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Monday, 5 March, 2001, 00:17 GMT
Snooker now a young man's game
BBC snooker correspondent Clive Everton
BBC snooker commentator Clive Everton reflects on the failure of Steve Davis and Jimmy White to reach the final stages of the World Championship.

The Embassy World Championship, which starts at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on 21 April, will not seem quite the same this year without Steve Davis and Jimmy White.

It is the first time in 22 years that Davis has not been part of the greatest tournament of them all. White will be absent for the first time in 20 years.

Davis, six times champion in the 1980s and White, six times runner-up, both failed to win in the final qualifying round in Newport on Sunday.

So John Parrott, at 36, is the oldest competitor to figure in the 25 March draw for the televised phase of the competition.

Steve Davis
The popular Steve Davis will continue to play
This will pit the top 16 players in the rankings, who appear at the Crucible by right, against the 16 survivors of the qualifying round.

Davis, 17th in the rankings, and White, 18th, only had to win one qualifying match but it was one too many.

White fell 10-7 to Michael Judge, the Republic of Ireland number three, and Davis 10-6 to Andy Hicks, a semi-finalist six years ago who has been in recession for a couple of seasons.

White was "devastated", Davis philosophical: "I had been practising hard but haven't really produced all season.

"I could retire but I bloody well refuse to. That would be the easy thing to do, but it's still a challenge for me because I want to play well again. "

The earlier rounds had seen the demise of several 80s favourites.

Mike Hallett, 10 years to the day after losing the Benson & Hedges Masters final 9-8 to Stephen Hendry, went out in the second round.

Willie Thorne exited in the third round, Tony Knowles and Neal Foulds, both former semi-finalists went out in the fourth round, and Joe Johnson, the 1986 champion, in the penultimate qualifying round.

Willie Thorne
Willie Thorne was another of the old school to exit
The circuit's growing intensity of competition means that top players tend not to last so long. Sometimes they play well as ever but not often enough.

Increasingly at this level, it is a young man's sport.

There will be four Crucible debutants this year: Judge, Sean Storey, Marcus Campbell and Patrick Wallace.

Storey, 10 years on the circuit, stands 99th in the rankings but got home 10-9 against Northern Ireland's Terry Murphy, the world number 30.

He thus achieved what every professional desires at least once in his career - an entry to snooker's most famous stage through its most famous curtains.

Campbell beat fellow Scot Drew Hendry; Wallace a Queen's University Belfast accountancy graduate, registered breaks of 113, 131 and 123 in his 10-4 win over Joe Perry.

Ten years after he first qualified Nick Dyson, the world number 114, qualified again by overcoming Brian Morgan 10-9.

The cruellest hard luck story was that of Ian McCulloch, who missed a blue for the match in the deciding frame against Tony Drago. The dashing Maltese star then took the game 10-9 on the final black.

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See also:

04 Mar 01 |  Other Sports
Davis misses out on Crucible
03 Mar 01 |  Other Sports
White's Crucible hopes blown away
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