Top Five Welsh Snooker Players
With the Welsh Open in full swing in Newport this week we here at FREEbets.org.uk think it is the right time to recognise the greatest names the country has brought to the sport over the years. As with all the countries in the British Isles, Wales has produced a huge amount of quality players in the last few decades and here are who we think the top five are.
5. Doug Mountjoy
A professional for over two decades, Mountjoy was a stalwart of the snooker scene from the mid-70s throughout the 1980s and into the 90s and whilst he never dominated the competition during that time he certainly left his mark on the game.
Winning the Masters in 1977 was Doug’s major breakthrough and he followed it up by winning, what then was the non-ranking, UK Championship a year later. He was certainly up there with the best in the game at that stage as he won the Irish Masters in ’79 and then managed his best World Championship performance in 1981 when he lost in the final to a young Steve Davis who was lifting his first world crown.
There was a lean period but things came together again in ’88 when he again lifted the UK Championship but this time as a major ranking event as he defeated a youthful Stephen Hendry in the final. He went on to achieve his highest world ranking of five a couple of years later and although he never won the biggest one of all he had a hugely successful and long career.
Similarly to his compatriot Mountjoy, Matthew Stevens (to date) will go down as one of the better players in the history of the game never to lift the world title, but has nonetheless achieved plenty at the table.
Much like Doug, Matthew has a UK Championship (2004) and a Masters (2000) title to his name and having reached two World Championship finals he may still be wondering how he hasn’t completed the fabled Triple Crown.
Stevens first reached the final in 2000 and narrowly lost to Mark Williams 18-16 and was defeated by the same margin when he returned to the showpiece event for a match he was strong favourite for against Shaun Murphy in 2005.
Never really been one to hit the practice table too hard Stevens has always been a fantastic natural talent and showed what the added match time in the snooker calendar has done for his game by returning to the World Championship semi-finals in 2012. It seems unlikely but he won’t have given up on that elusive world title just yet.
The first world champion on the list won the title the last time you needed more than 20 frames to win the final back in 1979 when Terry beat Dennis Taylor 24-16. This was his first real breakthrough but there was plenty more success to come as he went on to win the Masters just a year later.
In 1982 Griffiths became the first Welshman and only second man, after Steve Davis, to complete the Triple Crown when he won the UK Championship, defeating the legendary Alex Higgins in the final.
Terry never reached the number one spot in the world which his achievements arguably deserved, but a pinnacle of number three is still something special and despite his fairly ponderous style of play is fondly thought of by fans.
He has remained in the game and become one of if not the most highly respected coaches in the sport today which just adds to his status in the game and will make him very difficult to overcome in this list by any young pretenders.
Nicknamed the Welsh Potting Machine and although not the catchiest moniker in professional sport it is certainly one of the most accurate given the vast number of centuries Williams has compiled over his career.
Not only has Mark won the Triple Crown but he has effectively managed the achievement twice by winning each of the three biggest tournaments on two separate occasions.
He first claimed a major title in 1998 when he edged out Stephen Hendry in a classic Masters final and he didn’t take too long to back it up winning his first UK Championship the following year and his first world title in 2000 beating the aforementioned Stevens.
Although a couple of bad years at the Crucible followed his best season was yet to come when in 2002/03 he became only the third man in history (after Davis and Hendry) to complete the Triple Crown in the same season. He saw-off Ken Doherty in both the finals of the UK and Masters whilst another Masters win over Hendry proved another highlight of his career.
Although he has murmured about retirement he is still in the world’s top 10 and has won a ranking event as recently as 2011 and with his talent he could well still win more.
1. Ray Reardon
It takes something special to beat Mark Williams out of the number one spot on this list and having won six world titles, Ray Reardon certainly qualifies as something special.
He is the only man on this list who truly dominated the game whilst at his peak as he won four world titles on the bounce from 1973-76 and one either side of this purple patch which meant he won six of the 10 World Championships in the 1970s.
World rankings did not come in until 1975 but it is safe to say that he was the first man to hold that mantle and remained as the world’s premier player until May 1981. He only surrendered the mantle for a year to Cliff Thorburn before regaining it and passing on the title to Steve Davis 12 months later. He remains third in the list of longest incumbents of the number one spot, only behind Davis and Stephen Hendry.
His longevity in the game was immense having turned professional in 1967 and finally retiring in 1991 but his standard was still high at the end of his playing days. Age was never an issue for the man known as Dracula as he is surely the only man who will ever be world number one at the age of 50.
He was also an entertaining player and a hugely popular man in British sport at the time. A legend of the game, he thoroughly deserves his number one spot on this list.