The countdown of the greatest names in Welsh snooker continues with numbers 7 to 5...
7) RYAN DAY
Years on tour: 1999-present
Highest ranking: 8
Day is yet to win a ranking title but he certainly has the game to do so and has emerged as one of snooker’s leading lights in the last couple of years.
In his first season, he staged a dramatic comeback from 4-0 down to beat Steve Davis 5-4 in the Welsh Open. Yet it took five more years for him to reach his first ranking event quarter-final at the same tournament.
In the meantime, he won the qualifying event for the Masters and built a reputation as a dangerous opponent. Day reached his first ranking final at the 2007 Malta Cup, losing 9-4 to Shaun Murphy. He was beaten 10-6 from 6-2 up by Dominic Dale in the 2007 Shanghai Masters final. John Higgins beat him 9-7 in the final of the 2008 Grand Prix.
Day is now the Welsh no.1 and, though he developed at a slower rate than contemporaries such as Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy, is widely regarded as a likely tournament winner.
Sport runs in his family. His brother, Rhys, is captain of Aldershot Town F.C.
6) DARREN MORGAN
Years on tour: 1987-2006
Highest ranking: 8
Morgan was the leading Welsh player of the 1990s after the decline of the ‘holy trinity’ of Ray Reardon, Doug Mountjoy and Terry Griffiths.
He won the 1987 World Amateur Championship and five years later joined the top 16. He spent two seasons in the top eight and appeared in 18 ranking event quarter-finals, five semi-finals and two finals, losing 9-3 to Stephen Hendry in the 1992 Welsh Open and 9-3 to Dave Harold in the 1993 Asian Open.
Morgan’s biggest title was the 1996 Irish Masters, when he beat Steve Davis 9-8 in the final. He lost 9-8 to Stephen Hendry in the final the following year. Strangely, he won a series of tournaments that were discontinued: the 1991 Welsh Championship (which became a ranking event the following year), the 1991 One-Frame Knockout (the final of which was, bizarrely, best of three) and the 2000 Pontin’s Professional.
Morgan was outspoken and passionate. He once claimed the boxer Prince Naseem Hamed had put him off at the Crucible when he sat in the front row. Hamed wasn’t there in 1994 when Morgan featured in the semi-finals.
He still plays and indeed won the seniors title at the 2007 World Amateur Championship. He also runs a snooker club and will be commentating for BBC Wales at the Welsh Open.
5) MATTHEW STEVENS
Years on tour: 1994-present
Highest ranking: 4
Stevens was, perhaps still is, good enough to be world champion but has narrowly lost two world finals and been beaten in three Crucible semi-finals. It’s hard to believe these haven’t eroded his confidence.
He led Mark Williams 13-7 in the 2000 final and was ahead against Shaun Murphy in 2005 but could not apply the finishing touches. He has lost six times in seven ranking tournament final appearances.
He did win the 1999 Scottish Masters, 2000 Wembley Masters and 2003 UK Championship which remains, almost unbelievably for such a great talent, his only ranking title.
But Stevens’s career must have been affected by two hammer blows off the table. In 2001, his proud father, Morrell, who travelled the circuit with him, died of a heart attack. In 2006, his best friend, Paul Hunter, died of cancer at just 27.
His 13-12 defeat from 12-7 to Shaun Murphy at the Crucible in 2007 cost him his elite top 16 place. He has failed to return although his hopes were boosted by a run to the Bahrain Championship final this season.