- Dennis Taylor
Dennis Taylor in 2004
Born 19 January 1949
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.
Taylor turned professional in 1972 and made his world championship debut in 1973, narrowly losing to Cliff Thorburn in the first round. 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.
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.
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. 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.
World Championship finals: 2 (1 title, 1 runner-up)
Outcome Year Opponent in the final Score in the final Runner-up 1979 Terry Griffiths 16–24 Winner 1985 Steve Davis 18–17
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
- Irish Professional Championships – 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987
- Canadian Masters – 1985, 1987
- Thailand Masters – 1985/86
- Carslberg Challenge – 1986
- Carling Challenge – 1986
- Masters – 1987
- Tokyo Masters – 1987
- Kit-Kat Break for World Champions-1985 *Australian Masters-1986
- World Trickshot Championship – 1997, 1998
- World Cup – 1985, 1986, 1987 (with All-Ireland team)
- ^ a b c "Past Masters: Dennis Taylor". Global Snooker Centre. Archived from the original on 22 February 2008. http://replay.waybackmachine.org/20080222215337/http://www.globalsnookercentre.co.uk/files/Players/Global_Europe/Global_Ireland/ni_dennis_taylor.htm.
- ^ a b "Dennis Taylor". WorldSnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. 2007–2010 [copyright date]. "Senior Players" section. http://www.worldsnooker.com/page/SeniorPlayersArticle/0,,13165~2234125,00.html. Retrieved 30 March 2011. Official WPBSA player profile.
World Snooker Champions The early years1927–1940 Joe Davis Post-War to decline Professional Matchplay Championship1952–56 Fred Davis · 1957 John Pulman Challenge matches1964–68 John Pulman The modern era (pre-Crucible) The Crucible Theatre1977 John Spencer · 1978 Ray Reardon · 1979 Terry Griffiths · 1980 Cliff Thorburn · 1981 Steve Davis · 1982 Alex Higgins · 1983–84 Steve Davis · 1985 Dennis Taylor · 1986 Joe Johnson · 1987–89 Steve Davis · 1990 Stephen Hendry · 1991 John Parrott · 1992–96 Stephen Hendry · 1997 Ken Doherty · 1998 John Higgins · 1999 Stephen Hendry · 2000 Mark Williams · 2001 Ronnie O'Sullivan · 2002 Peter Ebdon · 2003 Mark Williams · 2004 Ronnie O'Sullivan · 2005 Shaun Murphy · 2006 Graeme Dott · 2007 John Higgins · 2008 Ronnie O'Sullivan · 2009 John Higgins · 2010 Neil Robertson · 2011 John Higgins Player of the year by the Snooker Writers Association(1983) Steve Davis · (1984) Steve Davis · (1985) Dennis Taylor · (1986) Steve Davis/Joe Johnson · (1987) Steve Davis · (1988) Steve Davis · (1989) Steve Davis · (1990) Stephen Hendry · (1991) Stephen Hendry · (1992) Stephen Hendry · (1993) Stephen Hendry · (1994) Ronnie O'Sullivan · (1995) Stephen Hendry · (1996) Stephen Hendry · (1997) Stephen Hendry · (1998) John Higgins · (1999) John Higgins · (2000) Mark Williams · (2001) Ronnie O'Sullivan · (2002) Peter Ebdon · (2003) Mark Williams · (2004) Ronnie O'Sullivan · (2005) Ronnie O'Sullivan · (2006) John Higgins · (2007) Neil Robertson · (2008) Ronnie O'Sullivan
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