After losing 13-2 to Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals of the 2012 World Championship, Stephen Hendry retired from professional snooker at the age of 43. In this article we will compare the 7 times World Champion Hendry with 6 times World Champion Steve Davis, who recently retired at the age of 56. We will conclude this article by predicting at what age snooker players should hang up their cue.
Hendry began his domination of snooker in the early 1990s. By 1991 he had become world champion and achieved the coveted title of world number 1. In 1994, he succeeded in winning the World Championship and the UK championship while also achieving an MBE. In 1998 he lost his number 1 rank after he was surprisingly defeated in the first round of the world championship. He would regain the title of World Champion in 1999, the last of his 7 world titles.
Hendry’s form began to dip slightly in the following years. In the 2000/01 season Hendry failed to win a single ranking event, which by his standard was a major disappointment. As a result he saw his ranking slip to as low as 6. After some major victories including the 2005 Malta Cup and the 2003/04 UK championship Hendry’s rank began to climb and he once again reached the number 1 spot in 2006.
From 2007 onwards Hendry’s ranking continued to decline. By the end of the 2012 season he was outside the top 16, ranked 17 in the world.
He qualified for the 2012 World Championship for the 27th consecutive time and even made a 147 break on the first day of the tournament. After an embarrassing loss in the quarter finals to Stephen Maguire 13-2 Hendry announced his retirement immediately after the match saying he was dissatisfied with his standard of play in recent years. At the age of 43, this seemed like early retirement, especially to someone like Steve Davis who is recently dropped off the professional tour at the age of 56.
Steve Davis dominated the world rankings in the 1980s and it wasn’t until 1990 that Davis was knocked off the number 1 spot by Stephen Hendry. He remained highly competitive throughout the 1990s and it wasn’t until the 2000/01 season that Davis dropped out of the top 16.
He failed to qualify for the World Championship the next two years at which point many expected him to retire, however he chose to play on. Over the years to come Davis failed to qualify for the television stages of many tournaments and by the start of the 2011/12 he was ranked just 44th in the world.
After losing his last 96 match qualifying for the 2014 World Championship Davis dropped out of the Professional tour after 36 years.
The way both Davis and Hendry retired were contrasting to say the least. Because of the way Davis’ career has regressed in the last five years, he should have retired earlier. Davis possibly continued to play because of his love for playing and possibly to set some sort of record such as the ‘oldest ever top 16/top 32 player’. As a result, Davis was forced to retire unlike Hendry who easily had another five years of competitive play left in him.
Retiring near the top of your game is a big thing, not just for pride but the legacy you leave behind. Many will remember Hendry as the player who made 27 consecutive crucible appearances, making a 147 break in the World Championship in 2012 and for all his records. Unfortunately for Davis, one would imagine that not a whole lot of people know whether he is retired or not.
We all know how Davis dominated the 1980s, but unfortunately his legacy will be his final years, gradual decline and forced retirement.
Dave Duggan, Pundit Arena.