And Tony Drago has done it. He beat Roy Stolk 5-4 tonight to win the European play-off and secure his return to the professional circuit.

It was not without anxiety for this most anxious of players. He trailed 4-3 and needed a snooker in the eighth frame but duly got it and made a break of 53 in winning the decider.

Well done to Tony. I know this will mean an awful lot to him.

He said: "After 25 years as a professional, I can't tell you how much I missed it.

"I couldn't have done any of this without Jimmy White. He gave me the keys to his club so I could go and practice and he reignited my love for the game. We practiced together a lot and I fell in love with the game again. He was always my hero and I want to thank him publicly.

"When you come to a tournament and you know you have to win it that is huge pressure. If anyone doubted before that I do have the bottle, then I have proved to them and myself that I have a big heart and the bottle to stand up under the pressure."


Anonymous said...

Delighted for the Tornado go on Tony.

Anonymous said...

Excellent news. Well done Tony. And to all those who will say a veteran regaining his tour place isnt good for snooker, dont blame Tony, blame the WPSBA for not opening up the game and tour properly giving young talent an easier opportunity to firstly get on tour then to have a fair chance of staying on by starting on a level playing field with all the deadwood drifting about aimlessly on the main tour

RichP said...

I like Tony but to be fair it does highlight how far the standard of the sport has dropped which is not surprising with the number of snooker clubs up and down the country closing.

Matt said...

Fair play to him, as much as I like to see good young players on the tour (and there are some), it is also good to see veterans like Tony still giving it a go. Indeed the young guns will only learn from the older guys I'm sure.

Good to see him back.

Janie said...

Tony is sat here right beside me reading the blog and the comments - so keep it clean guys!!

He's gone off to tell Darren Morgan that he's now being called a veteran too!!

He says thanks Dave and he'll give you loads of nice quotes next season!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Tony, i called you a veteran. Good luck for next year, heres hoping Jimmy gives u advice on battling out to get the vital wins to earn ranking points 2 ensure tour survival at least then a rise up the rankings like Jimmy has.
Hope to see you at the tv stages again hopefully. You make my top 4 most naturally gifted flair players of all time with the Rocket, Whirlwind and Hurricane. Malta will be proud of you 2nite. All the best from Witz78

Mig said...

I wonder if this will put the Malta Cup back in the snooker calendar again.

Anonymous said...

"I like Tony but to be fair it does highlight how far the standard of the sport has dropped which is not surprising with the number of snooker clubs up and down the country closing."

Actually the standard in mainland Europe is probably rising - they just don't usually have anyone of the class of Drago in this competition.

Yes, this tournament was not open to UK players so the closing of snooker clubs there has nothing to do with it.

Monique said...

I was a very good match and Roy Stolk proved himself very solid under pressure. Not the highest standard of snooker surely, more than decent though, and enthralling. Tony's joy aswell as his coach and Alex Borg's were absolutely endearing to watch.

regarding the young players ... I asked myself a question, because they aren't many 16-18 at the tournament. In Belgium and probably in most European countries shool is mandatory up to 18 and this is the time of the year kids have their yearly exams to be allowed to next class ?

Anonymous said...

I like to see the "oldies" like Drago, White, Parrott or Davis.

Pete@cuesporttv said...

It is great news for Tony, I was interviewing him at a UK Pool tour event in January and in that interview you could still see how passionate he was about the game of snooker. Despite the success he has had on the Professional pool circuit. It will be tough to stay on the tour for a second year though unless he can string together some great results.

Anonymous said...

drama till the end

a real malteaser

Anonymous said...

Good to see Drago back. I think all this talk of 'emerging talent' is way wide of the mark. There's only 5 players in the top-32 that are under 25. In fact there are more players aged 35+ (9 I think). One is in his 50s! That's over 25% of the games elite that many would consider past their best. Maybe older players should be pensioned off to make way for the 'young guns'?

Anonymous said...

Fantastic news ...

And unless his diet has changed substantially over recent years, even better news for McDonalds.

I'm going out right now to see if you can get shares in chicken McNuggets!

Anonymous said...

Well done Tony! I think this highlights one of the strengths of the game, and why it should get better publicity: nobody old or young is truly out of it until they can't hit another ball. There are amazing contrasts, players young and old can hit purple patches and play better than anyone else. And it's how they react to their ups and downs that gives them the "character" that everyone's obsessed with and seems to think can be bought from a PR man.

Witz78 said...

The EMERGING TALENT is there. Its just nearly impossible for them to break through onto tour and stay on if they do. The really outstanding talents like the trumps and wenbos hit the ground running and rise rapidly up the rankings. But most end up trapped at the base ladder of the tour and have 2 much 2 do to gain enough points to make the top 64 by end of the season. For starters they recieve the bare minimum starter points so they are already up against it, as they are in the bottom teir they only get 200pts if they lose. All the new tour players are competing in the last96 stage of tournaments so half of them automatically go out of every tournament at this stage so its far too cut throat in a handful of best of 9 matches which determine their fate. With fewer rankers this year itll be even harder for players to scramble wins they need to stay on tour. The deadwood on tour, those who are never going to make it to the top but win a couple of matches a season to consolidate a top 48 or 64 ranking consistent

Anonymous said...

Tony Drago is phenomenally talented so it's not that surprising he's gained his place back on tour. It doesn't say anything about the standard of the youngsters breaking through, just that Drago has star quality which is why so many of us have enjoyed watching him down the years.

Anonymous said...

well dune tony draggo

he is won of my favoright players.

Anonymous said...

I agree with post at 11:34. If these players were good enough they would win more than a couple of qualifiers against journeymen pros. The truth is they are not good enough when they come up against these journeymen. Just because they are excellent at amateur level does not mean they are that good at pro level.

andy said...

Ah the big man is back!! He's great to watch and I would hope to see him at the televised stages of a couple of the tournaments next season.

I hope he's replaced his old (ahem, smashed) watch with a newer stronger Swiss watch!! ;o)


jamie said...

Even more reason to get to Prestatyn next season with two of my favourites Drago and Wattana back in town. Does anyone know how far the venue is from Prestatyn railway station? Also can you stay overnight?

Dave H said...

It's about a 15 minute walk. They have 'apartments' on site you could stay in or there are B+Bs nearby.

Anonymous said...

or stay with Dave - in his luxury motorhome ...

or stay with wildjoneseye - in his cell ...

Anonymous said...

I take it there's no recordings of these matches that I can watch?

mathsisfun said...

Does this mean Tony Drago is in theory one win away in qualifying from playing Jimmy White?

Fingers crossed! I really enjoyed the qualifying last year, hopefully this should make it better.

John From London Town MBE said...

Tony Drago will be someone the younger players will see as a 'scalp' after having seen him play on the tv when they were younger.

Good Luck to the bloke. He is obviously there on merit with some hard work thrown in.

Anonymous said...


all this will do is stop the progress of the sport. i dont balame Drago or Wattana they are there on Merit theres no doubt about that but it sais a lot about the future if a 24 year pro is the up and comming player of 2009.

Anonymous said...

well done Tony

John From London Town MBE said...

Well 5.20pm Anonymous.

That all depends on how you look at it. If you narrow it down to your point, then you can also say that at the age of 43, anything is possible. Progress can be judged in different ways. By players coming through? I don't think we should be worrying about measuring progress on that. Measure it on Sponsorship, & what the game attracts financially, not on the players it attracts. Well not yet anyway.

The man is a character & will be good for the game.

Not sure what you'd say about me if I made a comeback & I'm 44 (laugh).

Anonymous said...

drago has done nothing for 24 years as a 20 something and as a 30 something. suerly as a 40 something he will lose every match convinsingly and head back down.

im not saying he shouldnt be there because hes a charicter but it will only be good for the game if hes at venues infront of a crowd....

cubicles in prestatyn or the istutute sheffield im afraid is all he has to look forward to.

mate he deserves his chance because he has earned that chance on the table nothing has been handed to him on a plate but you got to ask the question the genaration after the Mark Allen and Ding is non existant if a pro thats been slipping out of the tour for the last 5 years all of a sudden is back on.

Anonymous said...

The suggestion that he did nothing as a professional is a little harsh. He was ranked number 10 in 1998 and he made 1 ranking final the previous year and also made the Mita World Masters in 1991.
No doubt many might say with some strength that he didn't garner the ranking or titles he should have because of his temprament. But world number 10 has to be respected.

Anonymous said...

And he wasn't off the tour for 5 years - I think it was only one.

Anonymous said...

well hes been slipping for 5 years to the point he droped off last year now he is back.

fair play to him and so he should if he is good enough but wheres the future ?

Anonymous said...

yes respect WN10 he reached however it took him 12 years to get there first time round. he might get back there in his late 50s lol

Janie said...

15 minutes Dave, you must walk slow!! Even i can stroll from the station to the centre is about 8 minutes!!

Over the past season many more fans are making the trips to Prestatyn for the qualifiers.

With so many well known names on show, the chance to watch the emerging talent and 16 matches a day to watch, it's pretty good value for a few days skiving off work!

For those coming from overseas, it's a pretty easy trip. There are many cheap flights into Manchester and the train brings you to Prestatyn with one change at the main Manchester Picadilly station.

And while on the subject of snooker at Prestatyn, the PIOS has a myriad of talent, old and new, from all over the world. already for the new season I can confirm that as well as some of the demoted pros coming to pios, there are players from china, thailand, india, denmark, brasil, germany, belgium etc etc heading for the pios.
the same chalet deals are available for the pios and we manage to crack through 64 matches on the opening day!!

Janie said...

Why on earth has snooker suddenly become so ageist?

I can't see any relevance to the player's age.

Players seems to be perceived as over the hill if they haven't made the top 16 by the time they're 25.

If there's one player in his 50s, eg Steve, and everyone else is in their 20s, then, yes, Steve's ability at his age, is relevant, but otherwise it's about a player's maturity on and off the table, not his actual age in years, that's what's relevant to what the player will or won't achieve.

Oddly enough, in Drago's case, he strikes me more relaxed and in control of his temperament and emotions than he was in his youthful days. So in his case his comeback may not be as short-lived as many suspect.

Anonymous said...


its not agist. i have nothing against them trying for it but seriously can you see him getting out of pontins ?

because i cant.

i want new blood to make strides up the rankings and its not happening is it and having wattana and drago who failed last season back again its like a bloody yoyo.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Janie on this one and anon 11:15pm you're spot on it's not agist :)

jamie said...

So Janie can you stay in the centre or does it have to be in a b and b or an apartment?

Anonymous said...

Snooker The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared.
Dear Mr tg
I think you were out of order attempting to traduce and ridicule Tony Drago. The lad put more "bums on seats" than a few past world champions.

Tonys big fault was his impatience to please and produce "Entertaining Snooker" just like Ronnie O. Tony dident realise that to entertain the "Bums on seats" requires two entertainers taking turns showing there skill.

Tony had really only one fault. Playing the game he loved as fast as he could MOVE as opposed to as fast as he could THINK. Tony should get help to analise his game and find the correct permatation as he is positively a snooker entertainer with only one person in oposition. Mr hey you

Anonymous said...

Snooker The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared.
Dear BBC 606.
The reason for the decline in snooker is simply poor and weak management and the ever presence of cliques. The game is almost one hundred years old and refuses to change and be up graded. There has always been discord between every WPBSA board and the "Voice of Snooker" Clive Everton.

Because the game is being played at a very high standard and by more people everybody wrongly thinks it has reached its peak. The game was about to die of boredom in the eighties when the tobacco companies stepped in with generous subsidies that made snooker independent of other mere sponsors.

The members (Cliques) rejected Barry Hearn and Ian Doyle's obvious leadership qualities and choose instead a close shop policy with a "Rota System" of administration of "Whose turn next". The game would be thriving now with Ian and Barry’s expertise.

Granted Ian and Barry would have made a few bob for there own company’s but would have invested wisely with snooker's future in mind and not bullied by the members greed for greater prize moneys.
The WPBSA next rejection was refusing the ownership of a copyright which would have given W/S financial returns to equal the long lost Tobacco Subsidy. Once again the strong cliques with personal and selfish interests.

The Joe Davis coaching method should have been acquired harnessed and sold to all players (annual fee) that wished to teach and coach the game. There is more money made from coaching in this country alone to make sponsorship an extra benefit.

Roughly every thirty plus break player coaches snooker as a tax free perk plus many snooker pros take on coaching as a business.
The game will die without the strength and discipline of a copyright and the game will die without the players consent to forfeit a tax free perk. Mr hey you

Seifer Almasy said...

Hi Dave, not sure about how you organise your blog but I would like to raise the issue of ranking points with you.

I have always felt that they should be based on frames won and not by made up numbers.

A system based on frames won makes absolutely certain of consistency. Certainly the Worlds would remain the top prize in rank points (since it has more frames played overall) but it wouldn't be ridiculously disproportional like it is now.

With so few rank events, making this system fair is a must. I hope you are able to bring this situation to those higher up because the present system is failing.

The other gripe I have is with the cloth. They should maintain absolute consistency. I opt for the early 90's cloths and stick with it. It is no good keep changing it.

Seifer Almasy said...

I also agree with 12:00 PM anon.

The game is stagnated. It has not changed. It refuses to have shot clocks in ranking events (not the big 3).

It refuses to allow a louder atmosphere in a few events (again added ones) like Darts does.

It refuses to allow mixed doubles (male and female vs male and female) or expand itself.

What we did get was super 6....a game which simply gtakes away even more skill and speeds up the game by removing points. This is NOT the way to go. The shot clock is the only answer for this and it should have a place in a few events.

There are so many ways that we can cater to new audiences, some I have mentioned. But whilst the management refuses to yield and gives us poxy gimmicks like super 6, it is little wonder the sport is suffering.

147's cannot sexthis sport up, the only thing that can is new formats, new ideas, bring women into the game via mix doubles for example

Try new things