Blog/What are Dennis Taylor's Biggest Snooker Successes?
What are Dennis Taylor's Biggest Snooker Successes?
6 min read

What are Dennis Taylor's Biggest Snooker Successes?

6 min read
dennis-taylor-snooker-successes
Kyle McManusOct 27, 2021

Celebrating the Snooker Legend's Greatest Professional Achievements

Dennis Taylor is one of the most popular snooker players of all time. He achieved an incredible run of successes during his long career, and has remained an active part of the snooker world since he retired as a professional player.

We thought it was time to take a fond look back at Taylor's incredible career, so join us as we celebrate his rise to world champion and beyond.

Dennis Taylor - Snooker Success from a Young Age

Dennis Taylor was born in Coalisland, Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1949. He started to play snooker at nine years old and became known locally for his skills. Taylor left Northern Ireland for Lancashire, England, at 14, and his first success came several years later when he won the 1968 British Junior Billiards Championship. This set him on the road to becoming a professional snooker player, a goal he later achieved in November 1972.

A young Dennis Taylor, known for his funny snooker glasses. Image credit: Facebook/Dennis Taylor.
A young Dennis Taylor, known for his funny snooker glasses. Image credit: Facebook/Dennis Taylor.

He made his pro debut at the 1973 World Snooker Championship, but he wasn't quite ready to claim the world champion title just yet. He narrowly lost 9 - 8 to Cliff Thorburn in the tournament's opening round, and was unable to qualify for the following year's event. However, he made it to the semi-finals of the 1975 World Championship, losing out to Eddie Charlton with a whopping 19 - 12.

But Dennis Taylor made a bigger name for himself in 1977; he reached the semi-finals again, and then reached the finals in 1979 when he took on Terry Griffiths. While he lost 24 - 16, he still showed himself to be a player of immense skill and determination.

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Claiming the Top Spot at the Snooker Grand Prix in 1984

1984 was a turbulent year for Dennis Taylor. He reached his third semi-final at the World Snooker Championship but lost to Steve Davis. He began the new season of the Jameson International later, but withdrew from the event after his mother passed away.

Still, Taylor went on to win the 1984 Rothmans Grand Prix, which offered the then-biggest cash prize for first place. He beat Cliff Thorburn 10 - 2, and dedicated his achievement to his late mother. After playing snooker professionally for 13 years, Taylor had finally been crowned champion at a major event. But it certainly wouldn't be the last time!

Dennis Taylor (far right) the World Champion snooker player surrounded by other famous players. Image credit: Wst.tv
Dennis Taylor (far right) the World Champion snooker player surrounded by other famous players. Image credit: Wst.tv

Facing Off Against Steve Davis at the 1985 World Snooker Championship

Dennis Taylor went on to score another amazing achievement in 1985: he faced three-time champ Steve Davis in the World Championship final — a match that became one of the biggest in the sport's televised history.

Taylor was close to defeat for much of the match, but gradually managed to pull himself back from the edge. The pair reached a deciding frame with the scores equal at 17 - 17. Taylor was behind Davis with five coloured balls left, but potted a long brown ball, followed by the pink and blue. He then potted the final black and won the championship, bringing the nail-biting finale to a dramatic conclusion.

Steve Davis (left) and Dennis Taylor (right) at the World Snooker Championship final in Sheffield. Image credit: PA.
Steve Davis (left) and Dennis Taylor (right) at the World Snooker Championship final in Sheffield. Image credit: PA.

An unbelievable 18.5 million viewers across the UK watched this match, and it's still the most-watched show on BBC2. His hometown, Coalisland, awarded Taylor the key to the city and held a victory parade attended by thousands of people after he won the World Championship.

In 2019, Taylor said he was amazed that "34 years later, we're still taking about it." He admitted that of the many memorable finals in the sport's history, "that one sticks in everyone's memory".

Taylor returned to the Rothmans Grand Prix that same year. He made it to the final but lost 9 - 10 to Davis. That face-off was the sport's longest one-day final, lasting more than 10 hours.

Winning the Masters in 1987

Dennis Taylor took on Alex Higgins, himself from Northern Ireland, in the final of the Masters in 1987. He was falling behind at a narrow 5 - 8 but amazingly made a comeback and won the match 9 - 8. As a result, Taylor became the last snooker player from Northern Ireland to win the coveted Triple Crown for decades.

Taylor's victory pose after a lengthy 14 hours and 50 minutes of snooker. Image credit: PA.
Taylor's victory pose after a lengthy 14 hours and 50 minutes of snooker. Image credit: PA.

This is the title bestowed upon players who become Snooker Champion across the top three professional tournaments: the World Championship, the UK Championship, and the Masters. This changed in 2018, though, when Belfast's Mark Allen claimed the first Triple Crown of his career (so far).

Dennis Taylor has said that he heard Higgins had ordered celebratory champagne during the match, and felt motivated to win. He told the Shropshire Star that if he hadn't heard of Higgins' premature order of a victorious bottle of bubbly, he "probably wouldn't have won the Masters that year."

Further Success in 1987 at the Carling Challenge

Dennis Taylor racked up another incredible achievement at the Carling Challenge in 1987, a non-ranking tournament featuring four professionals. Aside from Taylor, the other players were Stephen Hendry, Neal Foulds, and Joe Johnson. Taylor made a remarkable break of 141, the highest of his career, and claimed victory from Joe Johnson in the final (winning 8 - 5).

Dennis Taylor at the 1985 Snooker World Championship. Image credit: David Muscroft/Shutterstock.
Dennis Taylor at the 1985 Snooker World Championship. Image credit: David Muscroft/Shutterstock.

Facing Steve Davis Again at the 1990 Irish Masters

Taylor and Davis competed in yet another final at the 1990 Irish Masters. Other players included Willie Thorne, John Parrott, Alex Higgins, and Jimmy White. Taylor lost 9 - 4 to Davis, who won the tournament for the fifth time. However, Dennis Taylor was unable to repeat his former successes, and retired from the world of professional snooker in 2000. But that wasn't the end of his career...

Taking on the World Seniors Tour

The World Seniors Snooker - World Seniors Tour enables players 40+ years of age to compete professionally. It was established in 2017 by Snooker Legends, and includes various non-ranking events. Past winners include Jimmy White, Cliff Thorburn, and Steve Davis. Taylor has taken part in the World Seniors Tour, but he announced his retirement in 2021 after losing to Barry Pinches in the first round of the World Seniors Championship.

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Dennis Taylor - Snooker Commentator and Television Personality

Taylor is a likeable presence on television, whether he's taking part in a snooker match or a dancing competition. For most of his career, Taylor had a unique look thanks to his famous 'upside-down' glasses, his most distinguishing feature. These were developed by the late Jack Karnehm, and enabled Taylor to judge his shots more accurately. Taylor said that he would "never have won the world championship" without those glasses. Even non-snooker fans may have recognised Taylor from his glasses when he appeared on the classic BBC game show Big Break throughout the 1990s.

Dennis Taylor puts on his dancing shoes for the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing competition in 2005. Image credit: IMDb.
Dennis Taylor puts on his dancing shoes for the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing competition in 2005. Image credit: IMDb.

He also took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2005, but was voted out in the fifth week. Former cricketer, Darren Gough, and dancer, Lilia Kopylova, went on to win in the final. Dennis Taylor has provided commentary for the BBC on many occasions, along with fellow former player John Virgo. Today, Taylor lives in Wales with his wife, Louise, and their two children.

While you're here

Are you a big fan of this sporting legend? Want to treat the snooker fan in your life? Book a personalised message from Dennis Taylor now at Thrillz!

Kyle McManus
Kyle McManusCopywriter
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