…Was the catchy chorus to Chas & Dave’s top ten hit in 1986 along with The Matchroom Mob.
This was a halcyon era for snooker in Britain when the World final used to attract TV audiences of 18.5 million (I kid you not).
The mid-eighties didn’t see massive crowds at football by comparison as it was a lot less ‘family orientated’ and with no live football on the TV then wall to wall snooker was a BBC and ITV staple for many years.
It was more popular than darts back in the day although I reckon it will never match the popularity of darts nowadays however, exciting a player Ronnie O’Sullivan is with commentators ‘Whispering’ Ted Lowe and Clive Everton household names.
The reason is, at the big darts tournaments, you can basically drink, sing and be as raucous as you want, which is a throwback to the eighties. Snooker, whilst you can have a drink prides itself on its audiences ‘being quiet’ and watching the game therefore you need a good attention span and really enjoy the sport to watch.
Darts picks up lots of floating supporters who enjoy a night out and a drink and have minimal interest in the sport and I can’t see snooker matching that any time soon.
However, back in the day players such as Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins…
…and Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White,,,
would often be found having a fag and a pint and then playing exhilarating snooker although invariably they were beaten by Steve Davis.
(even Doug Mountjoy got in on the act)
However, even Davis was flawed and the last gasp classic defeat to Dennis Taylor and subsequent loss to Joe Johnson arguably made him more popular as we Brits love a gracious loser.
But there were characters aplenty with Willie Thorne big buddies with Gary Lineker when he was just an England international from Leicester market as opposed to the Twitterati star he is now.
Big Bill Werbeniuk (above) knocking back pint after pint during frames whilst Kirk Stevens and Cliff Thorburn also from Canada indulged in some Class A’s as well as performing well on the green baize.
(Cliff after a 147 break live on TV)
Pot Black and Big Break are two iconic series that will stay in my mind…
and snooker was razzmatazz and a way out for many people as snooker halls were often filled with lads who should have been at school.
There is still cash in snooker but the days of mainstream television audiences glued to the screen are long gone as are many of the snooker halls that were everywhere thirty/forty years ago.
However, when my pal suggested a game of snooker as a warm up to an evening out I leapt at the chance as I’ve not played for years…it showed as I was walloped in both frames!
(My pal about to pot another ball!)
However, I’d forgotten quite how inclusive bars with snooker tables are when I walked into 160- The Corn Exchange Sports Bar DE1 2DS.
This boozer is tucked away on the first floor next door to The City Bar in the centre of Derby but is huge inside.
Pool tables, dart boards and five snooker tables mean you know exactly what you are getting along with the biggest screen I have seen for live sports!
The barman said they had one less snooker table nowadays due to pool’s popularity and this place is home to the Jack Whelan Pool Academy, who was World Champion in 2015.
I saw a lad in a Slayer t-shirt, two lads taking it seriously drinking fizzy pop from cans and asking us how long we’d played and a good mix of colours and creeds that you don’t always see in every bar in Derby.
Aside from needing snookers by the time we reached the colours in both frames it was a cracking hour although the IPA (Maltsmiths) was ice cold. I like a chilled beer but this was extra cold!
We spoke to the barman who said they ran it through the same system as the lager so it was the same temperature and it was the coldest IPA I’ve had!
Nonetheless, I heard three songs from The Wombats classic album “A guide to love, loss and desperation” along with two tracks from The Stone Roses so whoever was in charge of background music was doing an outstanding job!
As it was Derby there was the obligatory Rams memorabilia too…
…and a healthy turnover of people throughout at 5pm on a Thursday evening. I’d forgotten how much fun snooker is and unfortunately it appears as though a lot of the population have too.
But, whilst this place had the feel of a snooker hall more than a bar it’s clearly filling a niche in Derby and with a world champion basing his Pool academy there, then the future is bright.
“Now our friend Den, hours he spent
Down the snooker hall
On the old green baize his mates seem amazed
At skills with a snooker ball
And them long shots, he never ever got
Why? The old mind boggles
But nowadays he pots the lot
‘Cos I wear these goggles’
Snooker loopy nuts are we
Me and him and them and me
We’ll show you what we can do
With a load of balls and a snooker cue”