Ken Doherty took part in a promotional day for the Northern Ireland Trophy with his good friend Joe Swail in Belfast yesterday.

Ken was a perfect choice and not just because this is an Irish tournament.

He is, and always has been, one of the best ambassadors snooker could ask for.

I’ve interviewed Ken many times after he’s lost a match, sometimes when he’s lost in frustrating circumstances to a player he knows he should have beaten.

He has never been anything less than professional and courteous, answering every question properly and never once spitting his dummy out.

His 1997 world title triumph was a surprise in as much as he beat Stephen Hendry in the final but it was also extremely popular, not least back home in Ireland where tens of thousands turned out to salute him as he paraded the trophy in Dublin.

He has been in two world finals since. To get to the last one in 2003, he won one of the best matches I’ve ever seen to come from 15-9 down and beat the late Paul Hunter 17-16.

What was particularly memorable was the sportsmanship between the two players afterwards. I know Ken would have been as gracious as Paul was had the result been reversed.

Two years ago he was ranked second in the world, his highest ever position. Last season he was fourth but he heads into the new campaign 18th, out of the top 16 for the first time in 15 years.

He doesn’t complain about this or blame anything other than his own results. He will simply turn up at the qualifiers in those events where he isn’t starting out at the final venue and play.

Ken is as down to earth as anyone on the circuit but he is the only snooker player I know of with an interest in renaissance art, in particular the painter Caravaggio.

He married an Australian psychiatrist, Dr. Sarah Prasad, and the couple have a young son, Christian.

I have no doubt that Ken will move into the media and commentary in the next year or two. His genial manner is perfect for it.

But I hope he continues to play for the foreseeable future and would personally be very happy to see him return to the top 16.

Snooker needs players who demonstrate a commitment to their sport beyond merely turning up and pocketing the money.

Ken Doherty still has much to give to a sport he has done more than most to promote during his 18 years on the circuit.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. I had the pleasure of Ken's company on our table at last year's Pot Black. He is was one of the most friendly, funny and unassuming people you could wish to meet. He was actually interested and joined in our conversations. (A lot of so called plyers wouldn't even make the effort). As soon as he had won Pot Black he actually came over to our table to show us the Trophy and have his photo taken with us before he did any interviews. Even after the interviews he came and had a drink in the bar with us so we could have a good look at the trophy with him.

Thoroughly top fella and a pleasure to have met him.

andy said...

A few years ago he played Ricky Walden in the final of the Swiss Open and lost. He got a runner's up trophy, signed it, and gave it to 2 teenage girls who were snooker enthusiasts, then hung around in amongst the huge crowd in the club.

Then we all moved upstairs for food and drinks and he was sat on our table chatting to everyone about everything and anything while eating and drinking. It was a good nosh up, a good crack, and 2 portions he had too!!!

Nothing was too much trouble. He's now my father's favourite player after that evening. :o)


Anonymous said...

i met him a few years ago and he bought me a bag of chips. he was in the fish n chip shop at the time and he asked me if i wanted some chips. i said yeah so he bought me a bag and he put salt n vinegar on too. i dont think other players would of done that

Anonymous said...

i like battered sausages with my chips. my mum always has fish and my uncle sometimes has a bread bun with his chips

Matt said...

Can only echo the other comments, always a gent at the Crucible, had many a photo taken with him, he signed my Ken t-shirt as well and even let me bore him to death about my Law degree once. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

i like baked potatoes

they are much more healthier than chips

Donal said...

I can't think of many other players with a similar level of "natural talent" who've achieved as much as Ken has. More to the point, I can think of many players with more talent who've achieved considerably less (Steven Lee, Mattthew Stevens, and of course Jimmy White spring to mind).

He's never had the break-building talents of O'Sullivan, Higgins or the long-potting of Williams, but what he lacks he's more than made up for with flawless shot selection and an impeccable temperament.

Anonymous said...

the nicest guy on the circuit- it was a shame that his best performances last season were in non-ranking tournaments (Malta and Masters) or he would still be well in the top 16. Although he has great touch and tactical knowledge Ken also has flair- I have seen matches of his when on fire and blowing other players off the table- I particularly remember a match against Mark Williams in Scotland a few years back where Mark became a virtual member of the audience!

Donal said...

I remember hearing about that match against Williams (though I didn't actually see it). Apparently Clive Everton claimed it is was one of the finest performances he'd ever seen.

Anonymous said...

Ken is my favorite player and probably my favorite sportsman. I think he is a great player and seems a lovely man. I would love to meet him someday, I have quite the school girl crush on him :)