I AM a huge fan of Barry Hearn. I have known the sporting super-entrepreneur for years and have seen him turn darts into a must-watch sport, reinvigorate snooker, champion boxing and perhaps, most creatively of all, make fishing an entertaining television event. Paint drying and grass growing to follow no doubt.
Well, no sooner had he cleared the dart-boards, the message cards, walk-on girls, audience super-heroes and of course, Phil the Power out of Ally Pally than he was filling it again with his latest venture, Ping Pong. Well, table tennis to you and me.
The World Championships, no less; old fashioned bats, shortened game, double points and all the lights and music so typically a part of Hearn’s brilliant eye for a main chance.
And it made for decent telly.
Spectacular rallies, goodies and baddies and an enthusiastic audience.
And Mr Hearn himself ‘selling’ it on screen so hard it would have made this month’s big movie blockbuster, Les Miserables sound like Carry on Camping.
Who knows whether it will take off but Hearn’s chutzpah has to be admired.
And there was also one delicious moment on Sunday when after the latest stunning rally two world-class players ‘lost’ the ball and were scurrying around on their hands and knees trying to find it.
It was just like going back nearly 50 years when I used to play my dad across the dining room table, with a ‘net’ made up of a set of previously untouched Charles Dickens’ novels.
In the middle of our ‘world championship final’ he would accidentally step on the ball, an uneven contest, shortly after delivering his special ‘Barwick –breaker’ serve - our only ball.
So it was game over, put the books back on the dusty shelf they’d come from and settle back and watch Crackerjack instead!