The History of Snooker
The history of snooker is long and full of tradition. The game itself is a spin-off of Billiards that was popular from the 1500's, though only in very moneyed places like the royal palaces and aristocrats.
Being associated with the aristocracy gave the game of billiards a proud stance and an image of being a gentlemen's game. When the game was first being played there was no cushions or rails these were introduced when the players became tired of the balls falling off the pockets were the holes the balls were allowed to go in as opposed to the channels they passed through before. The balls were made of Ivory and 12 elephants had to be slaughtered in order for one set of balls to be made. Various different variations of billiards came about such as Black Pool, and by the end of the 1800's the game had developed, as had the tables into, as we know them today.
The biggest individual contribution to snooker came from Joe Davis and his brother Fred who dominated the game for over 50 years between them and were instrumental in the games transition from a grand aristocratic game to a working class pastime. Joe won 15 consecutive world championships and Fred won 8 world championships. There was only a handful of decent players but the standard was relatively low the highest break in 1922 being 33, Joes game developed to a point where he made a 147 maximum break which was recognized in 1957, and was obviously way ahead of his time in terms of skills and techniques. Fred was younger than Joe by 12 years and was unlucky not to have had his name highlighted in snooker history like his brothers. Fred came very close to beating Joe on a number of occasions especially when you consider that three of there finals came down to the final frame, Joe winning them all one 35-34 and some which spanned 80+ frames with Joe the victor.
With the introduction of pot Black on TV in the 1960's the game began to get some appeal and Riley leisure began implementing some tables in clubs for commercial use even though the game had not caught on. Ray Reardon and John Spencer emerged in the 1970's along with Dennis Taylor and others that gave the game a boost.
The biggest boost undoubtedly coming from the introduction of color TV that made snooker an overnight sensation. Players became national heroes and there was a large demand for tables at the grassroots level. In the 1980's lots of youngsters were taking up the game at a very early age but the massive amount of hours with which snooker was on the TV caused a withdrawal of peoples interest quelled only by Steve Davis and his 6 world championship victories during that decade. The single greatest moment for snooker was without doubt the 1985 world final where the championship came down to the final black with Dennis Taylor claiming the prize.
Over 18.5 million people tuned in at 12.30am to last this piece of sporting legend and the games are still talked about today. During the 90's, snooker was arguably the nations most played table sport with a steady popularity base. Stephen Hendrys finals with Jimmy White kept interest high, especially as Jimmy never won the world title and crowd interest was maintained. In the year 2000 Peter Middleton is hinting on big changes within the tournament set-up and structure, the emphasis being the willingness to allow the players to be more casual and modernizing the game to account for the movement of the game towards a crowd pleasing sport full of characters and attacking shots. There are lots of youngsters who excel greatly at the game and the dour image of snooker in the early 1980's is being replaced by a trendy new image that is set to keep interest in Snooker high