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on 2 November 2007
Like many people I remember the TV golden age of snooker in the 1980s, when the game was more memorable for its cast of characters (such as Higgins, Werbeniuk, White, even 'interesting' Steve Davis)than its overall quality. Nowadays the game is peopled by pale automatons riding on the back of this heyday, who may make more centuries, but simply aren't as fascinating (Ronnie O'Sullivan excepted.) In this book, Clive Everton dissects the history and politics of snooker with relentless tenacity. The central section of the book goes into great detail about the political intrigues that presided over snooker's rise and fall, pulling no punches along the way. It really is 'warts and all', unsparing in its treatment of key administrators such as Geoff Foulds and Rex Williams. It is very eloquently written and the best sections are those concerned with getting to the haert of problematic figures like Alex Higgins and Ronnie O'Sullivan. Everton's look at the latter in particular is a brilliant mixture of sympathy and criticism. Underpinning it all is the author's love of the game, and his concern for its well-being. I've always thought of him as a first-rate commentator and through this book he deserves his reputation as the foremost authority on this popular sport.
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Originally published in hardback in 2007, Black Farce and Cue Ball Wizards is finally released in paperback, with seven new chapters.

There can be few people better qualified than Clive Everton to write about both the on-table and off-table worlds of Snooker. As well as being the owner and editor of Snooker Scene for over forty years, he also was a key member of the BBC commentary team until his somewhat acrimonious departure, which is one of the topics covered in the new chapters.

As the title suggests, there's two main parts to the book. One is the on-table efforts of the players who over the course of the last forty years turned the game into a major television sport, first in the UK and in more recent years, worldwide.

The other details the chronic mis-management of the game over many decades, which Everton, in his role as editor of Snooker Scene, documented in great detail, month by month.

By speaking out so voraciously against what he saw as squandered opportunities and downright corruption, he made several enemies amongst the ruling elite, who on more than one occasion used the funds of the WPBSA, in effect the players own money, to take Everton to court, in futile attempts to silence him.

Because about half of Black Farce and Cue Ball Wizards is devoted to Snooker politics, this maybe isn't the best read for the more casual fan. In order to get the most from the book, you either need to have knowledge of, or an interest in, the business side of the game. But having said that, there's a lot of good insight into all the major players and plenty of information about key tournaments.

After setting the scene of Snooker's early days and the domination of Joe Davis, the story moves on to describe how Snooker emerged from a low ebb in the late 1960's to slowly rise in popularity until in the 1980's it was one of the most popular television sports in the UK, with numerous tournaments and ever-rising prize money.

When Snooker was enjoying this boom-time, the absence of strong management wasn't so apparent. But when the bubble burst and times grew harder, the lack any of clear vision at the top became ever more clear as the game lurched from one crisis to another.

When the book was originally published in 2007, Snooker looked in a pretty sorry state. Prize money was dropping, as was the number of tournaments. A few years later, the arrival of Barry Hearn re-invigorated the game, and today there are more tournaments worldwide, and a general feeling of optimism is in the air. What will happen from now on is still uncertain, but at the moment, if the sport can continue to build on this success, then the future looks brighter than at any time for several decades.

The seven new chapters added to the book cover all the key events since 2007. The return of Barry Hearn, the death of Alex Higgins, some of the match-fixing scandals of recent years as well as Everton's own opinions on his departure from the BBC commentary team.

A great read, and a wonderful insight into the personalities and politics of the game.
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on 24 April 2008
For me this is a book of two halfs. Even though the book goes in chronological order, the things that Clive Everton focus change halfway through the book. The first part looks at more of how the snooker tournaments were set up and more importantly on the snooker players which is very interesting. But after that when he reaches the late 80's and early 90's he sort of forgets the players and tournaments and concentrates on how the game of snooker was run behind the scenes. You can understand why Clive Everton focuses on the snooker bosses as he was treated badly by them as was the game itself. However, the parts where he does this are quite heavy and unless you truly love snooker you won't get much out of them. Overall though this is a good book but if you want a book that focuses on the players and is easier to read I recomend Masters of the Baize by Luke williams and Paul Gadsby.
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on 14 April 2013
A detailed and at times slightly turgid chronicle of the growth of snooker in its modern guise over the last forty years or so, and all the shenanigans over the control of the game and the personality clashes involved. A somewhat sad story in some ways about petty feuds, and sheer incompetence vis-a-vis proper administration of a potentially lucrative business. Clive Everton is certainly better placed than almost anybody else to tell this story considering his history as a competitive player, a journalist (editor of the magazine 'Snooker Scene'), and respected commentator on the BBC, etc.. He writes well, and for the most part fluently, but there are times when he gets a bit bogged down in detailed descriptions of this or that litigation, and I certainly felt I could hear a faint background sound of axes being ground from time to time. I would have liked more general history of the game , more profiles of principal players, and list of championships and the relevant champions. However, an enjoyable read overall, And I think Everton has produced a viable and revealing chronicle, but there will no doubt be certain people who would gladly consign the book to the fire.
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on 16 December 2014
This is something of an overlong tirade against the controlling authority which is not to say it is wrong just a bit repetitive. If you do not pay a proper salary then expenses will be exploited, as we have also seen with MP's. Clive also does not appear to understand the principle of freelance employment and instead of being grateful for long term use at the BBC moans when he is eventually replaced without even getting a gold watch. However I generally enjoyed the book, not least because I enjoy snooker, but it requires a proper and complete update covering recent matters and developments and more about the players and interesting matches with of course some editing and less about some peoples expenses. This book could be much more interesting because of Clive's considerable experience and knowledge but remain informative and still make its point about expenses, it needs another editor assuming it had one before, self editing like self regulation of expenses does not work.
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on 14 May 2012
Marketed as "the inside story on the snooker world", Clive Everton lifts the lid on the murky and bubbling world of snooker administration. Starting with a brief history of the roots of snooker tournament play, the majority of this book goes into great detail on snooker's mismanagement from the 1960s to the 2000s. Everton - who has himself been involved in a number of legal disputes with the leadership of the sport, mainly as a result of his editorship of Snooker Scene magazine - is damning in his judgements, especially regarding Geoff Foulds and Rex Williams. It's clear that we are only getting one side's point-of-view here, but the clear impression given is that snooker has been consistently mismanaged over decades. However, since the author is inexorably linked to some of the disputes in question, it would be interesting to read the views of the other side or of a neutral.
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on 18 February 2014
Great read in places but sadly even updated version does not cover John Higgins' suspension. Found it slightly naive - the author should realise that crap, amateur, self interested and self serving management is a British speciality so the snooker governing body was not that exceptional!
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on 6 November 2013
Clive Everton is a leading authority on the game of Snooker and has produced the best insight into the game. This book is a complelling read for snooker enthusiasts who really wants to know how their game is run. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire book, having met many of the players myself over the years, and how the game was managed by 'ameteurs' who were nothing more than ex-players with no business acumen. They managed to gain and lose an incredible sport which had the potential to be world leading and an Olympic spectacle. Thank you Clive for telling the truth!!
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on 20 December 2013
a good read. bit heavy on the politics in the middle, but bearable. highlights corruption and the stars in the game.
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on 14 October 2013
An excellent book, extremely well written as one would expect from this most eloquent and articulate of commentators; describes back-stage politicking, a brief 'where are they now' relating to a few former players from the so-called golden era of the game, the story of the author's own parting from BBC commentary (great shame, in the view of many, including myself, he was probably the best) and much more. Highly recommended.
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