Yesterday evening should have seen the conclusion of the second round at the World Championship …
Eurosport has published this vodcast about the “Greatest Rivalries”
To be honest, I found this one a bit disappointing, but the issue is probably with me rather than with the vodcast. I’m not overly interested in “rivalries” and the concept of “rivalry” itself is not entirely clear to me.
I’m certain that Alex Higgins saw anyone who beat him regularly, and possibly threatened his “status” as “People Champion and the most important player on the tour, as a rival or even as an enemy. His attitude towards the like of Steve Davis, Cliff Thorburn, and Dennis Taylor suggests that much. At times he really hated them. I’m very doubtful that those “rivals” feelings were reciprocal, nor that they were so extreme. They probably had very mixed feelings: irritation most of the time, anger as well, but surely they were also disconcerted and puzzled as it was plain for all to see that he wasn’t stable mentally and battling addictions.
Some of those “rivalries” were the expression of a “change of guard”: Davis v Hendry, Hendry v Ronnie, Ronnie v Trump and to an extend Selby are examples.
Other rivalries, like Ronnie v John Higgins, John Higgins v Mark Williams, Mark Williams v Ronnie, are the true rivalries in my eyes: sportsmen of the same generation, competing against each other throughout their career. Same era, same opportunities, same conditions.
And then, you have those rivalries that are more of a fans’ thing than anything else. As much as I like Jimmy White for his unwavering love of the game, I can’t see him as a rival to either Hendry or Steve Davis in terms of career and achievements, and, surely, both Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry must have been aware of this even in their prime. Jimmy had the flair, the charisma, and the charm … but his lifestyle, personality, and iffy work ethic meant that he was never going to challenge them in terms of career achievements.
To an extend, this also goes for the Hendry v Ronnie rivalry from 2004 on. Hendry was no more the force he had been, but hope never died in his fans.
WST Crucible Gold was about Ronnie and shows his last three Crucible Finals wins
This of course triggered very fond memories for me, as I was there in 2012 and 2013.
It also awoke bittersweet ones. I was thrilled to watch him win in 2008. I was in a snooker club, because I couldn’t watch BBC at home. The club doesn’t exist anymore, it’s a supermarket now, the owner has lefts us, taken away by cancer, and I remember the mixed feelings seeing Ronnie there with his partner and two young children. At the time, I knew that their relationship was on the rocks,