Jimmy White - The One and Only DVD
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Jimmy White: The One and Only - reviewed by David Hendon.

 

Jimmy White: The One and Only is, to the best of my knowledge, the only snooker DVD ever to be rated 18 and contain the phrase “Warning: contains extreme bad language” on the jacket. 

It certainly does. Indeed, Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown may blush at some of the expletives flying around courtesy of White and his entourage. 

However, this does not prevent Liam Galvin’s film from being an absorbing, at times revealing portrait of a great snooker player in sad, apparently irreversible, decline. 

The documentary follows White during the 2006/07 season, which he began outside the top 32 for the first time and ended not far off being relegated from the circuit. 

The film starts on a bright note with White beating his old foe, Stephen Hendry, in a Premier League match in Coventry, although this contest was, as anyone who watched it will testify, low in quality. 

 “You won’t find anyone in the game who doesn’t like him,” Hendry tells Galvin, an opinion certainly shared by all those interviewed. 

Ronnie O’Sullivan recalls a match at Wembley where he fell victim to the only player on the circuit who enjoys more support than he does. 

“I was ahead but he did my head in,” he said. “I thought of when Monica Seles got stabbed on court and thought the same thing might happen to me. It was really intimidating.

“People have that love for Jimmy. I wish they had it for me but there’s always that element who think I’m arrogant or flash.

“Put it this way: I’ll never get the MBE, but Jimmy got one.”

A constant presence in the film, as he is in White’s career, is his manager, Kevin Kelly, who features in perhaps the most memorable segment, a lengthy booze up that develops into a full scale slanging match.

In an attempt to silence the ceaseless flow of invective emanating from his friend, White throws three drinks over Kelly and calls him every name under the sun. Eventually, Kelly is seen tumbling to the ground getting out of a limo.

He is later seen mock-fighting with Tony Drago at Prestatyn and bemoaning White’s absence from a lap dancing club, his charge having already gone to bed.

There is much banter, all of it good natured, some involving Alex Higgins, who at one point is seen in the back of a taxi driving through Piccadilly Circus, whereupon he shouts out of the window, “Up your arse, Eros” for no discernible reason.

Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones reveals he met White at the school their respective offspring attended, trying to take photographs on speech night.

“Neither of us could work the camera. Jimmy looked at me and said, ‘Let’s go to the bar.’ We’ve been friends ever since,” Wood recalls.

All the interviewees, including Steve Davis, John Parrott, Willie Thorne and Dennis Taylor, agree that White is one of the greatest players of all time, regardless of his failure to win the World Championship despite six appearances in the final.

The film captures White back at the Crucible for the 2007 championship but only as part of the BBC team.

It is with some poignancy that he sits in one of the players’ chairs in the arena recalling his disappointments at snooker’s most famous venue.

“When I led Hendry 14-8 [in 1992] I was sat here thinking about who I’d thank afterwards,” he said, adding what a blow it had been to miss a routine black in the deciding frame of the 1994 final, again against Hendry, a few balls from becoming champion.

White insists he can still win the title that has always eluded him but, as we know, he failed to qualify in 2008 and will have to win four matches to do so in 2009.

 Nevertheless, what is not in doubt is the affection everyone has for him, both within the game and from those who follow it.

 White’s great qualities as a sportsmen are his modesty in victory and graciousness in defeat but he also possesses genuine warmth for those who support him and their mutual empathy marks him out as one of British sport’s most popular figures.

 He will be around long after he is no longer part of the circuit and this film, about as far from the sort of limp PR puff pieces made about so many sporting figures as it is possible to get, will enhance his man-of-the-people stature, even if it may be a little distasteful in parts for some.
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