KEN DOHERTY'S STORY
I shall declare an interest immediately: I helped Ken to write the book. He is a snooker player, not a journalist but all of the stories in the book are his; all of the opinions are his.
Some are surprising. He is critical of some players while at the same time staunchly defending Alex Higgins, whose behaviour was worse than anyone who has come along since.
But Ken’s back story explains why. His moment of revelation came when he was a 12 year-old sat with his dad watching the TV as Higgins won the 1982 world title.
Enraptured, it made the boy Doherty want to be a snooker player. The following year, his father died and it seemed to instil in Ken the notion that life is short and he should pursue his passion.
To this end he took the decision a few years later to leave Ireland, where he had emerged as the best amateur in the country, to live in the UK, leaving behind the family with whom he has always been close.
This was a sacrifice which paid off and has informed his general attitude since. He is grateful to snooker for the life it has given him.
Ken grew up with his parents and three siblings. They had to leave their first house due to a campaign of persecution by their landlord and ended up in a three room house shared between the six of them.
But it was a happy family and Ken found in Jason’s, the club in which he would perfect his snooker skills, a second home.
His autobiography does not follow the celebrity staple: a recitation of all the mistakes said celebrity has made while asking for understanding from the reader.
It is in part a diary, which Ken kept when he found himself back at the qualifiers, his playing career under threat.
He discusses his amateur days in Ilford, his early years on the professional circuit, his world title triumph, that missed black at the Masters, his epic 2003 Crucible adventure, what really happened when he was thrown off a Malta airlines flight for being drunk, the John Higgins affair and his views on other players.
But it isn’t just a snooker book. There’s the story of how he met his wife, Sarah, tales of hanging out with U2, what happened when he met the Manchester United team after his 1997 world title victory, his views on art and life in the spotlight.
Ken has never just been a snooker player. He is someone inquisitive about the world. He enjoys travelling and his spare time.
There is also a section in the book in which those who know him best – family, friends, former manager Ian Doyle among them – give their views on him.
Most coalesce around the view that he’s a good bloke, a bit lazy and should have won more.
Ken’s view is that, yes, he could have won more but, equally, he could have won less.
These days Ken lives in a very nice house in Dublin with Sarah and their young son, Christian. Having been out with him, it’s apparent how well known and liked he is in Ireland.
He hasn’t lived a blameless life (who has?) but as an ambassador for his country he has been exemplary.
That he hasn’t been a hell-raiser or had some Hollywood-like ‘journey’ of redemption doesn’t mean he isn’t interesting. Anyone who knows Ken knows he is by far one of snooker’s most interesting characters.
He has come a long way since sitting on that couch watching Alex Higgins win the world title. He dared to dream that one day he could do the same and, through his own efforts, that dream came true.
A couple of places where you can buy Life in the Frame: