30.1.09

THE GREATS OF WELSH SNOOKER...THE WINNER

I hope you've enjoyed this look back at the greats of Welsh snooker.

Here are numbers 1 and 2. I'm off to run away and hide...


2) MARK WILLIAMS
Years on tour: 1992-present
Highest ranking: 1

Were this countdown repeated in ten years time, Williams may well come out top but, as it is, he is at a disadvantage because his career is continuing and therefore harder to put into context.

A junior boxer, he has brought his fearless style of snooker to the fore to land many a knock-out blow on the table and win two world titles, two UK Championships and two Wembley Masters. With 16 ranking titles to his name, he lies fifth in the all time list.

Williams is considered by many to be the best single ball potter who ever picked up a cue. His other great strength was his will to win and ability to secure victory in any sort of frame, either with a big break or through a tactical struggle.

He has also been a master at handling the pressure, never more so than in the 1998 Masters final when he recovered from 9-6 down to edge Stephen Hendry 10-9 on a re-spotted black. He also came from 13-7 down to beat Matthew Stevens in the 2000 world final and fought off a Ken Doherty recovery to win at the Crucible in 2003.

Williams was an authentic a world no.1 as Hendry and Steve Davis. At one stage he held all four BBC titles and won his opening match in a record 48 consecutive ranking events. He is the only player, other than Davis and Hendry, to have won the game’s ‘big three’ titles - the world, UK and Masters – in the same season.

He has also proved to be a good traveller, winning three tournaments in Thailand and two in China. His 147 at the Crucible in 2005 was a demonstration of his break building prowess.


1) RAY REARDON
Years on tour: 1968-1991
Highest ranking: 1

Reardon was one of the first snooker stars of the television age and played a leading role in the sport becoming the much loved staple of the TV schedules in the years that followed. He was a tough match player but possessed of a warm personality and a great audience favourite.

At 14, he started work as a miner. He was once buried alive for three hours and later joined the police force. He won his first major amateur title at the age of 17, captured the Welsh amateur crown on six successive occasions and in 1964 won the English amateur trophy.

There were fewer professional players in the 1970s than today but Reardon won six world titles in an era that included his great rival John Spencer, the mercurial, unpredictable Alex Higgins and the hard edged Eddie Charlton as well as players such as Dennis Taylor and Cliff Thorburn.

People forget now that Higgins only just beat him – 18-15 – to win the world title in 1982 and Reardon was a Crucible semi-finalist at the age of 52 in 1985.

When he was at his peak, there were fewer tournaments to play in and the ranking system was in an embryonic form but he was the undisputed no.1 for a decade when snooker was typically tactical. I believe he could have adapted his game to compete at the top today had he been born later.

He won the Masters in 1976 and was in three other finals in this tournament and is the oldest man to win a ranking event, scooping the 1982 Professional Players Tournament at the age of 50.

His career declined when he began to wear glasses but he still played to a high standard and beat the then imperious Steve Davis 5-0 in the first round of the 1988 British Open. Reardon did not take to playing in the qualifiers and retired in 1991. He later mentored Ronnie O’Sullivan during his run to a second world title in 2004. Just recently, BBC Wales gave him a lifetime achivement award in recognition of his great career.

15 comments:

jamie said...

I wanted to argue but i cant see anything wrong with it, the order is perfect. I mean who else is the outside the ten. I think we should have more lists like this. I suggested it before but best playeer never to hav won a ranking event

jamie said...

I wanted to argue but i cant see anything wrong with it, the order is perfect. I mean who else is the outside the ten. I think we should have more lists like this. I suggested it before but best playeer never to hav won a ranking event

Sparky said...

I'd definitely would like to have seen Gary Owen on the list, I thing he outranks both Cliff Wilson and Wayne Jones. He was one of the 'big three' that turned professional at the same time in 1968, that is Owen, Ray Reardon and John Spencer.

A world finalist in 1969 and a major force in the first half of the 70s. However, he coulddn't maintain his power, and never made it to the Crucible from 1977 onward.

Great choice for the no1 spot on the list, though!

Anonymous said...

Now it's time for the English top 10!

Anonymous said...

"I'm off to run away and hide" - wise decision. I'm enraged! Mark definitely should be at the first place!!!! ;)

MJW said...

I think Dave has it about right and as he said, it may change in ten years.

Anonymous said...

Good list.
Cliff Wilson a true legend and rightly in this list.
Special mentions to Terry Parsons, Steve Newbury and Alwyn Lloyd too perhaps.
Unsung heros and great Welsh players, Parsons especially was exceptional.

Janie said...

Yes I'd like to add special mentions to the amateur achievements of Gary Owen, Terry Parsons, Ian Preece, Michael White.

Ian Preece still remains the youngest winner of the World Amateur, while Michael White won the World Grand Prix ages just 14.

and a little mention for "The Professor" Mario Berni.

Claus Christensen said...

Forgive me for going off-topic Dave but could you write a few words about the back-to-back maximums from Ronnie & Jimmy? Do you know if footage exists?

Anonymous said...

I Heard about this at their exhibition the following night.Would also love to see some footage.Jimmy beat Ronnie the night I was there by the way,he looked to be cueing nicely.But I suppose you can't read to much into exhibitions,it's the same thing as Hendry hitting the ball great in practice.

Anonymous said...

It must have been amazing to be there. What's more amazing is that it is on World Snooker's website - they are not usually so quick with news.

Anonymous said...

If Ronnie's involved they fall over themselves to big him up

Janie said...

That maybe because I sent the story to wsa!

Chris Turner said...

Looking at things another way, based on the official world rankings, the players who have held the Welsh number one position works out almost the same as your list.

Mark Williams - 10 times
Ray Reardon - 10
Terry Griffiths - 7
Darren Morgan - 3
Doug Mountjoy - 2
Matthew Stevens - 1
Rayn Day - 1

Danny bleackley said...

I once sat round a table in the snowdonia lounge at Pontins Prestatin in the company of Cliff wilson,Alwyn lloyd,Terry parsons,Dilwyn john and Ray reardon.You can imagine the standard of banter.Absolute classic,and never to be repeated.