Dennis Taylor

Dennis Taylor
Dennis Taylor

Dennis Taylor in 2004
Born 19 January 1949 (1949-01-19) (age 62)
Coalisland, County Tyrone
Sport country Northern Irish
Professional 1972–2000
Highest ranking 2 (1979/1980)
Tournament wins
Ranking 2
Non-ranking 13
World Champion 1985

Dennis Taylor (born Denis Taylor, 19 January 1949 in Coalisland, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland) is a retired snooker player, and current BBC snooker commentator. Winner of two ranking events, he is best known for winning the 1985 World Championship, beating World number one Steve Davis on the final black in one of the sport's most memorable finals. He also won the Grand Prix in 1984 and the Masters in 1987. Taylor is also well known for his sense of humour and his trademark oversized spectacles.



Early career

Taylor turned professional in 1972 and made his world championship debut in 1973, narrowly losing to Cliff Thorburn in the first round.[1] After world semi-final losses in 1975 and 1977, Taylor reached his first major final – the World Championship – in 1979, but lost 24–16 to debutant Terry Griffiths.[1][2]

Having reached the semi final of the World Championships in 1984, losing to Steve Davis, Taylor was playing very well as he began the 1984–85 season. In September, however, he was devastated by the sudden death of his mother, which caused him to withdraw from the Jameson International. His first ranking event win came later in 1984, when he won the Rothmans Grand Prix by beating Cliff Thorburn 10–2 in the final.

The 1985 final

Later that season he reached his second world final in 1985, where he faced Steve Davis, world number one, reigning world champion and the dominant player of the 1980s. Taylor trailed 8–0 after the first session, but bounced back to trail 7–9 and 15–17 and then level at 17–17. In an incredibly tense final frame, the score was 62–44 to Davis with only the brown, blue, pink and black still on the table. While Davis needed only the brown, Taylor needed all the colours. He potted a long brown, which he says is one of his best ever under pressure. A tricky blue and a difficult pink also went in, bringing the score to 62–59 to ensure that, for the first time ever, the title would be decided on the black ball. Taylor eventually potted the black after Davis had missed a tricky cut into the top pocket and, amid euphoric scenes watched by over 18 million viewers well after midnight on live BBC television, the Irishman finally took the lead on the final play having trailed Davis throughout the match to lift the much-coveted cup at the relatively advanced age of 36. Davis later drily commented that the match had all been there "in black and white".

The World Championship win added to Taylor's popularity. On his return to Coalisland with the world trophy he was mobbed by the town's inhabitants, and he appeared widely on television thereafter.

Later career

Taylor reached the Rothmans Grand Prix final again in autumn 1985, and again faced Davis in a match that went to a deciding frame, but this time was beaten 10–9. As with all other first-time world champions so far, Taylor succumbed to the "Crucible Curse" on his return to the Crucible Theatre the following year and lost 10–6 to Mike Hallett in the opening match, humorously acknowledging defeat by putting his handkerchief on the end of his cue to resemble a white flag. He won the Benson & Hedges Masters in 1987, beating Alex Higgins 9–8 in the final.

Taylor had a well-publicized row with Higgins at the 1990 snooker World Cup in which the Northern Ireland team were beaten by Canada in the final, which ended with Higgins threatening to have Taylor shot, a threat Taylor understandably took seriously. Shortly afterwards they met in the quarter-finals of the Irish Masters, and a determined Taylor won 5–2. The match was attended by a young Ken Doherty. Taylor also beat Jimmy White 6–5 in the semi-finals but, emotionally drained by the Higgins match, lost 9–4 to Davis in the final. Taylor and Higgins were later reconciled.

Taylor was renowned for the glasses he wore during matches, with their large frame and unusual 'upside-down' structure that is required to avoid a player looking over the top of the lenses when down on a shot. As a member of the Matchroom group of players (managed by promoter Barry Hearn), Taylor performed on the hit single with Chas & Dave, "Snooker Loopy", which peaked at #5 in the UK singles chart. His perceived bad eyesight was parodied in the song with the lines "them long shots, he never ever got. Why the old mind boggles. But nowadays he pots the lot" with Taylor himself singing "'cos I wear these goggles". He was also one of the first players to develop a relative competence in using his left hand to play the game, though he himself said this was partly because he hated to play shots with the rest.

Taylor's form deteriorated gradually in the 1990s and he dropped out of the top 16 after the 1994 World Championship, the last remaining player who had been in the original world rankings in 1976. He retired from playing professionally in 2000.[2] He now commentates on the four televised snooker tournaments each year for the BBC, alongside the likes of Terry Griffiths, John Virgo and Clive Everton. He has also made guest appearances on Big Break, They Think It's All Over, A Question of Sport and The Weakest Link.

In 2005 he was one of the celebrities taking part in the third series of the successful BBC show Strictly Come Dancing, reaching eighth place with his partner Izabela Hannah.

Taylor currently lives in Llay near Wrexham and has been a resident of the village since April 2003. His son Damien is a professional golf coach. His autobiography is entitled Frame By Frame.

World Championship finals: 2 (1 title, 1 runner-up)

Outcome Year Opponent in the final Score in the final
Runner-up 1979 Wales Terry Griffiths 16–24
Winner 1985 England Steve Davis 18–17

Performance timeline

Tournament 1972/
World Championship 1R LQ SF QF SF 1R F 2R QF 1R 2R SF W 1R 2R 2R 2R 1R QF 1R QF 1R
Performance Table Legend
LQ Failed to qualify #R Lost in the early rounds
QF Lost in the quarter-finals SF Lost in the semi-finals
F Lost in the final W Tournament winner
A Did not participate in the tournament NH Tournament was not held

Tournament wins


Ranking wins

Non-ranking wins

Other wins

  • World Trickshot Championship – 1997, 1998

Team events

  • World Cup – 1985, 1986, 1987 (with All-Ireland team)


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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