Pat Houlihan

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Pat Houlihan
Born (1929-11-07)7 November 1929
Deptford, England
Died 8 November 2006(2006-11-08) (aged 77)
Sport country  England
Professional 1971–1993
Highest ranking 18 (1978–1979)
Career winnings £21,509[1]
Highest break 108 (1980 World Championship qualifying)
Century breaks 2
Best ranking finish Last 16 (1978 World Championship)

Patrick "Pat" Houlihan (7 November 1929 – 8 November 2006) was an English snooker player. He was born in Deptford, London.

Pat Houlihan turned professional in 1971 at the age of 42 after many years as an amateur including beating future world champion John Spencer 11-3 at Blackpool Tower during the 1965 World Amateur Championship. Additionally, he lifted the BA&CC television tournament, one of snooker's first televised events.

During his professional career his highest position in the world rankings was 18th, which he reached in 1979. His highest break at the televised stages of the World Championship played at the Crucible was 83. He played in the main stages of the World Championship twice: in 1973 when he lost to then defending champion Alex Higgins, and at the Crucible in 1978 when he lost to Cliff Thorburn in the first round. He retired in 1993 and vanished from the game.

His early career had been stymied by world champion turned snooker star, Joe Davis, who was responsible for selecting new professionals and disapproved of amateurs such as Houlihan who had played matches at various snooker clubs for money.

Despite his cult status, there was no braggadocio about Patsy's manner, which was always modest and unassuming. He was also a mesmerising storyteller, possessing a vast store of snooker-related anecdotes, as well as a dazzling repertoire of coin tricks.

Patsy had a cameo role in Les Reid's 1984 film- Number One -playing the part of Pete Phelan. It starred Bob Geldof and Mel Smith.

He was married with three grown-up children.

His friend, Jimmy White now a snooker legend himself, once described him as "the greatest snooker player I've ever seen", and White's own brand of attacking snooker owed much to his fellow south Londoner. Jimmy White has rated Charlie Poole, Patsy Houlihan and Alex Higgins as the three greatest snooker players he has ever seen, reasoning that they were "Potters and entertainers. Safety shots were too boring for them."

Warren King: " I think Patsy was still playing in pro events when I first started playing on the tour in the early eighties. I did not really know him, but he was a great character and player in his time."

Frank Sandell: "I only met him a couple of times, though his reputation as both, a superb player and character, was without question." "He did an exhibition for a children's charity, in around 1981, and was brilliant with the kids.He played at Rommiley Forum- Stockport- in the World qualifiers, in the last time I saw him. I don't think he could afford a hotel, so he bunked down on a fellow player's bedroom floor." "He was full of amazing stories about the game and of East End life."

Houlihan beat Reardon 6-5 in the English amateur semi, after trailing 5-1. Reardon, whose full-time job was a policeman at the time, lamented 'I should be locked up... " - Paul Smith.

Mike Wilson: It's a shame there is no television footage of Patsy. My old man (Cliff Wilson) told me Patsy was a joy to watch.

Ann-Marie Farren, former ladies World Champion: I played Patsy in Leigh-on-Sea once and he was only allowed to pot the yellow as a colour. He was such a nice bloke. I will take a look at your page to the great man.

Later, Houlihan beat John Spencer 11-3 to win the 1965 English Amateur Championship but was blocked from turning professional for several more years. Spencer was invited instead to compete in the world championships in Karachi as Patsy had a previous engagement: four months in Wormwood Scrubs for breaking into a warehouse.


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