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Dennis Taylor in 2004
19 January 1949 |
Coalisland, County Tyrone
|Highest ranking||2 (1979/1980)|
|Highest break||141 (1987 Carling Championships)|
Dennis Taylor (born Denis Taylor, 19 January 1949 in Coalisland, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland) is a retired snooker player, and current BBC snooker commentator. Winner of two ranking events, he is best known for winning the 1985 World Championship, beating World number one Steve Davis on the final black in one of the sport's most memorable finals. He also won the Grand Prix in 1984 and the Masters in 1987. Taylor is also well known for his sense of humour and his trademark oversized spectacles. He regularly made appearances on the snooker-based gameshow Big Break.
Taylor turned professional in 1972 and made his world championship debut in 1973, narrowly losing to Cliff Thorburn in the first round. After world semi-final losses in 1975 and 1977, Taylor reached his first major final – the World Championship – in 1979, but lost 24–16 to debutant Terry Griffiths.
Having reached the semi final of the World Championships in 1984, losing to Steve Davis, Taylor was playing very well as he began the 1984–85 season. In September, however, he was devastated by the sudden death of his mother, which caused him to withdraw from the Jameson International. His first ranking event win came later in 1984, when he won the Rothmans Grand Prix by beating Cliff Thorburn 10–2 in the final.
The 1985 final
Later that season he reached his second world final in 1985, where he faced Steve Davis, world number one, reigning world champion and the dominant player of the 1980s. Taylor trailed 0–8 after the first session, but bounced back to trail 7–9 and 15–17 and then level at 17–17. In an incredibly tense final frame, the score was 62–44 to Davis with only the brown, blue, pink and black still on the table. While Davis needed only the brown, Taylor needed all the colours. He potted a long brown, which he says was one of his best ever shots under pressure. A tricky blue and a difficult pink also went in, bringing the score to 62–59 to ensure that, for the first time ever, the title would be decided on the black ball. Taylor eventually potted the black after Davis had missed a tricky cut into the top pocket and, amid euphoric scenes watched by over 18 million viewers well after midnight on live BBC television, took the title at the relatively advanced age of 36. Davis later drily commented that the match had all been there "in black and white".
The World Championship win added to Taylor's popularity. On his return to Coalisland with the world trophy he was mobbed by the town's inhabitants, and he appeared widely on television thereafter.
Taylor reached the Rothmans Grand Prix final again in autumn 1985, and again faced Davis in a match that went to a deciding frame, but this time was beaten 10–9. As with all other first-time world champions so far, Taylor succumbed to the "Crucible Curse" on his return to the Crucible Theatre the following year and lost 10–6 to Mike Hallett in the opening match, humorously acknowledging defeat by putting his handkerchief on the end of his cue to resemble a white flag. He won the Benson & Hedges Masters in 1987, beating Alex Higgins 9–8 in the final, having trailed 8-5. Taylor often credits his comeback win to having heard that Higgins's manager had ordered champagne to celebrate their impending victory.
Taylor had a well-publicized row with Higgins at the 1990 snooker World Cup in which the Northern Ireland team were beaten by Canada in the final, which ended with Higgins threatening to have Taylor shot, a threat Taylor understandably took seriously since he and Higgins belonged to opposite sides of Northern Ireland's sectarian divide. Shortly afterwards they met in the quarter-finals of the Irish Masters, and a determined Taylor won 5–2. The match was attended by a young Ken Doherty. Taylor also beat Jimmy White 6–5 in the semi-finals but, emotionally drained by the Higgins match, lost 9–4 to Davis in the final. Taylor and Higgins were later reconciled.
Taylor and Davis met in the World Championship for a second time in 1991, this time in the quarter-finals. Davis won this match 13-7 to advance to the semi-final.
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. As a member of the Matchroom group of players (managed by promoter Barry Hearn), Taylor performed on the hit single with Chas & Dave, "Snooker Loopy", which peaked at #5 in the UK singles chart. His perceived bad eyesight was parodied in the song with the lines "them long shots, he never ever got. Why the old mind boggles. But nowadays he pots the lot" with Taylor himself singing "'cos I wear these goggles". He was also one of the first players to develop a relative competence in using his left hand to play the game, though he himself said this was partly because he hated to play shots with the rest.
Taylor's form deteriorated gradually in the 1990s and he dropped out of the top 16 after the 1994 World Championship, the last remaining player who had been in the original world rankings in 1976. He retired from playing in 2000.
Taylor now commentates on the three televised snooker tournaments each year for the BBC and is known for his bona fide and light-hearted commentary. His most famous commentary incident occurred in 1998 when co-commentator Clive Everton nearly strangled Taylor after instinctively grabbing his tie as he fell off his chair. Everton wrongly believed one snooker was required by a player before Taylor stated correctly that he actually needed three snookers to get back into the frame. Everton subsequently proclaimed that his "brains have gone completely" before leaning back in his chair which then gave way. He reached out as he fell, grabbing Taylor's tie and pulling him down with him. An audible bang rang around the auditorium as Everton fell off his chair and out the commentary box with Taylor chuckling uncontrollably.
Taylor has also made guest appearances on Big Break, They Think It's All Over, Russian Roulette, A Question of Sport, The Weakest Link and The Sooty Show. In 2005 he was one of the celebrities taking part in the third series of the successful BBC show Strictly Come Dancing, reaching eighth place with his partner Izabela Hannah.
World Championship finals: 2 (1 title, 1 runner-up)
|Outcome||Year||Opponent in the final||Score in the final|
|Performance Table Legend|
|LQ||Failed to qualify||#R||Lost in the early rounds|
|QF||Lost in the quarter-finals||SF||Lost in the semi-finals|
|F||Lost in the final||W||Tournament winner|
|A||Did not participate in the tournament||NH||Tournament was not held|
Ranking wins: (2)
Non-ranking wins: (17)
- Irish Professional Championships – 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987
- Canadian Masters – 1985, 1987
- Thailand Masters – 1985
- Carslberg Challenge – 1986
- Carling Challenge – 1986
- The Masters – 1987
- Tokyo Masters – 1987
- Kit-Kat Break for World Champions - 1985
- Australian Masters - 1986
- Costa Del Sol Classic -1984
- Matchroom Professional Championship - 1987
- World Trickshot Championship – 1997, 1998
- World Cup – 1985, 1986, 1987 (with All-Ireland team)
- "Past Masters: Dennis Taylor". Global Snooker Centre. Archived from the original on 22 February 2008.
- "Official player profile of Dennis Taylor". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. "Senior Players" section. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
- YouTube video of the Everton necktie incident with interview
- "Clive Everton". prosnookerblog.com. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
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