playing for keeps”. This book reveals some very deep and personal insights into a man that, to many television viewers seemed slow, methodical and boring. To me it is surprising that more people don’t see that, it is contrast that allows a game of Snooker to grab the full attention of the viewers. Dividing the audience and encapsulates additional drama and excitement due to the different styles employed. Think of the battles between Steve Davis and Alex Higgins if you doubt my assertion, how many people do you know that were neutral when their matches were in progress?

Cliff’s book is a welcome addition to my collection and after reading it I can remember wanting him to win and succeed more than ever.

Cliff was and still is I feel sure much more than a Snooker player and yet, this is what he is known for and I suppose what he will go down in history for.

Like Peter Ebdon, Cliff Thorburn was I feel playing for his life and the lifestyles of his family and I suspect that he felt a sense of putting his reputation on the line, every time he took his cue out in front of an audience. I had nothing of this insight before reading his book. 

Looking back to the players of many more years ago, I am disappointed that such players as Willie Smith and Tom Newman did not put pen to paper concerning the events that led them to their chosen profession. I understand a book exists written about the life of Walter Lindrum and of course the autobiographies of Joe and Fred Davis have been recorded, more fully in Joe’s case of course. 

Fred Davis “Talking Snooker” reveals quite a lot about the championship and exhibition circuit of the period that he was competing and is at times amusing and fascinating.

Fred talks with great respect about his fellow players of the time John Pullman, Walter Donaldson and Rex Williams and of course his brother Joe. His book is a good record of the times when Snooker was in decline due to the popularity of Television and reflects on the irony of the Pot Black programme revitalising the game that Television nearly saw off completely. 

John Parrott co wrote a book after winning the World Snooker Championship in 1991; this book is littered with amusing stories about life on the circuit and fresh perspectives on the events that shaped John’s career. I particularly enjoyed John’s comments concerning his views of the other top players at the time.

John displayed great loyalty to his friend and personal manager Phil Miller, at around this time. I remember that to me this incident proved that John has a deeper side that is highly principled and a character that is strong enough to be a winner and a long-standing ambassador for his chosen sport. 

Some of the young players of this era, in the clubs will not remember even John Parrott’s win of ten years ago, so this book will be a revelation to them should they be able tom obtain a copy.

Most of the above mentioned books seem new to me as I have been collecting books since 1986, which is at the time of writing 15 years ago. I feel that many people may even now just be starting a collection and unaware of what has gone before. These little articles are designed to give these collectors encouragement to seek out these hidden little “treasures”.

David Smith