Betfred’s Mark Pearson caught up with Dennis Taylor to talk about his earliest memories of “The Rocket,” Jimmy White’s six World Championship finals, the story of Alex Higgins, SAT NAV Selby, Mark Williams, the defending champion and that famous black ball final in 1985.
Dennis’ early memories of Ronnie O’Sullivan
Speaking exclusively to Betfred, Dennis talks about when we first noticed a young Ronnie in the qualifiers and how impressed he was. Making his century at 10 years old, Dennis and Ronnie both believe that he was a better player back then!
“We knew he was going to be a very very special player.”
Dennis goes on to say how popular Ronnie is around the world and how he is his Number 1 player EVER.
“In China he is probably as popular Ding Junhui, if not even MORE popular.”
Despite the great players to ever grace the game such as Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, Ronnie is only player that Dennis would describe “Genius.” He describes his brain as quick, fast and always falls into position. Dennis also adds how he believes that maximum break in 1997, will be a record that will stand for all time.
“Ronnie has overtaken Stephen Hendry”
“I could cry for him,” Dennis on Jimmy White
Jimmy White reached six World Championship finals but never won the event. In the interview, Dennis believes the closest he (Jimmy) came was in 1994 when he lost in a final frame decider against Stephen Hendry. A miss on the black off the spot was all it took for Stephen Hendry to claim his 5th world title.
“To lose them all, bit of a travesty, but things happen in sport, it’s one of things that is difficult to explain”
Putting Snooker on the map
Dennis gave us his thoughts on fellow countryman Alex Higgins and shared some of his earliest memories of Alex when he was 18.
“He was a breath of fresh air and did a lot for the game”
Despite having his (Alex) controversial moments, Dennis believes Alex had a major impact on the world of snooker, his unpredictability endeared the public and made him one of snooker’s hall of famers.
“He could be controversial used to pick arguments with the referees, we had that time he headbutted the tournament director and then he punched one of the referees, but besides all that he did a lot for the game.”
Mark and Dennis also had a look back at Alex’s emotional win in 1982.
“To do it after 10 years is quite incredible, I honestly though Ray Reardon was going to beat Alex that year.”
SAT NAV Selby
Moving on to the modern Era, Mark gets Dennis’ opinion of the “Jester from Leicester” Mark Selby. Mark Selby has been World Snooker Champion three times and was number one in the world rankings for more than four years continuously.
“When he’s on song, he’s so difficult to beat because he’s going to win a frame when he gets the chance.”
Dennis goes on to describe Mark Selby as “one of the best match players the game has ever seen,” putting him on the pedestal next to Ray Reardon, Cliff Thornburn and Terry Griffiths.
Reliving that famous naked press conference
Going back to 2018, Dennis describes the final with Mark Williams and John Higgins as the best crucible finals he’s ever seen. He believes Mark Williams winning the 2018 Betfred World Championship (15 years after his previous win) is right up there with his best achievements and he certainly made the most out of it!
“No one in the history of winning the World Championship has enjoyed themselves more than Mark Williams”
In that same year, Betfred’s Mark Pearson asked Mark during the quarterfinals “what would it mean to win another world title?” Mark’s response was that he would do the press conference bare naked!
“Mark is just one of those laid-back characters, a boy from the valley who never changes”
Can Judd Trump defend his title?
After winning his first world title last year and completing the triple crown, Mark and Dennis discuss whether Judd can now go on and dominate the game. They firstly go back to Judd’s first final in 2011 against John Higgins. Leading up to the final, Dennis was dazzled by the Judd’s potting ability. However, due to inexperience, Dennis believes there was a moment in the final that Judd gave away his 1st World Title.
“One shot on the blue, if he pots the blue he goes 4 frames ahead, Judd who is very quick around the table, thought for nearly 2 mins and eventually decided to cut the blue in, he was going to play safe, decided to cut it in, wobbled the jaws, John won the frame and that turn the match around!”
Despite losing that 2011 final, Dennis believes Judd is a more mature player, he’s full of confidence after winning his first world title and says that he could even come back to defend his title.
“I could see him coming back and defending his title and winning the world championship for a second time.”
Did someone mention 1985?
Finally, Mark and Dennis talk about that famous black ball final in 1985 against Steve Davis. Dennis goes into great details about his emotions before, during and after the match.
“When I got back into it, you’re not thinking about the outcome, you’re just trying to win that last frame”
“If we had a thought that there were going to be that many people watching it, we wouldn’t have been able to hold the cue.”
Dennis goes on to say how it was one of his memorable moments of his career, but it was also one of Steve Davis’ aswell!
“For someone like Steve Davis to say, he’ll remember that one more than the six titles that he won, is quite something.”
“When it disappeared into the pocket, it’s hard to describe the feeling.”
The interview ends with Dennis telling Mark a funny story about how he gets a lot of stick from his other snooker friends including Stephen Hendry and Ken Doherty, who complain about him mentioning 1985 a lot!