Dennis Taylor, Snooker Loopy
Coalisland-born snooker player who famously won the World Snooker Championship in 1985
In the ‘Can you remember where you were when...?’ category of questions, there must be a place in the sporting section relating to Dennis Taylor’s clinching of the world professional snooker title at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, 1985.
Some 18.5m people—one of the highest ever television audiences for a live sports event—tuned into BBC2 for the thrilling climax. Trailing 8-0 against defending champion Steve Davis, Taylor fought back to 9-7, and then took the final frame on the black to win 18-17.
Dennis Taylor was born in Coalisland, Co Tyrone, in 1949. He began playing snooker at the age of nine, and was the local champion in his early teens. At 17 he moved to Lancashire, turning professional in 1972. Taylor’s first major title came in 1984, when he claimed the £45,000 Grand Prix in a decider against Canada's Cliff Thorburn, at the Hexagon Theatre, Reading.
1984 was also the season Taylor switched from wearing contact lenses to the large spectacles that became his trademark. Taylor’s public profile was helped in no small measure by the mimicking of his extra-large frames by countless comic impersonators.
Having lost to Terry Griffiths in his first appearance in a Crucible final in 1979, Taylor had to wait another six years before claiming his place as a sporting legend in that famous final against Davis. He was only the second Irish man to claim world snooker's most cherished title, following in the illustrious footsteps of Belfast’s Alex Higgins.
Following Crucible success, Taylor was knocked out in the opening round of the championship in 1986 and did not win another ranking event in his career. Nevertheless, he managed to stay in the world top 16 until 1994.
His career achievements include the Irish Professional Championship (1980, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986 and 1987), the Embassy World Championship (1985), the Canadian Masters (1985 and 1987), the Australian Masters (1986), the Benson and Hedges Masters (1987), the Tokyo Masters (1987), the Carling Championship (1987) and the World Trick Shot Championship (1997 and 1998). He also captained Ireland in the World Cup between 1985 and 1987.
Dennis Taylor left competitive snooker in 2000 to concentrate on developing a commentating career with the BBC. He has also found success on the entertainment circuit, where he is in constant demand for his humorous after-dinner speeches. His exhibition matches, famous for the range of trick shots he employs, also have audiences rolling in the aisles.