Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 29 November 2014

Billy on the Box: No more Power to our elbow

Big Bill Werbeniuk always had plenty of puff at the snooker table
Big Bill Werbeniuk always had plenty of puff at the snooker table

It takes a real man to wear pink, and to pot them too if ITV4’s powers-that-be are to be believed.

Power Snooker returned to our screens at the weekend on the channel normally set aside for classics from the past such as Minder, The Fall Guy and The Professionals.

There were 16 of the latter to be exact, although Bodie and Doyle were nowhere to be seen, as Cowley’s, sorry, Barry Hearns’ efforts, for a big and brash new version of the game burst onto the screen like Bill Werbenuik in a mankini.

After all, this was ‘real men’s TV’ and sponsored by a beer company, with best man for the stag party with balls Matt Smith welcoming us all to ‘our second look at a traditional sport’s whizz-bang new format.’

I wasn’t convinced last year and I’m even less so now, as there were times I wanted to crawl up and hide beneath the table as what was effectively Big Break without the class and waistcoats limped along in Manchester with all the grace and class of Bernard Manning in a tutu.

It really is darts’ fault, with the tried and tested formula of the Premier League now upping sticks to the men with sticks and it doesn’t work. It may work on Sky, but hidden away on ITV4 where only real men dare to tread, there was little razzmatazz.

It didn’t start well, no music to accompany the opening titles — they must have used up all the power elsewhere — and Matt joined by Dennis Taylor, all dressed in black. Did he not get the note about the new dress code?

He was sharp enough to put Smith in his place when he asked how ‘do you think Eddie Jordan would have coped with the 20 second shot clock?’

‘Eddie Charlton’, Dennis pointed out helpfully, but more hole digging arrived with the retort ‘Eddie Jordan would have been terrible’. Perhaps, but at least he would have had a fast car to get as far away as possible.

But beer, snooker, fast cars, what are we missing? I know, scantily-clad ladies. It’s a combination that appeals to our basic instincts and so it was appropriate then that our femme fatale for the weekend was a Ms S. Stone.

It turns out it was Sarah, not Sharon, but after hearing her opening gambit of ‘I’m here with two fantastic snooker players, how are you feeling tonight? (it was 1.00pm) I would have gladly grabbed hold of the nearest ice pick and gouged my own eyes out.

Of course I would have missed her succession of lovely and ever-shorter frocks as the face of MUTV proved she had a body to go with it and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that Paddy Crerand was busy.

More girls arrived, Power Girls, to accompany the players on a walk through a deserted warehouse accompanied by a live band that was bordering on Alan Partridge levels of embarrassment.

Eurosport’s skiing commentator and the voice of BBC triathlon (ah, that’s where I know him from) Matt Chilton was joined by Ronnie O’Sullivan and Clive Everton must be quaking in his hush puppies as his opening contribution was ‘how you doing, alright?’

Thankfully he is more eloquent on the table and in a game that seems to have been invented by Hearn to keep snooker’s one real character interested, he got to the final after a win over Neil Robertson who, Smith told us, ‘just got run over by a Rocket.”

I don’t know about you, but there’s not enough steam train-based humour about these days, but O’Sullivan lost in the decider to Martin Gould.

Back over on Sky the one true Power was doing what Ronnie couldn’t do, beating everyone in his path at the Grand Prix, where he was up against Eddie Jordan.

He wasn’t really, but he would have given Phil Taylor more of a game than Gary Anderson did as the second damp squib of the weekend reached its conclusion with defeat for the Flying Scotsman.

Typical, isn’t it, you wait a lifetime for one steam train-based anecdote to come along and suddenly two turn up at once.

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