Dennis Taylor

Dennis Taylor (born 19 January 1949) is a retired professional Northern Irish snooker player and commentator. Taylor won the 1985 World Snooker Championship, defeating Steve Davis in the final 18–17. The final holds the record for the highest viewership for a broadcast both in the United Kingdom after midnight, and on BBC2. Taylor had reached the final once previously, at the 1979 World Snooker Championship where he lost 24–16 to Terry Griffiths. Taylor reached the highest ranking of his career in 1979–1980, where he was second in the world.

Dennis Taylor
Dennis Taylor, 2004.jpg
Taylor in 2004
Born (1949-01-19) 19 January 1949 (age 71)
Coalisland, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Sport countryNorthern Ireland
Professional1972–2000
Highest ranking2 (1979/1980)
Highest break141: 1987 Carling Challenge
Tournament wins
Ranking2
Non-ranking17
World Champion1985

Taylor won the 1984 Grand Prix the previous year, where he defeated Cliff Thorburn 10–2 in the final. After the World Championship success, he won the invitational 1987 Masters defeating Alex Higgins 9–8 in the final. Taylor is known for wearing specially designed glasses manufactured for snooker, often described as looking upside-down. He made the highest break of his career at the 1987 Carling Challenge, a 141. Since his professional career finished, Taylor has played on the World Seniors Tour and has featured as a commentator on BBC snooker broadcasts. Alongside Izabela Hannah, he appeared on the third series of Strictly Come Dancing, finishing eighth.

CareerEdit

Early careerEdit

Born on 19 January 1949 in Coalisland, Northern Ireland, he was the son of a lorry driver, and had six siblings.[1][2] As an amateur, he won the 1968 British Junior Billiards Championship.[3] Taylor turned professional in 1972.[4] That season he made his debut in the World Snooker Championship debut in the 1973 event, losing 8–9 to Cliff Thorburn in the first round.[5] Over the next few years, Taylor reached the semi-finals at the event in 1975 where he lost 12–19 to Eddie Charlton,[6] and 1977, losing to Thorburn 18–16.[7] Two years later he reached the 1979 final, but lost 16–24 to qualifier Terry Griffiths.[5][8] He reached his highest world ranking for the following season, second behind Steve Davis.[9][10]

He reached the semi-final for a third time in 1984, losing to Davis.[11] His mother died as he was beginning the new season at the 1984 Jameson International. He retired from the event before his quarter-final match against Silvino Francisco.[12][13] However, he won the first ranking event of his career at the 1984 Grand Prix later that year defeating Thorburn 10–2 in the final.[14]

World Snooker ChampionEdit

Following his first ranking tournament victory, Taylor played in the 1985 World Championship. Seeded 11th for the tournament, he defeated Francisco in the opening round 10–2,[15] Eddie Charlton 13–6 in the second round,[16] Cliff Thorburn 13–5,[17] and Tony Knowles 16–5 to reach the final.[18] In the final, he played three-time winner and world number one Steve Davis. In the four session match, he trailed 0–7 after the first,[19] but bounced back to trail 7–9 overnight after the second.[20] Never being ahead, he took the match to a deciding frame with the scores tied at 17–17.[21] Trailing at 62–44 to Davis in the deciding frame with five coloured balls remaining. He potted a long brown ball, which he says was one of his best ever shots under pressure.[22] He also potted the blue and pink to bring the score to 62–59 with one ball, worth seven points, remaining.[23] Both players missed a shot on the black, but it was finally potted by Taylor to win the championship.[24][25]

The final is considered by many to be the greatest snooker match in history[26] and was broadcast to a peak audience of 18 million viewers in the United Kingdom. As of 2020 this is the highest viewership of any broadcast after midnight in the country, and a record for any programme shown on BBC2.[27][28][29] On his return to Northern Ireland, Taylor was awarded the key to the city of Coalisland.[30] Taylor also received a victory parade that 10,000 attended.[31]

Later careerEdit

 
Taylor's oversized glasses were designed to be used whilst playing snooker

Taylor reached his fourth ranking event final at the 1985 Grand Prix, later that year. He faced Davis again and went to a deciding frame, but this time was beaten 9–10. As of 2020 this was the longest one-day final in history with a playing time of over 10 hours.[32] In defence of his world championship, at the 1986 World Snooker Championship, Taylor lost in the opening round 6–10 to Mike Hallett.[33] In 1987 Taylor reached the final of the Masters for the only time in his career There he played countryman Alex Higgins, and trailed 5–8, but won the match 9–8.[34] The win was the last time a player from Northern Ireland won a Triple Crown event until Mark Allen won the 2018 Masters.[35] Taylor made the highest break of his career, a 141,[36][37] at the 1987 Carling Challenge, which he won defeating Joe Johnson in the final.[38]

At the 1990 World Cup, Taylor teamed with Higgins and Tommy Murphy to form a Northern Irish team.[39] After failing to win the tournament, Higgins threatened Taylor saying "if you ever come back to Northern Ireland I’ll have you shot".[40][41][42] Shortly afterwards they met in the quarter-finals of the Irish Masters, and a determined Taylor won 5–2.[39][40] In the next decade, his form dropped, and he fell out of the top 16 in the world rankings in 1995. Taylor retired as a professional in 2000.[8]

Alongside other players managed by Barry Hearn (known as the Matchroom mob) and Chas & Dave, Taylor featured on a music single called Snooker Loopy.[43] The song spent 11 weeks in the UK Singles Chart in 1996, reaching a peak of sixth.[44] Taylor was renowned for the glasses he wore during matches, with their large frame and unusual 'upside-down' structure that is required to avoid a player looking over the top of the lenses when down on a shot.[45] The spectacles were a joking point on the song,[46] and also commented on specifically by John Virgo in other media.[47][48] During his career, Taylor won the Irish Professional Championship on six occasions.[49]

After retiring from the Tour, Taylor plays matches on the World Seniors Tour and been a commentator and analyst for snooker events for the BBC.[50] In commentary alongside Clive Everton in 1998, a disagreement around the amount of snookers required for a player to win was had. Everton, who had incorrectly said one, fell from his chair, and reached out and grabbed Taylor by the necktie.[51] The tie was pulled so hard, that it was later cutoff to allow Taylor to continue commentary.[52]

Personal lifeEdit

Taylor made regular guest appearances on snooker television show game show Big Break.[53] In 2005 Taylor took part in the third series of Strictly Come Dancing, reaching eighth place with his partner Izabela Hannah.[54][55] In February 1990, Taylor opened the Royal Mail sorting office in Blackburn, Lancashire before playing a single-frame challenge match.[56] Taylor currently lives in Llay near Wrexham.[57] His son Damien is a professional golf coach.[58] Taylor supports Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United. [59]

Performance and rankings timelineEdit

Tournament 1972/
73
1973/
74
1974/
75
1975/
76
1976/
77
1977/
78
1978/
79
1979/
80
1980/
81
1981/
82
1982/
83
1983/
84
1984/
85
1985/
86
1986/
87
1987/
88
1988/
89
1989/
90
1990/
91
1991/
92
1992/
93
1993/
94
1994/
95
1995/
96
1996/
97
1997/
98
1998/
99
1999/
00
Ranking[60] No ranking system 9 4 8 2 6 5 13 13 11 4 3 8 10 8 10 9 11 15 24 32 26 34 52 88
Ranking tournaments
British Open[nb 1] Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event QF 1R QF 2R 1R 3R QF 2R 1R 2R 2R 2R 2R LQ LQ LQ
Grand Prix Tournament Not Held 3R 1R W F 3R F SF QF 2R 1R 3R 1R 1R 1R 1R 1R LQ LQ
UK Championship Non-Ranking Event 2R SF 2R 2R 3R 3R 1R 2R 2R 2R 2R 3R 2R 2R LQ LQ
China Open[nb 2] Tournament Not Held NR LQ LQ
Welsh Open Tournament Not Held 2R 1R 1R 2R 3R 2R LQ LQ LQ
Malta Grand Prix Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event LQ
Thailand Masters[nb 3] Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event Not Held 1R F 3R 2R 1R 1R LQ LQ LQ LQ LQ
Scottish Open[nb 4] Tournament Not Held NR QF 2R WD SF 3R 2R QF 3R Not Held 1R 2R 2R 2R 2R LQ LQ LQ
World Championship 1R LQ SF QF SF 1R F 2R QF 1R 2R SF W 1R 2R 2R 2R 1R QF 1R QF 1R LQ LQ LQ LQ LQ LQ
Non-ranking tournaments
Champions Cup[nb 5] Tournament Not Held F 1R A A 1R A A
Scottish Masters Tournament Not Held A SF A A QF A QF NH 1R A 1R A 1R A LQ A LQ A A
The Masters Not Held A 1R 1R QF A QF 1R 1R A 1R 1R QF W 1R 1R 1R 1R 1R 1R QF A A A A A A
Irish Masters[nb 6] Not Held A A A 1R A RR QF QF 1R SF 1R QF SF 1R 1R F SF QF 1R A A A A A A A
Premier League[nb 7] Tournament Not Held F Not Held RR RR A RR RR A A A A A A A A A
Pontins Professional NH A QF QF RR RR A A QF QF SF A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A
Former ranking tournaments
Canadian Masters[nb 8] Not Held Non-Ranking Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking QF Tournament Not Held
Hong Kong Open[nb 9] Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event NH QF Tournament Not Held NR NR Tournament Not Held
Classic Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event 1R 1R 3R 1R QF 2R 2R 2R 2R Tournament Not Held
Strachan Open Tournament Not Held 2R MR NR Tournament Not Held
Asian Classic[nb 10] Tournament Not Held NR A 1R QF 3R 1R 1R 1R LQ Not Held
European Open[nb 11] Tournament Not Held 2R 1R QF 3R 3R 2R LQ 1R LQ NH LQ NH
German Open Tournament Not Held LQ LQ LQ NR NH
Former non-ranking tournaments
Norwich Union Open NH 2R 1R Tournament Not Held
Watney Open Not Held QF Tournament Not Held
World Matchplay Championship Tournament Not Held 1R Tournament Not Held
Holsten Lager International Tournament Not Held QF Tournament Not Held
Golden Masters Tournament Not Held SF SF Tournament Not Held
Bombay International Tournament Not Held RR RR Tournament Not Held
Pontins Camber Sands Tournament Not Held F Tournament Not Held
Champion of Champions Tournament Not Held A NH RR Tournament Not Held
Scottish Open[nb 4] Tournament Not Held F Ranking Event Not Held Ranking Event
Northern Ireland Classic Tournament Not Held QF Tournament Not Held
Classic Tournament Not Held QF F QF 1R Ranking Event Tournament Not Held
Tolly Cobbold Classic Tournament Not Held A F A F SF A Tournament Not Held
UK Championship Tournament Not Held 2R 2R SF QF 2R 2R 2R Ranking Event
British Open[nb 1] Tournament Not Held SF SF 2R LQ LQ Ranking Event
Costa Del Sol Classic Tournament Not Held W Tournament Not Held
Singapore Masters Tournament Not Held A RR Tournament Not Held
Kit Kat Break for World Champions Tournament Not Held W Tournament Not Held
Thailand Masters[nb 3] Tournament Not Held A A A QF Not Held Ranking Tournament
China Masters Tournament Not Held SF Tournament Not Held
Hong Kong Open[nb 9] Tournament Not Held A A A A 1R 1R A W A NH R Tournament Not Held A A Tournament Not Held
Carling Challenge[nb 12] Tournament Not Held A A W W A Tournament Not Held
Tokyo Masters Tournament Not Held W Tournament Not Held
Canadian Masters[nb 8] Not Held F QF A SF A QF A Tournament Not Held W QF W R Tournament Not Held
Asian Classic[nb 13] Tournament Not Held QF Ranking Event Not Held
Matchroom Professional Championship Tournament Not Held SF W F Tournament Not Held
New Zealand Masters Tournament Not Held Not Held 1R A QF Tournament Not Held
London Masters Tournament Not Held QF QF A Tournament Not Held
Shoot-Out Tournament Not Held 1R Tournament Not Held
Norwich Union Grand Prix Tournament Not Held SF A QF Tournament Not Held
World Masters Tournament Not Held 2R Tournament Not Held
Hong Kong Challenge[nb 14] Tournament Not Held A A QF F SF SF NH A QF Tournament Not Held
World Seniors Championship Tournament Not Held SF Tournament Not Held
World Matchplay Tournament Not Held QF QF A QF A Tournament Not Held
Irish Professional Championship Not Held SF SF F A A W W W F NH W W W F A Not Held SF A Tournament Not Held
European Challenge Tournament Not Held QF QF SF Tournament Not Held
Pot Black A A F F RR RR A SF A RR A QF SF SF Tournament Not Held QF RR QF Tournament Not Held
Seniors Pot Black Tournament Not Held SF Not Held
Performance Table Legend
LQ lost in the qualifying draw #R lost in the early rounds of the tournament
(WR = Wildcard round, RR = Round robin)
QF lost in the quarter-finals
SF lost in the semi-finals F lost in the final W won the tournament
DNQ did not qualify for the tournament A did not participate in the tournament WD withdrew from the tournament
NH / Not Held means an event was not held.
NR / Non-Ranking Event means an event is/was no longer a ranking event.
R / Ranking Event means an event is/was a ranking event.
  1. ^ a b The event was also called the British Gold Cup (1979/1980), Yamaha Organs Trophy (1980/1981) and International Masters (1981/1982–1983/1984)
  2. ^ The event was also called the China International(1998/1999)
  3. ^ a b The event was also called the Asian Open (1989/1990–1992/1993) and the Thailand Open (1993/1994–1996/1997)
  4. ^ a b The event was also called the International Open (1982/1983–1984/1985 & 1986/1987–1996/1997) and the Matchroom Trophy (1985/1986)
  5. ^ The event ran under a different name as the Charity Challenge (1994/1995–1998/1999)
  6. ^ The event was also called the Benson & Hedges Ireland Tournament (1974/1975–1976/1977)
  7. ^ The event was also called the Professional Snooker League (1983/1984), Matchroom League (1986/1987 to 1991/1992) and the European League (1992/1993 to 1996/1997)
  8. ^ a b The event was also called the Canadian Open (1978/1979–1980/1981)
  9. ^ a b The event ran under different names such as the Australian Masters (1983/1984 to 1987/1988 and 1995/1996) and Australian Open (1994/1995).
  10. ^ The event was also called the Dubai Masters (1988/1989), Dubai Classic (1989/90–1994/1995) and Thailand Classic (1995/1996)
  11. ^ The event was also called the Irish Open (1998/1999)
  12. ^ The event was also called the Carlsberg Challenge (1984/1985–1986/1987)
  13. ^ The event was also called the Dubai Masters (1988/1989)
  14. ^ The event was also called the Hong Kong Masters (1983/1984–1988/1989)

Career finalsEdit

Ranking finals: 6 (2 titles, 4 runner-ups)Edit

Legend
World Championship (1–1)
Other (1–3)
Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score Ref
Runner-up 1. 1979 World Championship   Terry Griffiths 16–24 [61]
Winner 1. 1984 Grand Prix   Cliff Thorburn 10–2 [61]
Winner 2. 1985 World Championship   Steve Davis 18–17 [61]
Runner-up 2. 1985 Grand Prix   Steve Davis 9–10 [61]
Runner-up 3. 1987 Grand Prix (2)   Stephen Hendry 7–10 [61]
Runner-up 4. 1990 Asian Open   Stephen Hendry 3–9 [61]

Non-ranking finals: 36 (17 titles, 19 runner-ups)Edit

Legend
The Masters (1–0)
Other (16–19)
Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score Ref
Runner-up 1. 1974 Canadian Open   Cliff Thorburn 6–8 [61]
Runner-up 2. 1975 Pot Black   Graham Miles 0–1 [62]
Runner-up 3. 1976 Pot Black (2)   John Spencer 0–1 [62]
Runner-up 4. 1978 Irish Professional Championship   Alex Higgins 7–21 [61]
Runner-up 5. 1979 Bombay International   John Spencer Round-Robin [63]
Runner-up 6. 1980 Tolly Cobbold Classic   Alex Higgins 4–5 [61]
Winner 1. 1980 Irish Professional Championship   Alex Higgins 21–15 [61]
Runner-up 7. 1980 Pontins Camber Sands   Alex Higgins 7–9 [61]
Runner-up 8. 1980 The Classic   Steve Davis 1–4 [61]
Runner-up 9. 1980 Australian Masters   John Spencer Aggregate Score [64]
Winner 2. 1981 Irish Professional Championship (2)   Patsy Fagan 22–21 [61]
Runner-up 10. 1981 International Open   Steve Davis 0–9 [61]
Runner-up 11. 1982 Tolly Cobbold Classic (2)   Steve Davis 3–8 [61]
Winner 3. 1982 Irish Professional Championship (3)   Alex Higgins 16–13 [61]
Runner-up 12. 1983 Irish Professional Championship (2)   Alex Higgins 11–16 [61]
Winner 4. 1984 Costa Del Sol Classic   Mike Hallett 5–2 [61]
Runner-up 13. 1984 Professional Snooker League   John Virgo Round-Robin [65]
Winner 5. 1985 Irish Professional Championship (4)   Alex Higgins 10–5 [61]
Winner 6. 1985 Thailand Masters   Terry Griffiths 4–0 [66]
Winner 7. 1985 Canadian Masters   Steve Davis 9–5 [61]
Winner 8. 1985 Kit Kat Break for World Champions   Steve Davis 9–5 [61]
Winner 9. 1986 Irish Professional Championship (5)   Alex Higgins 10–7 [61]
Winner 10. 1986 Australian Masters   Steve Davis 3–2 [67]
Runner-up 14. 1986 Malaysian Masters   Jimmy White 1–2 [61]
Runner-up 15. 1986 Hong Kong Masters   Willie Thorne 3–8 [61]
Winner 11. 1986 Carlsberg Challenge   Jimmy White 8–3 [61]
Winner 12. 1987 The Masters   Alex Higgins 9–8 [61]
Winner 13. 1987 Irish Professional Championship (6)   Joe O'Boye 9–2 [61]
Winner 14. 1987 Tokyo Masters   Terry Griffiths 6–3 [61]
Winner 15. 1987 Carling Challenge   Joe Johnson 8–5 [61]
Winner 16. 1987 Matchroom Professional Championship   Willie Thorne 10–3 [68]
Winner 17. 1987 Canadian Masters (2)   Jimmy White 9–7 [61]
Runner-up 16. 1988 Irish Professional Championship (3)   Jack McLaughlin 4–9 [61]
Runner-up 17. 1988 Matchroom Professional Championship   Steve Davis 7–10 [61]
Runner-up 18. 1990 Irish Masters   Steve Davis 4–9 [61]
Runner-up 19. 1995 Charity Challenge   Stephen Hendry 1–9 [69]

Pro-am finals: 1 (1 title)Edit

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score Ref
Winner 1. 1980 Pontins Camber Sands Open   Geoff Foulds 7–5 [70]

Team finals: 5 (3 titles, 2 runner-ups)Edit

Outcome No. Year Championship Team/partner Opponent(s) in the final Score Ref
Winner 1. 1985 World Cup Ireland   England 9–7 [71]
Winner 2. 1986 World Cup (2) Ireland   Canada 9–7 [71]
Winner 3. 1987 World Cup (3) Ireland   Canada 9–2 [71]
Runner-up 1. 1987 World Doubles Championship   Cliff Thorburn   Mike Hallett
  Stephen Hendry
8–12 [72]
Runner-up 2. 1990 World Cup   Northern Ireland   Canada 5–9 [73]

Other winsEdit

BibliographyEdit

  • Taylor, Dennis (24 October 1985). Frame by Frame: My Own Story. Queen Anne Press. ISBN 0356121798.
  • Taylor, Dennis (25 September 1986). Natural Break. ISBN 978-0356125664.
  • Taylor, Dennis (11 October 1990). Play snooker with Dennis Taylor. BBC Books. ISBN 0563360372.

ReferencesEdit

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