Ray Stubbs back to feel ‘power of the Crucible’ at World Seniors Snooker Championship

Ray Stubbs is loving being involved in Seniors events (Picture: Getty)

Ray Stubbs is back at the Crucible to present the World Seniors Snooker Championship, relishing the chance to experience the ‘power and majesty’ of the iconic venue once again.

Stubbs was a regular face on the BBC’s snooker coverage during the 2000s, but he worked in the sport as far back as the ’80s in an off-camera role.

He left the BBC in 2009 but after fronting the coverage of World Seniors Darts, he is now back in the snooker game and at the sport’s legendary home in Sheffield.

‘It’s a great opportunity,’ Stubbs told Metro. ‘I thought I’d retired from broadcasting, but when the opportunity to work on the Seniors Darts came along, that’s been terrific, and now a chance to work again at the Crucible is fantastic.

‘I first worked at the Crucible in the late ’80s as an assistant producer in one of the big grey vans, cutting the musical sequences. If you remember the clips with The Entertainer? I cut a couple of them as part of the BBC’s production team.

‘Then I got asked to go back and work in the presentation team at the beginning of the 2000s.  This is a great opportunity to go back to a place that is so powerful.

‘I love the Crucible. The power of the place. I always used to be amazed. I used to walk around it a bit when it was empty. The majesty of the place. You could sense the memories we’ve all watched down the years floating around while it was empty.

Hazel Irvine, Steve Davis, Dennis Taylor and Ray Stubbs

Ray Stubbs worked alongside the legends of the BBC’s snooker coverage (Picture: BBC)

‘I used to be scared stiff of walking in to garble a couple of sentences together, but the players used to go out and be so accurate, so precise in that unique Crucible atmosphere. The venue is right up there alongside just about any sporting venues.’

There has been plenty of talk of the World Snooker Championship leaving the Crucible when the current contract expires in 2027, but Stubbs would not like to see that happen.

‘I think that would be a mistake, personally,’ he said. ‘When you walk in there, you feel eyes piercing down.

‘The most intense thing in broadcasting terms, I’ve ever experienced is the night of the final, standing backstage waiting for the final ball to be potted then to go in to interview champion and runner-up.

‘After spending so many years watching David Vine do that, then I’ve got to go in and speak to champion and runner-up. Boy, that makes you focus.’

Jimmy White is defending champion at the World Seniors Championship this year (Picture: Getty Images)

The 67-year-old has extremely fond memories of his previous time in snooker, even when it was big names mocking his ability on the table.

‘One thing I smile about is one of the last times I was there,’ he said. ‘In the studio where the practice rooms are, in the down time between programmes I’d go and hit a few balls around.

‘I didn’t realise Mark Williams was playing round the corner, he suddenly appeared, put his head round the curtain and couldn’t stop laughing. He told me I had officially the worst bridge hand in the history of snooker.

‘He called people over to watch and I’ve got a posse of former world champions watching me. [Steve] Davis, [John] Parrott, [Stephen] Hendry, Williams, [Ken] Doherty all dissecting my bridge hand and opinions included banning me from ever picking up a snooker cue again or breaking my hand and re-setting it so I could actually form a bridge. What a coaching clinic that was!’

After leaving the BBC, Stubbs moved to ESPN, followed by BT Sport and then talkSPORT, but felt his broadcasting career had come to an end when Covid hit.

However, his role with the Seniors Darts and Snooker have brought him back into the game and he is loving it.

‘I see everything as chapters. When the pandemic came around that just seemed like time to slow down a bit,’ he said. ‘I wasn’t sure if I was choosing to retire or broadcasting had retired me. It had been a great chapter and it seemed like it was someone else’s turn.

‘I think what the Seniors Darts and Snooker have done is show that sports fans are very loyal and they’ve got memory. They grew up with these people and it’s still great to see them performing.’

The World Seniors Snooker Championship is live on Channel 5 from 8-12 May from the Crucible.


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