20.5.09

PAST MASTERS#1

Each week I will be looking back at the career of a former professional, starting with a player who is now involved in running the professional circuit...

Martin Clark was a great talent who rose to no.12 in the world rankings but whose career was ended by illness.

From Sedgley in the West Midlands in England, a long time hotbed for snooker, Clark was a talented junior who came to the fore in the region's highly competitive local league.

Sporting one of snooker’s best ever perms, he turned professional in 1987 and enjoyed a sensational television debut, beating Dennis Taylor – world champion in 1985 and at the time one of snooker’s best and most recognisable players – 5-0 in the Fidelity International at Stoke.

At the 1989 Mercantile Classic, Clark reached his first ranking event quarter-final and appeared in two more that season.

He was certainly good enough to win a title but never made it to a ranking semi-final. His defeat in ten quarter-finals remains a record.

Clark was a semi-finalist in the 1992 World Matchplay – a major invitation tournament – and recorded plenty of encouraging results against top players but never quite broke through into the upper echelons of the rankings.

Given his talent, he seemed to be heading for the top eight but was in fact relegated from the top 16 after four seasons inside.

His career declined through no fault of his own. Clark suffered from worn vertebrae in his neck. He had to wear a brace and his form inevitably dipped to the extent that he decided to retire.

It was a difficult, dispiriting decision to make but he did so without any complaint.

Clark is still very much involved in snooker as one of the WPBSA’s tournament directors and he is a credit to the governing body. He works hard, he’s very helpful and he has the respect of the players because he was one himself and he understands tournament life from their point of view.

He is a passionate Wolverhampton Wanderers supporter and so has, for once, had a good year at the Molineux.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope he hasn't still got that dodgy perm.

Anonymous said...

Martin is a great guy.

wildJONESEYE said...

he was on TV during the World Championship explaining pocket templates regarding questions about pocket sises.

and also when the table fitters are fitting the tables or re assembling them he is with them as a ex player he knows what players expect from a table.

as a player he was tipped as a challanger to Stephen Hendry being the same age and era but it never happened.

Anonymous said...

Nearly all new players are tipped up by all and sundry as possible world champions. The latest we have are Ding, Trump and Allen. Commentators please note - it's very tiresome.

Anonymous said...

Agreed it is a bit annoying. Ding, Trump, Allen, Cope, Maguire, Selby, Carter, Walden and Robertson have all been mentioned at one time or another this season by BBC commentators as 'future world champions' in some cases 'definite' future world champions and I'm sure I've probably missed a couple out. Just how many world championships do these people think there is going to be? Three a season? Of that list, I'd only seriously say that Selby is a future champion. I'd be amazed if more than 2 on that list scooped the big prize.

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I only ever thought of Clark as a half decent pro after a good junior and amateur career. Wouldn't class him as a past master by any stretch of the imagination, however nice a bloke he is. Who's next? Barry West? Eugene Hughes? Dene O'Kane?

Dave H said...

It's a series on ex-professionals. Nowhere did I say it was about former greats. 'Past Masters' is basically a pun.

Dene O'Kane is a good suggestion, btw.

wildJONESEYE said...

snooker is built around players that once played the game then had to move on for whatever reason....

we all know what great players are doing now its a good idea to show what other players of the past are doing now and i for 1 would be interested in Eugene Hughes,Barry West and Dene O'Kane.

Rigsby said...

I can remember Clark's debut aganist Taylor very well, was an absolute brilliant performance from him, i also agree about the Dene o'Kane suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Was there ever a professional called Bjorn l'Orange? Or am i mistaken? I wonder what he is up to now, if indeed he ever existed. Great name

Rigsby said...

Yes anon there was a player called Bjorn l'Orange don't know much else about him, he did get to the
7th qualifying round at the world championship's in 1996.

http://www.global-snooker.com/professional-snooker-tournaments-archive-world-championship-1996.asp

Chris said...

That's a good article there David. I do think it really helps the game if a former professional helps to run it. I look forward to next week's article.

Anonymous said...

Great piece of scribbling there, Dave. Top banana!!

As an aside, is this the same Martin Clark who penned the book "The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living?"

I was charmed by the story's idiosyncrasies, and surprised by the reversals and coincidences of Clark's peculiar brand of story telling.

The book captures the wonderful peculiarities of one man's world gone temporarily awry...Add to this wonderful scenario and likable ensemble of characters a twice-stolen bundle of money, an interstate treasure hunt, a mysterious, clue-filled letter, a murder trial and a surprise last-minute confession, and the stage is set for a belter of a book!!

Anonymous said...

I've heard a rumour that the China Open is looking like it may not happen next year. Has anyone else heard this? If true that's us down from 8 ranking events last year to just 5 for next season.

Anonymous said...

I jokingly suggested Dene O'Kane earlier in the thread, I didn't get the pun Dave!!

If that's the case perhaps look at players like the Silver Fox, David Taylor, Tony Jones (who I always thought was very under-rated), Gary Wilkinson (great player)?

Anonymous said...

Hann?

oneball2 said...

How about Patsy Hoolihan

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,,708304,00.html

In fact with a bit of research maybe it's worthy of a podcast with instead of the one to one approach, using several interviews, however long it may take to finish.

Dave - you are the man to compile a fitting tribute.

Janie said...

Bjorn L'Orange was a pro and certainly exists.
He's from Norway and oddly enough I was talking to young Norweigan player and his mum last week at the Pontin's festival.

Bjorn is still around but doesn't play much these days, just the occasional event in Norway.

I haven't seen him in a European or IBSF event for about five years now.

Christopher said...

Bjorn L'Orange doesn't play at all now. There's just Kurt Maflin flying the flag for Norwegian snooker at the moment. Maybe the young Norwegian player will carry the torch. I'm guessing it was Mikael Ƙgaard, I remember him telling me about going to Pontins.