Mark Williams may have gone off the boil in the latter part of the decade but, in its early years, he was the game’s most consistent force.

Ronnie O’Sullivan said, after beating him to reach the 2001 UK Championship final, that he would happily pay for him to go and lie on a beach so that he wouldn’t have to play him again.

With Williams at his best, it wasn’t just about potting and breakbuilding. He had a guile and table-craft that undid many a player.

When he won the 2003 LG Cup it meant he simultaneously held all four BBC titles, something only Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry had previously accomplished.

And when Williams was world no.1 he was as authentic a top dog as those twin titans.

A fiercely talented long potter, Williams was a better player than had been widely recognised. One of his great skills was in finding ways to win matches when not at his best. He invariably scrapped through a couple of rounds before upping his game and peaking at the business end of tournaments.

He trailed his fellow Welshman, Matthew Stevens, 13-7 in the 2000 World Championship final but, with his iron will to win kicking in, recovered to beat him 18-16.

It didn’t go to his head. His laid back nature – a stark contrast to his competitive disposition in the arena – remained despite his success.

He was in some ways a reluctant world no.1. Media interviews did not come easily to him. He didn’t push himself forward or attempt to cultivate an image for himself.

On the table, he was on fire. From February 1998 to November 2003 he successfully negotiated the opening round of 48 successive ranking events, a record that will take some beating.

In this period he won a second UK Championship title, pipping Ken Doherty 10-9 in 2002.

Doherty was also his victim in a thrilling 2003 Crucible final, which Williams led 11-4 before being severely tested and eventually winning 18-16.

He also won a second Wembley Masters title in 2003 and that year became only the third player, after Davis and Hendry, to win the ‘big three’ in the same season.

He thus became – and remains – only the second player to win more than £700,000 in a single campaign.

In 2005, he made a Crucible maximum but Williams’s consistency left him for various reasons, one of which was possibly a sense of contentment at his achievements.

He won the 2006 China Open but would drop out of the top 16 in 2008 after some very disappointing results.

He’s back now and, though not fully returned to his best, is still a player nobody wants to draw.


Anonymous said...

I can remember reading about Mark after he won his first world title, he left the trophy on his driveway all night, luckily for him it was still there the next day lol...

shaun said...

in full flow williams is a joy to watch and can make the game look effortless.No one seems to phase him and sometimes he seems to beat himself but i for one hope to see the welshman back to his best sooner rather than later

Anonymous said...

Good card player.

Anonymous said...

Yeah i heard that story too, didn't he actually leave the trophy in his car all night and a neighbour had to remind him he forgot to take it home?! ALpha

dzierzgul said...

Cliff Thorburn has recalled, that after he won World Championship he had to carry the trophy in the trunk of his car for a month or so. It seems we're lucky that the trophy is still around.
On the other hand, Jimmy White once joked in an interview, that - had he won World Championship - he would make a copy of the trophy and keep the original one for himself. So who knows where the REAL thing actually is...

Anonymous said...

Alex Higgins had the trophy stolen didn't he? There was some story about it anyway.

Anyway, Mark J Williams. What a player! He was my personal anecdote to a lifetime of supporting Jimmy White. He had the same flair but was actually capable of winning titles.

His post frame ball exhibition shots were always a joy to watch. So many century chances were deliberately lost because he wanted to get on with next frame so deliberate fouls and underarm shots galore made him a great entertainer.

His performance from 13-7 down in 2000 was arguably one of the best ever Crucible performances. Certainly until that point Matthew Stevens didn't have any demons which have since dogged his game. What with his 2 semi-final wins over John Higgins in a row, without him we could have seen a Higgins/Stevens dominated decade.

Looking at him now he's a shadow of his former self. It's a real head scratcher but I can't help thinking after he won his last World Title it actually dawned on him what he was achieving and he started to feel real pressure for the first time. He used to look so laid back as if he didn't care if he won or lost, but since then some of the shots he's been regularly missing point to pressure being the cause. So strange. But I like the contentment point of view in this blog.

I hope one day he writes an autobiography because I'd love to know his perception on his own career.

Anonymous said...

Of course he would never have won the 2000 World Championship had he not thrown John Higgins by not shaking his hand before the start of the final session.

And if he hadn't experienced winning it in 2000, he might very well not have withstood the Ken Doherty fightback in the 2003 final.

Anonymous said...

Snooker The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Dave
Not shaking hands is hardly a reason or good excuse for loosing a title. John Higgins is a bright wee lad and surely could have "Thought up" a better one.
There is better excuses around Dave maybe we should create a thread?
Personally I never could win Dave if there is a Tuesday in the week.
Mr hey you