Jimmy White isn't at the Crucible this year, indeed it remains to be seen whether he will ever play there again in the World Championship.

But for many he is synonymous with the event, for the drama and rollercoaster ride he gave his many fans for the best part of two decades.

White turned 50 today. It doesn't seem that long since he was the pale-faced kid with a shot-making genius which rivalled that of his great friend Alex Higgins and the common touch which made him effortlessly popular with a generation of snooker fans.

The teenage White bunked off school to play snooker and his head teacher eventually condoned his truancy on the basis that at least he knew where he was.

White's talent was obvious and he became English amateur champion at 16 and world amateur champion at 18.

In his first season as a professional in 1981 he qualified for the Crucible, losing only 10-8 to Steve Davis.

The following year he played what remains one of the Crucible's greatest ever matches, poised for a place in the final at the age of 20 when he led Alex Higgins 15-14 and 59-0.

But Higgins produced a miracle match saving clearance and won the decider too to deny White.

Many felt it would only be a matter of time until the man nicknamed the Whirlwind won the biggest title of them all but it wasn't to be.

He came back strongly from 12-4 down to Davis in the 1984 final but was beaten 18-16.

It took White six years to reach another world final where the ultra attacking game he had pioneered and Stephen Hendry taken to another level was apparent by the speed of their match - average frame time 12 minutes.

Hendry won that one 18-12. In 1992 he came from 14-8 down to beat White 18-14. In 1993 he drubbed him 18-5 with a session to spare.

Then in 1994, the biggest sickener of all, when White snatched at a black at 17-17. Hendry, of course, cleared up again.

White had also lost to John Parrott 18-11 in 1991. There were to be no more finals, although he did gain a satisfying 10-4 first round victory over Hendry in 1998.

It would be wrong to define White purely by his six world final defeats.

He won the Masters in 1984. He was UK champion in 1992. He made a Crucible 147 earlier that year.

He won ten world ranking titles, including the 2004 Players Championship at the age of 41.

But more than all of that, he provided his vast array of supporters with an emotional connection to snooker. It wasn't about pure results, it was about the journey. It was about Jimmy.

White would never claim to have been a model professional. He had those essential flaws associated with the truly gifted. Maybe if he could he would go back in time and change the way he prepared for tournaments. But he can't. All he can do is look forward, and he does because he isn't finished with snooker yet.

He is still very popular on the exhibition circuit and of course he is still playing on the main tour. He practises hard and still loves the game as much as ever.

Snooker should raise a glass to Jimmy White on his 50th birthday. He remains one of the game's greatest characters: an irrepressible working class hero whose tumultuous thrill-ride through the decades has kept many a fan coming back for more.


Anonymous said...

Got to feel for Jimmy. I'm sure if it were not for Hendry's retirement this would be the story of the day with a load of montages thrown in, but I haven't heard it mentioned as yet. Overshadowed by his nemesis once again.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear,Jimmy has thrilled many a fan with his flamboyant,attacking snooker,and gave his army of fans a rollercoaster every match at his peak.We felt every shot with him.If only more players were cut from his cloth.How come so many of todays players never bother with the flair shots when the frame is won? Some players look like any flamboyancy would kill them! Happy birthday Jimmy,and thanks for the memories!

Dzierzgul said...

Should be "Crucible 147", although everyone reading this can surely fill the blank.

Also, Jimmy White deserves praise for being very open about his (thankfully gone) cancer problems. I remember reading his account once and it was really impressive: he used his public status to show how it should be dealt with and that potential shame about it (which he experienced in his case) cannot and must not be an issue. It was truly brave and classy.

Dave H said...

Thank you - edited in


Hi David.

Stat Of The Day - Jimmy White, was born on 2-5-1962. Today, is hios 50th birthday. Happy 50th birthday to him.

Another great day's play, in my view.

Stevens .V. Day - session 3- from 11-5 up, Stevens won 2 in a row, to win, 13-5. He had been 5-2 down, so he won, 11 in a row.

Carter .V. Jones - Session 2. From 5-3 down, Jones did great, to level at 6-all. Two Jones century breaks, include. Carter, did well, to lead, 9-7.

Session 3 - Carter increased his 9-7 lead, to 12-8. Jones fought back, 12-11. Carter won, 13-11.

A great thing, considering Stephen Hendry was not playing today, having lost, 13-2, to Stephen Maguire, yesterday, that he walked out, infront of a packed crowd,, and got a standing ovation, not just from them, but also, from me wacthing,and recording it, from home. I got emotional, aswell.

O'Sullivan .V. Robertson - Sesion 2- With sublime play, and Robertson errors, O'sullivan, turned his 5-3, over-night deficit, into a 9-5 lead. Robertson did well, to make it 9-7.

Session 3 - Robertson won the first frame, in the session. Three in a row, for Robertson. 9-8. O'Sullivan, more than impressive, playing-wise, to lead, 12-8. Robertson fought back. 12-10. O'Sullivan wins, 13-10.

I can not wait for tomorrow. The Semi's. The one table Crucible set-up. Fantastic.

O'Sullivan .V. Stevens , and, Maguire .V. Carter. I can not wait. Bring it on.

I am sure, Jimmy White, will be loving watching it, aswell. Six times, a Crucible finalists, U.K., and Masters champion. Great player. Great man. Happy 50th birthday, to Jimmy 'WHILWIND' White.

Role on, tomorrow.

Claus said...

Davis had his Crucible senior fairy tale two years ago. Perhaps White has one more WC qualification in him... Let's wait 11½ months and cross our fingers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Got to feel for Jimmy. I'm sure if it were not for Hendry's retirement this would be the story of the day with a load of montages thrown in, but I haven't heard it mentioned as yet. Overshadowed by his nemesis once again.

5:47 PM

overshadowed by a better player and by a guy who abides the law

Anonymous said...

id imagine players these days dont go for as many flair shots as jimmy as:

they want to keep hot and stay in stoke by clearing all the balls and stop their opponent coming to the table

dont want to risk damaging their tip by becoming peanut performing monkeys for a few seconds.

theyre just different. thats why snooker is fascinating. if everyone did flair shots every frame youd soon get bored of it, trust me. because theyre good to watch and in a minority theyre fun, but if it happened every frame for 8 shots or so, nobody would be smiling after watching them all for years.

Anonymous said...

We love you Jimmy!

Anonymous said...



i dont love him. i dont dislike him either.

to me hes just another very good snooker player, like parrott and doherty and m stevens....