Our series on former professionals continues with a man who played a part - albeit briefly - in a piece of snooker history...

Mick Price is perhaps destined to live on for all eternity as the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question: who was Ronnie O’Sullivan’s opponent when he made his record five minute, 20 second maximum break at the Crucible in 1997?

The man was indeed Price, a very good player in his own right who reached 21st in the world rankings.

He turned professional in 1988 but his first major breakthrough came in 1992 when he reached his first ranking tournament quarter-final at the Strachan Open.

Price then reached the quarter-finals of two of the next three ranking events at the European Open and Dubai Classic.

In between, he appeared at the Crucible for the first time where he sprung a surprise by beating Dennis Taylor 10-6 in the opening round.

Price held Alan McManus to 10-10 in the second round before going down to a 13-10 defeat but the ranking points he accrued got him into the top 32, where he remained for five seasons.

His best performance came at the 1993 European Open in Antwerp, Belgium where he beat Dave Harold, Willie Thorne, Joe Johnson and Mark Johnston-Allen to reach the semi-finals.

Price gave Stephen Hendry a decent game before the then world champion beat him 6-3.

In 1995, Price appeared in his last two ranking tournament quarter-finals, losing to Steve Davis in the International Open and to James Wattana in the British Open.

He reached the Crucible on two further occasions, losing to McManus in 1996 and, of course, to O’Sullivan the following year.

That match was closer than many remember. Price led 4-3 and entered the final session only a frame behind before O’Sullivan stepped it up, the 147 the crowning glory of an excellent last afternoon.

It has seen Price’s name crop up on quiz shows, in pub conversations and between snooker anoraks.

A few years afterwards, he recalled: “I realised from very early on that he could get a maximum and the way he did it was amazing - he was just getting quicker and quicker and at one point I thought he was going to explode.

“I’ve been on the snooker circuit for a while now and the sheer speed at which he moved around the table was hard to take in.

“I only realised the guy was human when he took a breath before the green.

“The crazy thing was that before the frame he had whispered to me that he was tired – well, if that was him when he was tired I wouldn't like to play him on top of his game.”

Price was a solid, salt of the earth type of professional who loved snooker and he had an easy, self-deprecating sense of humour.

I recall him working in the press room at the Crucible one year for his manager’s website and telling the story of how he’d been approached by a fan at stage door who asked him, ‘didn’t you used to be Mick Price?’

After a moment’s thought he replied, ‘yes.’

He was affectionately given the nickname ‘The Postman’ because of his likeness to the children’s TV character Postman Pat.

Price retired from the circuit in 2004. He still plays in his local area and last month retained the Nuneaton Winter League individual title.

He turns 43 today.


RichP said...

What does Mick Price do now? always interesting to know what ex-sportsman do once their career finishes. He's not a postman is he?

Anonymous said...

Mick was a tough player to beat.

and for some reason i always gave him half a chance of beating top players even though he hardly did.

Happy 43rd Birthday Mick

Anonymous said...

Lovely stuff.

chris w said...

I played against mick in the final of our local memorial tournament last season and he still shows the same professionalism and skill as he did over a decade ago. Top bloke and a a hard working dedicated snooker player