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Ssb - how to write a snooker knocking piece

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  • Ssb - how to write a snooker knocking piece

    One of the traditions of the World Championship is that any journalist with a spare half hour suddenly becomes an expert in snooker.

    Having ignored the sport for the whole year, they emerge ready to spout forth for a grateful audience.

    Snooker knocking pieces are nothing new. They were being written in the ‘golden age’ of the 1980s – ironically, as this is the era most contemporary anti-snooker bores hark back to.

    We’re all busy people, so I thought I would help any hacks out there wishing to stick the knife in with a how-to guide to running down snooker.

    The first, and most important, thing is not to have any actual interest in the game, much less any knowledge of it. Don’t, whatever you do, undertake any research or speak to anyone who may drag you out of the fetid swamp of ignorance in which you reside for the rest of the year.

    Start with a withering putdown: something about pasty-faced young men lining up to pot balls all day long.

    Then state that you don’t know who any of them are. Make it clear that this isn’t your fault. You can’t be expected to know something about the subject you’re writing on. No, it is the fault of the players because they are all the same: all these players you’ve never bothered to interview or study.

    Then contrast the modern players with those of years gone by. This would be a good moment to invoke Bill Werbeniuk, Eddie Charlton and Alex Higgins.

    These, you must make clear, were proper ‘characters’, although it’s important you don’t define what you mean by ‘character’ and you certainly mustn’t apply it to someone who, in the last five years, has reached two world finals despite suffering from a debilitating medical condition, a display of ‘character’ by most people’s definition.

    But what other people think doesn’t matter: it’s all about you. Everyone wants to know what you think, even though they’ve never heard of you.

    There is a danger of you making snooker look like something that was worth watching back in the good old days, so while you can write in a faux fondly way about it, you must also make it clear you really think it’s all beneath you.

    Making fun of the players’ physical appearances and suggesting none of it was really taken seriously is the way to do this. Throw in Ted Lowe’s infamous quote about watching in black and white – you know, the one with about six different versions – because it has to go somewhere and you can twist it to make it look as if no one should have been watching at all.

    Ramble on here about late night finishes – all of which would have bored you rigid had you actually watched them – and smoky snooker halls, the romanticism of which would have worn off within minutes had you ever been in one.

    Mention Dennis Taylor’s hilarious glasses and then you can deliver the big one: that 18.5 million viewers no longer tune in to watch every match.

    It’s vital here that you don’t put into context the audience for the 1985 final as a freak figure hardly repeated since by any sport outside football. You absolutely must not point out that this year’s potential viewing audience for the world final will top 100 million worldwide, not least because the rest of the world doesn’t count in your smugly parochial bubble of self-importance.

    You will have to concede here that Ronnie O’Sullivan is one of the most fascinating sportsmen in Britain but you can use this to your advantage: point out that he is the only player with any personality. Again, don’t attempt to interview any of the others in case you discover that any of them are interesting.

    Also, if writing about O’Sullivan, don’t attempt a fresh angle or any proper insight. Merely get out the cuttings file detailing his life and career and recycle that.

    You still have space to fill so throw in a few statements which have no basis in fact: that the professional game will be dead within years, that prize money has plummeted, that it’s only pensioners who watch, that players can make 147s but are told not to.

    You may also at this point wish to suggest that snooker isn’t really a sport. At no point state that people have different interests and therefore enjoy different sports. Do not praise the high skill level and ice-like temperament required to play top level professional snooker. Do not praise the dedication and sacrifices required to become world champion.

    You’re nearly finished. Soon you can turn your ignorance to some other unsuspecting subject. But it’s important you finish with one final sneer.

    I would suggest something along the lines of ‘Player X may well win the world title, but who will even notice?’

    Congratulations, you are now a snooker expert and we look forward to reading your thoughts again next year.


  • #2
    Spot on!!!

    These hacks are not worthy of the title "journalist". They should bring back corporal punishment for such loathsome creatures... A morning in the stocks on Tudor Square or, a hot branding iron could be swiftly implemented...
    Last edited by Cyril; 5 April 2013, 11:59 AM.


    • #3
      I fear this will be very close to reality. Please post the link when the article appears, it will be fun seeing how many inclusions you predicted! I reckon the Daily Mail will be a good place to start.