For every Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, snooker also boasted its bit-part players: the what-might-have-beens and never-minds, who left their own small but indelible mark upon the sport.
For the duration of the postponed World Championships, the PA news agency is turning its focus on the Crucible characters who never quite made the ccmpetition’s last three days.
Lauded as “a famous drinker in the snooker world” by none other than Jimmy White, it is immediately apparent why Joe O’Boye may be the most talented snooker player you have never heard of.
A leading amateur and, when the mood took him, a prodigious break-builder, O’Boye became better known for his escapades with White on the amateur tour, which tended to involve an inordinate amount of alcohol.
In his 1986 book “Pocket Money”, the writer Gordon Burn describes O’Boye as “tall, blond, brittle-thin, with a face that seems to glow in the dark, thanks to a classic case of what is known as nightclub-pallor.”
O’Boye only made it to the Crucible on one occasion, in 1989, when he was beaten in the first round by Silvino Francisco.
The following year, he made an unwanted piece of history when he was beaten 9-0 in a record 81 minutes by Tony Drago in the first round of the UK Championships.
It is a mark of O’Boye’s natural talent that he has been credited not only by White, but also by the likes of Drago, Willie Thorne and Peter Ebdon, as significant influence in terms of his break-building skills.
O’Boye, who spent much of his career as resident professional at the King’s Cross Snooker Club, seemingly could not care less about his squandered talent.
“I don’t regret anything,” insisted O’Boye some years later. “You’re only young once, and you can’t buy youth.”