John Virgo

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John Virgo
John Virgo crop.jpg
Virgo in 2003
Born (1946-03-03) 3 March 1946 (age 72)
Salford, Lancashire, England
Sport country  England
Nickname Mr Perfection, JV
Professional 1976–1995
Highest ranking 10 (1979/80)
Career winnings £293,472[1]
Highest break 139 (1987 English Professional Championship)
Century breaks 39
Best ranking finish Semi-final (4 times)
Tournament wins
Non-ranking 4

John Virgo (born 3 March 1946 in Salford, Lancashire) is an English former professional snooker player and more recently a snooker commentator and TV personality.

Career as snooker player[edit]

Early professional career (1973–1978)[edit]

Virgo’s first notable appearance in a major tournament was during the 1973 American Pool Tournament for The Indoor League where he lost in the semi final. Virgo turned professional in 1976, at a time when players such as Ray Reardon, John Spencer and Eddie Charlton were at the forefront of the sport. Although he had just turned 30 upon turning pro, he was still among the youngest players on the circuit at the time. In 1977 Virgo reached the semi finals of the UK Championship losing to eventual winner Patsy Fagan.

UK Champion and Top 10 player (1979–1990)[edit]

His snooker-playing fortunes peaked in 1979 when he reached the semi-final of the World Championship, and went on to win the 1979 UK Championship (though this was not a ranking event at the time). En route to the final Virgo beat Tony Meo, Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor. In the final he overcame the reigning world champion Terry Griffiths despite being controversially docked two frames because of a miscommunication regarding the start time of the next session of play.[2] He reached the Top 10 in the world rankings the following season. In 1986 Virgo reached the semi finals of the British Open losing 9-4 to Willie Thorne.[3] Virgo, ending the 1989–1990 season as world number 14, dropped out of the top 16 next season.

Later career and retirement (1991–1995)[edit]

In 1993 Virgo entered the qualifying stages of the Grand Prix and the UK Championship but failed to qualify for the main events, losing both times in round seven.[4] Virgo retired from professional play in 1995.

Career as exhibition player and TV commentator[edit]

Virgo, as part of his exhibition performances, had long performed trick shots and comedic impressions of other snooker players. During the 1981 World Championship, he performed some of his impressions, including Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins, Steve Davis and Ray Reardon. He repeated this act in further World Championships, usually after semi-finals ended earlier than expected.

He is now a TV snooker commentator who works primarily during the BBC's coverage of ranking events. From 1991 to 2002, Virgo was co-presenter of the snooker-based TV game show Big Break with Jim Davidson. During each show, Virgo participated in the "trick shots" segment, where a competitor who had been ousted from the main quiz would try to copy a complicated snooker shot performed by Virgo in order to win a prize.

Virgo is well known for shouting "where's the cueball going?" during his commentaries if a player plays a shot in such a way that the cueball gets in any sort of proximity to a pocket. Virgo would also similarly say another ball in place of the cueball, if another ball is fluked, or very close to the pocket.

Other activities[edit]

Virgo's tribute book to the late Alex Higgins, Let Me Tell You About Alex, was published in February 2011 and described as "explosive".[5] In April 2012, his book Amazing Snooker Trick Shots was published.

In 2012 Virgo featured in Nicholas Gleaves' debut radio play Sunk who guides a young man in his dream of becoming a snooker champion while battling to avoid a life of crime. This was broadcast on BBC Radio 4

Virgo has recently[when?] worked with a pool and snooker table company called Liberty Games to create a web-based series of trick shot videos known as the Trick Shot Academy.[6]

In 2014 Virgo released a trick shot app, John Virgo's Snooker Trick Shots, available on Apple and Android devices. It has Virgo performing 45 trick shots and contains diagrams and video clips for each. It also has Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins performing three trick shots including 'Higgins Goes Bananas'.

Virgo is currently embarking on a new venture, opening a new Vegan cafe in his home city of Salford. Virgo's Vegan Cafe, with help from fellow snooker player and friend Peter Ebdon.

Personal life[edit]

John Virgo lives in Cobham Surrey. He has two children, a son Gary from his first marriage and a daughter Brook Leah from his second marriage. He separated from his second wife, Avril, in 1991, after 18 years together.[7] In 2009, he married Rosie Ries, then deputy managing director at John Blake Publishing. Virgo was once gunged on Noel's House Party. Virgo is a fan of the football club Manchester United F.C.. In 1996 he appeared as a celebrity contestant on the short-lived Saturday night BBC light entertainment show Full Swing, alongside John Lodge from The Moody Blues and former Tottenham goalkeeper Pat Jennings; he did not make the final.

Performance and rankings timeline[edit]

Tournament 1974/
Ranking[8] [nb 1] [nb 2] 18 19 10 12 13 19 14 18 19 19 19 15 13 14 31 49 72
Ranking tournaments
Dubai Classic[nb 3] Tournament Not Held NR 3R 1R 1R LQ A
Grand Prix[nb 4] Tournament Not Held SF 2R 2R 1R 2R 2R 1R 2R 1R 1R LQ LQ
UK Championship Not Held Non-Ranking Event LQ 2R 2R 2R QF 1R 1R 1R LQ LQ
European Open Tournament Not Held 3R 2R 2R 2R LQ A
Welsh Open Tournament Not Held 2R LQ WD
International Open[nb 5] Tournament Not Held NR SF 1R 2R 2R 2R QF 2R 1R Not Held 1R WD
Thailand Open[nb 6] Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event Not Held 3R 2R 1R LQ A
British Open[nb 7] Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event 2R SF QF 2R 2R 1R 1R 1R LQ WD
World Championship A 1R LQ SF 2R 1R 2R 1R 1R 1R 1R 1R 1R 2R 2R 1R LQ LQ A
Non-ranking tournaments
The Masters A A A A 1R A A 1R 1R A A A A 1R 1R 1R A A A
Irish Masters[nb 8] A A A A A 1R A A A A A A A A A A A A A
European League[nb 9] Tournament Not Held W Not Held A A A A A A A A
Former ranking tournaments
Canadian Masters[nb 10] Non-Ranking Event Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking 2R Tournament Not Held
Hong Kong Open[nb 11] Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event NH 3R Tournament Not Held
Classic Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event 1R QF 2R 2R 3R 3R 3R 1R 3R Not Held
Strachan Open Tournament Not Held 1R MR NR
Former non-ranking tournaments
Canadian Masters[nb 10] QF SF A A A A Tournament Not Held A A A R Tournament Not Held
Champion of Champions Not Held A NH F Tournament Not Held
International Open[nb 5] Tournament Not Held QF Ranking Event Not Held Ranking
Classic Tournament Not Held SF A A 1R Ranking Event Not Held
UK Championship Not Held SF QF W 2R 1R QF 1R Ranking Event
British Open[nb 7] Tournament Not Held RR RR 2R LQ RR Ranking Event
Australian Masters[nb 12] Tournament Not Held A A A A A F QF A A NH R Tournament Not Held
English Professional Championship Tournament Not Held 2R Not Held QF QF 2R 2R 1R Tournament Not Held
World Seniors Championship Tournament Not Held 1R 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. ^ He was an amateur.
  2. ^ New players on the Main Tour do not have a ranking.
  3. ^ The event was also called the Dubai Masters (1988/1989)
  4. ^ The event was also called the Professional Players Tournament (1982/83–1983/84)
  5. ^ a b The event was also called the Goya Matchroom Trophy (1985/1986)
  6. ^ The event was also called the Asian Open (1989/1990–1992/1993)
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ The event was also called the Benson & Hedges Ireland Tournament (1974/1975–1976/1977)
  9. ^ The event was also called the Professional Snooker League (1983/1984) and the Matchroom League (1986/1987 to 1991/1992)
  10. ^ a b The event was also called the Canadian Open (1974/1975–1980/1981)
  11. ^ The event was also called the Australian Masters (1979/1980–1987/1988 & 1995/1996) and Australian Open (1994/1995)
  12. ^ The event was also called the Hong Kong Open (1989/1990) and Australian Open (1994/1995)

Career finals[edit]

Non-ranking finals: 6 (4 titles, 2 runner-ups)[edit]

UK Championship (1–0)
Other (3–2)
Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score
Winner 1. 1979 UK Championship Wales Terry Griffiths 14–13
Winner 2. 1980 Bombay International Canada Cliff Thorburn 13–7
Winner 3. 1980 Pontins Professional Wales Ray Reardon 9–6
Runner-up 1. 1980 Champion of Champions Wales Doug Mountjoy 8–10
Winner 4. 1984 Professional Snooker League Northern Ireland Dennis Taylor Round-Robin
Runner-up 2. 1984 Australian Masters England Tony Knowles 3–7

Pro-am finals: 1 (1 runner-up)[edit]

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score
Runner-up 1. 1975 Pontins Spring Open Wales Ray Reardon 1–7[9]


  1. ^ "CueTracker - Career Total Statistics For John Virgo - Professional Results - Snooker Results & Statistics". 
  2. ^ Wintle, Angela (11 January 2014). "Big Break star John Virgo on trick shots, snooker legends and his Cobham home". Surrey Life. Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  3. ^ "CueTracker - 1986 British Open - Snooker Results & Statistics". 
  4. ^ "CueTracker - John Virgo - Season 1993-1994 - Snooker Results & Statistics". 
  5. ^ "John Virgo: My life in the eye of Hurricane Higgins". Belfast Telegraph. 29 January 2011. Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  6. ^ "Trick Shot Academy". Liberty Games. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  7. ^ Cassidy, Denis (2 November 2003). "I'M BIG BROKE; Ex-wife's fury as snooker ace Virgo cuts payments". The People. Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  8. ^ "Ranking History". Retrieved 7 November 2017. 
  9. ^ "pontins". 28 February 2012. 

External links[edit]