Former world champion Joe Johnson is planning a seniors tournament in his native Bradford next year, featuring legends such as Jimmy White, John Parrott and Alex Higgins.
I understand there will also be a new event featuring some of the game’s most established players later this year.
Quite a few sports have events for seniors. In both golf and tennis there are thriving circuits and there are also a number of Masters football competitions.
Snooker is an obvious choice for such a circuit. After all, it isn’t a sport that depends on physical fitness, although years and years of playing can take their toll on players’ backs and, of course, things such as eyesight decline as a player gets older.
There have been seniors tournaments in the past. In 1991, Matchroom promoted a televised World Seniors Championship, in the final of which Cliff Wilson beat Eddie Chalrton.
In 1997, the BBC screened Seniors Pot Black, featuring many well known faces from the original series. Johnson was the eventual winner.
And in 2000, a Seniors Masters was streamed live on the internet from the RAC Club in London, won by Willie Thorne.
So would seniors snooker be a winner?
Consider the following: Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Parrott, White, Nigel Bond, Dave Harold, David Roe, Tony Drago.
All players on the main tour, all 40 or over.
Ken Doherty turns 40 later this year; Peter Ebdon does so next year.
So there are plenty of players still competing and still capable of playing to a high standard who could make a seniors tour a spectacle worth watching.
If you go back further, it becomes a little more questionable as to what sort of standard could be produced. The likes of Cliff Thorburn, Tony Knowles and Dennis Taylor are all popular stars of yesteryear, but they don’t play snooker regularly and therefore the enthusiasm for seeing them in action may wane pretty quickly.
I saw Higgins play in the Irish Professional Championship a couple of years ago. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience.
However, what the veterans do have is the ability to interact with the crowd. They learned their trade doing exhibitions in the days before a living could be made on the professional circuit.
They can do trick shots and tell jokes and generally entertain.
This is lacking from normal tournaments – as it should be (you don’t get Roger Federer or Tiger Woods cracking jokes when they’re playing) – but in a less serious environment it may appeal to audiences.
That said, the image of the old guard as being wisecracking ‘characters’ who didn’t take the game seriously is entirely false. The likes of Taylor, Thorburn and Ray Reardon were among the hardest matchplayers ever to take to the green baize. They despised losing and never gave an inch on the table.
My own view on seniors snooker is that it would be a novelty that would create huge interest at first and then the novelty would probably start to wear off.
As ever, it all depends on how it’s marketed and where it’s played.
I certainly think there is a market for it but, of course, someone has to pay for it, through sponsorship and/or a broadcast partner.
I think in some ways snooker’s past is a millstone around the sport’s neck. Constant comparisons with the ‘good old days’ don’t do the modern game any favours, not least because it doesn’t take into account changes in society and the complete transformation of television.
But the current professional circuit exists largely because of the efforts of those who have gone before.
I don’t think anyone would begrudge them another turn in the spotlight.