Last year Clive Everton was honoured at the World Snooker Awards, becoming the first broadcaster or journalist to be inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame.
We talked to the legendary commentator and Editor of Snooker Scene about his induction and some of his most memorable moments at the Crucible from behind the mic and in the press room…
Clive, we’re one year on from your induction into the Hall of Fame. Just how special was it for you to be given that honour?
In one way or another I’ve given my life to snooker, either through playing, journalism or commentary. It is nice that those efforts have been appreciated, especially considering that I have been at war with various administrations in the past. First it was the amateur one and then the professional one. I was just so irritated to see the game being run far less well than it should have been. Snooker has made enormous strides under Barry Hearn on the commercial side and Jason Ferguson on the administrative side. It is really good to look back on things and see how far we have come. It is much more pleasant to be friends with everybody than at odds.
You have come up with three of your favourite moments at the Crucible. Would you let us know a bit about why you have gone for each one?
Dennis Taylor 18-17 Steve Davis – 1985 World Championship Final
My prime choice would have to be the last twelve shots of Taylor vs Davis in 1985. It was a remarkable frame, not because of its quality, but because of its lack of it. They were both in a high state of nerves and anxiety. In the last 12 shots Taylor was just a bit more positive. I think that was what earned him the victory. It was such a dramatic climax and was huge at the time, but you really couldn’t have predicted that it would have become as iconic as it has in snooker’s history.
The viewing figures got a lot of attention. Numbers like 18.5 million after midnight on BBC Two had never been known before. Rather ironically and rather sadly, that figure has been used as a stick to beat snooker with since then. Those who are not friends of the sport are quite quick to declare that there aren’t figures of that size anymore.
Ken Doherty 17-16 Paul Hunter – 2003 World Championship Semi-finals
This match really was remarkable. The final session was on a Saturday afternoon and Hunter led 15-9, needing just two more frames to get to the final. I thought we would be finished within half an hour. In the end we went on all the way through the six o’clock news, which they pushed back because the nation was so hooked on the snooker. It was just the archetypal comeback. I love these long, slow and gradual recoveries. You get to see the psychology of the moment and where the shift occurs. I admired the way Hunter took it all and the humility he showed in defeat. Everyone said that he would win the World Championship one day and it is just terribly sad that he didn’t.
Graeme Dott 18-14 Peter Ebdon – 2006 World Championship Final
This was a very unfashionable final in that it was a long, hard and grinding battle. Dott was unfancied in terms of being a potential champion. However, he started the last session 15-7 in front. That was some way short of the scheduled amount of frames, as they ran out of time in the afternoon. Ebdon battled his way back into it and won six in a row to trail just 15-13. It looked as if momentum was with him and that he was going to win it. Eventually, under the circumstances, Dott made a fantastic clearance of 68 to go 17-14 up and he then got himself over the line in the next frame. I can remember walking out of the commentary box at quarter to one in the morning having witnessed a really epic match. When I commentate, I like to see drama and I like to see a battle. One can appreciate the skill of one player brushing another aside with a barrage of centuries, but it is the suspense which really gets me going as a spectator.
You have been in the box for some iconic moments at the Crucible. How do you approach broadcasting for big matches, and is there a line of commentary which sticks in your mind?
With commentary, I usually like to have the opening lines in my head before I start. If I know what the story is likely to be at the end then I will have given that some thought, but sometimes it just has to come spontaneously. In those sort of historic moments I am concentrating so hard on trying to do it well, that in some ways they aren’t as memorable. I have taken satisfaction from some quite obscure matches where I thought I did well. One line that I do remember delivering was after Shaun Murphy won the World Championship in 2005. I said, ‘Amazing, astonishing, astounding,’ after he potted the final balls. That was a brilliant story, because he had come through as a qualifier, ranked 48th in the world and was only 22 years old.