“A record called Snooker Loopy is released today. It is an unexceptional example of public bar singalong, but Barry Hearn is confident that events in Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre over the next 17 days will ensure that it gets into the hit parade.” It was clear that Michael Calvin, then writing for the Telegraph, was not a big fan of the forthcoming collaboration between the Matchroom Mob and Chas & Dave. But everything Barry Hearn touched in snooker back in the 1980s seemed to turn to gold.
“Snooker is the most successful modern sport and no one has exploited its commercial potential more successfully than Hearn,” Calvin continued. “Hearn’s Matchroom Company stars – Steve Davis, Dennis Taylor, Terry Griffiths, Willie Thorne, Tony Meo and Neal Foulds – will gross £2m this year.” But could they really break into the pop charts?
The choice of Chas & Dave was pretty straightforward. The Londoners had already enjoyed chart success in the world of sport with their two FA Cup final songs for Tottenham in the early 1980s. Ossie’s Dream (which reached No 5 在 1981) 和 Tottenham, Tottenham (which peaked at No 19 在 1982) demonstrated that the pair knew what worked when it came to writing and performing singles that would appeal to the general public (or Spurs supporters at least).
“We spoke to Barry and wanted to find out the personalities and idiosyncrasies of the players involved in the song,” Chas Hodges revealed in an interview in 2000. With Meo, Griffiths, Taylor, Thorne and Davis onboard, there was enough material available to pen a song that would be released to coincide with the World Snooker Championship in 1986.
Each player involved had their own section in the song. But it was the chorus that became an earworm during the spring of 1986. Even now there must be a generation of people who know the sequence of colours solely because of Snooker Loopy, even if they don’t like the sport. “Pot the reds then screw back for the yellow, 绿色, brown, blue, pink and black.” Come the end of the tournament, anyone who did not know the order of colours on a snooker table must have had the memory of a goldfish.
Meo was the first player under the spotlight in the song. According to Hearn, Meo would always cry regardless of whether he won or lost. Chas & Dave ran with this. “And whether he wins or whether he don’t,” led into Meo’s cameo: “I always pipe me eyeballs”. Meo went out of the tournament in the first round.
Meo’s loss was not unexpected, but the departure of reigning champion in the same round was. Taylor’s triumph in 1985 was the stuff of legend. 这 18.5 million audience watching his black-ball win over Davis showed just how popular the sport was at the time. Taylor was a likeable winner too. Part of his appeal undoubtedly revolved around his unique glasses designed to help him in his profession. “But them long shots, he never ever got, why? The old mind boggles. But nowadays he pots the lot.” Cue Taylor: “‘Cos I wear these goggles.”
Hair, or the lack of it, featured for the next two verses. Whereas Terry “The Taff” Griffiths was going to buy another eight “hairbrushes for me barnet,” Willie Thorne was teased about his shiny pate. “But old Willie Thorne, his hair’s all gone, and his mates all take the rise.” The video, filmed in Romford, showed Davis and Griffiths trying to keep the light rebounding off Thorne’s head out of their eyes. “It’s just not fair giving off that glare,” continued the theme. “Perhaps I ought to chalk it,” Thorne responded.
Then Davis took his turn. “Steve last year came very near to winning the snooker crown, but he never got to put it on his ginger nut, ‘cos the black ball wouldn’t go down’”. The defeat to Taylor in 1985 had been a low for Davis, but it was a marketing dream for Hearn and the sport. With snooker ruling the world, Hearn had signed up many of the stars to his Matchroom stable . “Now he don’t care who wins this year,” Chas & Dave noted. “Cos he’s got the rest of us signed up,” Davis replied.
Unfortunately, Joe Johnson had not read the lyrics. 这 150-1 outsider shocked everyone when he won the tournament 在 1986. The 33-year-old father of six had never even won a match at a World Championship, but he battled through round after round and beat Davis in the final. Johnson was the lead singer of the band Made in Japan, but he was not deemed a big enough name for the Matchroom Mob.
Nevertheless, as the tournament progressed and Snooker Loopy was seemingly played in every session break, it became apparent that the nation was hooked. Charting at No 98 as the World Championship started, the song steadily climbed the charts. Up to 79, 然后 58 before breaking into the top 40 at No 37. But things didn’t stop there. Surging to No 11, the single then broke into the top 10, peaking at No 6 on Sunday 25 可能. The players had finally made it on to Top of the Pops, proving there was no escape from the song.
It was a bit naff, but the fact the song went so high in the charts – joining Madonna, Status Quo, Pater Gabriel, Level 24 and Van Halen in the top 10 – shows just how big snooker and its stars were at the time. It was a bit of fun, a song of its time. 然而, the follow-up fell on deaf ears. “We then got delusions,” Davis admitted on the BBC documentary When Snooker Ruled the World. “We thought we were the dogs.”
Oh dear. A year later, Chas & Dave teamed up with the Matchroom Mob once more. The Romford Rap was just as catchy, but the UK public were not convinced. The single reached No 91 in the charts and brought an end to the Matchroom Mob and their involvement in the music industry. As the sport reached saturation point and slowly the players of the 1980s started to fade away, Snooker Loopy became a soundtrack to a time when the public could not get enough of the green baize action.
“Snooker loopy nuts are we, me and him and them and me.” It seemed we all were back then, even if I do write this with a slight tinge of nostalgic bias. 然而, one thing is certain: I will now have this song in my head for the rest of the day. But as long as Snooker Loopy keeps the Romford Rap out of my mind’s playlist, I’ll take that.