Like many other Islanders he has been plagued by a viral infection which knocked him back not once, but twice.
During most of that time sport wasn’t his main priority.
However, he did watch Ronnie O’Sullivan thrash former snooker world champion, Stephen Hendry, with a display of snooker which another ex-world champion, Steve Davis, was positively drooling over.
‘He’s up there with the best of them; Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher, the best in the world,’ said Davis.
I know what he means. O’Sullivan, who plays snooker both right and left handedly, makes the game seem extraordinarily easy, the way that he plays it – which is normally the sign of any great artist.
As for comparisons between O’Sullivan with Woods and Schumacher? – Can you really compare people in sport, one to another? O’Sullivan himself thought it ludicrous, when told afterwards, and described Davis as ‘mad’ for even suggesting such a comparison.
What was also interesting, however, was that afterwards Hendry – five times a world champion – contrasted himself to Steve Davis who, at 50, is unlikely ever to win the world title again. ‘I don’t want to enter this tournament (at the Crucible) with the same kind of support Steve gets,’ said Hendry, afterwards.
‘The time the crowd decides to support me because they expect me to lose, is the day I’ll hang up my cue for good.’
I know what he means – Davis isn’t expected to win major tournaments any more. But ‘Mr Interesting’ as he was known (ironically) at the height of his powers, has achieved veteran status and with it the right to play the game differently to the others. He admits he plays it now, because it’s fun. The others play it because they expect, if not to win, to at least make it to a final. That, and to take home more money for playing a parlour game than most us have ever dreamed of.
So is O’Sullivan better than Steve Davis was in his heyday? Probably. But just as it’s difficult to compare one sportsman with another, from two different sports, so it is almost impossible to compare one player, in his time, with another, in his (or her) time. Suffice it to say that O’Sullivan reeled in eight games in a row against Hendry, with a show of snooker that mere words can’t describe.
Meanwhile Muhammad Ali was the greatest sportsman I’ve ever watched while Kevin Hector is a hero for two, no, make that three reasons. First, because he played No 9 for Derby. Second, because of his name. ‘Kevin Hector’ actually sounds like an English footballer, although from another era. And for all of our foreign imports, I can’t think of a name that is more stoically English. And thirdly? – Because after giving up his day job, Kevin Hector, unlike Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry or Ronnie O’Sullivan, had to pay off his mortgage and is now a postman. If you’re ever on holiday in Derby, he might even be the postie who brings a letter to you …