Joe Johnson (snooker player)
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29 July 1952 |
Bradford (West Yorkshire)
|Highest ranking||5 (1987/88)|
|Highest break||141 (1992)|
Johnson reached the final of the World Amateur Snooker Championship in 1978, losing to Cliff Wilson, and turned professional the following year. He reached the final of the untelevised Professional Players Tournament in 1983, which he lost 9–8 to Tony Knowles. He first qualified for the World Championship in 1984, and lost 10–1 to Dennis Taylor in the first round. A year later, he was beaten 10–8 at the same stage by Bill Werbeniuk. Johnson entered the elite top 16 of the world rankings for the first time in the 1985/1986 season. He was nevertheless relatively unheralded when that year's World Championship came around.
Johnson arrived at the World Championship in 1986 having never previously won a match at the Crucible Theatre, and was rated a 150–1 outsider. He beat former champion Terry Griffiths 13–12 in the quarter-finals after trailing 12–9, and then defeated Knowles 16–8 in the semi-finals. In the final he met world number 1 Steve Davis – then at the peak of his ability. Johnson trailed 3–1 and 7–4 in the opening stages but surged ahead to lead 12–8 and ended the third session 13–11 ahead. In the evening session Johnson took five of the opening six frames to seal a shock 18–12 victory. A supporter of Bradford City football club, he wore a T-shirt with the slogan "Bradford's Bouncing Back" (a reference to the Bradford City stadium fire a year earlier) whenever he was not playing during the tournament.
Johnson had a poor season as world champion, reaching only one semi-final. By his own admission, he arrived at the Crucible for the 1987 World Championship hoping merely to progress past the first round. However, he defied expectations and reached the final again, en route edging out a young Stephen Hendry 13–12 in a close quarter-final. Once again his opponent in the final was Davis, but this time Johnson was beaten 18–14. He reached number 5 in the world rankings in the 1987–88 season, largely as a result of his performances at the Crucible.
Johnson won the Langs Scottish Masters in 1987, beating Terry Griffiths 9–7 in the final and taking his only other major snooker title. He reached the semi-finals of the 1987 UK Championship and came close to making a maximum break against Jimmy White, but missed the pink on 134 and went on to lose the match 4–9. He rarely came close to repeating these successes, and rapidly descended the rankings, dropping out of the top 16 by 1991 and the top 32 by the mid-1990s. His last appearance at the World Championship came in 1991. He suffered heart and eye problems during the 1990s, and retired from professional snooker at the end of the 2003/2004 season.
Johnson remains the player who came closest to beating the "Crucible Curse", in that no first-time world champion has ever successfully defended the title. Johnson's defence saw him both reach the final and come within four frames of victory. Ken Doherty also reached the final in 1998, a year after his first win at the Crucible, but lost by a greater margin to John Higgins. No other first-time champion has reached the final the following year.
Johnson also won the Seniors Pot Black Trophy in 1997, beating Terry Griffiths in the final. He was also an early influence on, and friend of, the late snooker player Paul Hunter. He is now a commentator for Eurosport while also running two coaching academies, one in Bradford and one at the Corner Pocket Snooker club Hoyle Mill in Barnsley. He is married with five sons and two daughters.
World Championship finals: 2 (1 title, 1 runner-up)
|Outcome||Year||Opponent in the final||Score in the final|
Ranking Wins: (1)
- World Championship – 1986
Non-Ranking Wins: (3)
- Joe Johnson at CueTracker.net: Snooker Results and Statistic Database