Steve Davis the Golden Nugget who turned Romford snooker loopy
- Credit: EMPICS Sports Photo Agency
Snooker star Steve Davis rose to fame in the 1980s and has been lauded one of the best players the game has ever produced.
Hailing from Plumstead, south London, he made his name as a teenager playing at Romford Snooker Club.
“It was part of my training, my apprenticeship. I felt like it was my spiritual home.”
During these early days, Steve faced a two-hour journey to the town, three times a week: “I used to get a bus to Woolwich Ferry, walk through the tunnel, a bus to Manor Park then an 86 to Romford, which on a Wednesday was horrific, because all the grannies were out in force for market day! Little did I know I could have got a train…”
The people in the club were always “interesting”, Steve said.
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“The players were serious, but there were also hustlers, off-duty police, ne’er-do-wells and people who just liked a game in their lunch hour,” he added.
“And if you couldn’t verbally defend yourself, you’d get ripped to pieces!”
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Some characters remain a fond memory, such as the Lazarus family, who were synonymous with the Romford area.
“Bobby Lazarus, he was funny. He used to spend so much time in the club.
“One Sunday, he was playing on table one and his wife walked up the stairs and threw the Sunday dinner on the table!”
Crucial to Steve’s early success was the support of his fellow club members and the wider Romford community.
His devoted “Romford Roar” followed him around the country, while he also garnered a number of nicknames, including Nugget.
“I was their Golden Nugget, because I was basically money in the bank.
“The Ginger Magician was also coined there and the Romford Robot.
“The ‘Interesting’ tag came a lot later.”
As Steve’s star rose, so did the profile of Romford Snooker Club, then part of the Lucania chain.
It became one of the most famous clubs in the country during the early 1980s, due to its innovative Matchroom.
Steve said: “It had two rooms, one with 13 tables and a smaller one with six.
“We’d move all the tables, put one in the middle, put chairs around and Ray Reardon, John Spencer and Alex Higgins would come down.”
Health and safety wasn’t as much of a concern back then.
“Alex came down for a 65-frame, four-day match with me, and the crowds were hanging off the rafters.
“If you think about it now, it’s frightening. It had one entrance, no fire exit and 200 to 300 people in the room!”
Times have changed.
“I think it’s the only snooker club in the Romford area now,” said Steve.
Since retiring from professional snooker, Steve has kept busy, playing exhibition matches all over the country, as well as hosting his long-running Interesting Alternative Show on Billericay’s Phoenix FM.
He even has a new role as a club DJ, playing progressive rock and electronic music, and is involved with schemes which use snooker to inspire young people to learn.
Steve’s passion for snooker remains and one issue close to his heart is the future of the sport in terms of attracting young players.
“Kids aren’t going into snooker clubs like they used to,” he said.
“Viewing figures are still good, but it’s tough to get kids to go up the stairs to a snooker club on their own.
“You need a parent, or you need to be totally besotted and brave enough to walk in there on your own.”