Dennis Taylor

Join me, Sean O’Neill, as I chat with Dennis Taylor. Born on 19 January 1949 in Coalisland, Northern Ireland, Dennis is a former professional snooker player best known for his remarkable victory at the 1985 World Snooker Championship. His win in this tournament is famously remembered for the dramatic final frame against Steve Davis, which concluded with a tense black ball finish, capturing the attention of a record television audience across the UK

Dennis Taylor | My Life In Snooker and The Truth About The Black Ball Final

Sean O’Neill: I’m Sean O’Neill, and welcome to my weekly podcast where I chat to the key figures who shape and lead their industries. Today, my guest is Dennis Taylor.

Dennis Taylor: I turned pro. There was only 16 professionals in the world. You took a risk, didn’t you? I mean, what made you decide then just to pack in the game?

Sean O’Neill: I have to calculate everything. If I’m not going to be in the top 16 within the next few years, then I’m not gonna have enough money.

Dennis Taylor: And there’s one letter in from a fellow from Liverpool. He said, I think it’s fantastic how you can switch hands and play like that, Dennis. He says, you know, I’d give my left arm to be ambidextrous.

Sean O’Neill: You’ve been rolling since the minute you walked in before I arrived.

Dennis Taylor: Oh, there we go. Well, I have come out with some strange stuff.

Sean O’Neill: Some of the best stuff is when we need to know what’s happening.

Dennis Taylor: But you started playing back home. Where did you play back home?

Sean O’Neill: I played in the Cue club in Ury.

Dennis Taylor: Are you new? That’s Pat Jennings. Part of the world.

Sean O’Neill: Yes. Big Pat was one of the….

Dennis Taylor: Because Pat used to for spurs, my best friend, or one of my best friends, Mike England, the footballer that played for Blackburn and Spurs, used to room with Pat Jennings.

Sean O’Neill: Well, Pat Jennings was born on the same road as my dad’s family. I was in the Q club and I think, well, whether I had a skill or just fell into it, my dad owned a pub, so I was hustling on the pool table from the age of seven, eight, nine, and at the weekends. My mum used to love to go out, so in them days I could get into the pub and I was just hustling all night at the pool table. Little did I know, you know, they’re the skills. You’re learning how to hold your own against people that are older, superior, against the crowd late at night.

And I remember when I went to the Q club for my first junior competition, I just felt like as if I owned the place already because, you know, I was in environments that were at that time when you think would have probably terrified people. So going in amongst people my age, it ended up being quite fun and relaxing.

Dennis Taylor: So you were making a few quid then at…

Sean O’Neill: Oh, I made more money at the weekends hustling than I did if my parents gave me pocket money for a month.

Dennis Taylor: See, I never did get to. Well, I suppose I hustled in one respect. There was only one fella because I knew I was going to beat him. He used to come up from the pub and go into Jim Joe Garvin’s club. And I thought, well, this will be half a crown or whatever it was. It’ll keep me going in games for a while. You know, he used to beat him all the time. But he did. He did beat me. He did beat me one day and I hadn’t got any money to pay him. Oh, that was embarrassing. I’ll never forget, because I did the most silliest thing because I panicked and I went into the toilet.

Now, the front door is next to the toilet door, right? I’ve gone into the toilet. And I was in such a state because I had no money to pay for the table or him, and I was in such a state, I got out through the little window in the toilet. That’s the panic I was in. I could have just walked out the front door, but I wanted him to see me going in the toilet. And anyway, that taught me a lesson. Yeah, to always have a few. If you’re going to play for money, make sure you’ve got it. But that’s where I started playing in Girvan’s club. Did you ever get up to….

Sean O’Neill: I ended up being Northern Ireland under 19 champion in Girvan and Coal island. Yeah.

Dennis Taylor: Well, the club you played at before that, there used to be the police station opposite that club, but there was the original Jim Joe’s club. We called it Jim Joe’s. That was his name, Jim Joe Girvin. Two tables in it. And I was only, what’s eight or nine years of age, walking up Plato’s Hill in Coal island, and the door was open and I seen — That’s the first time I ever seen a snooker table with the green cloth and the balls. And I thought, God, it just fascinated me.

And I knew my brother went in there and there was no alcohol or anything, but it didn’t open to 06:00. And I said to my brother, can you ask him if I would be allowed to sit and watch them playing? And because I was a good little boy, they let me sit holding the rest for them. I handed him a rest and then they let me stand on a. It was like a lemonade box that I kept under the table. So that was how I took my first shot, standing on a lemonade box. And that’s how I started playing snoop.

Sean O’Neill: Did you actually think you were any good?

Dennis Taylor: Well, at the beginning, you’ve no idea how it’s going to go. But then I got playing more, and at the age of 14, I was the best in billiards, because back in those days, you wouldn’t have played much billiards.

Sean O’Neill: I was taught. My snooker coach, Patsy, used to ask me to do at least a half an hour or an hour billiards a week to understand the angles.

Dennis Taylor: Yeah, well, we played billiards and snooker and at 14, I was the best in Coal Island. Well, in the area around, but we never played. We had an a team that used to win the local league, but I think the highest break was 60. Nobody had ever seen a break above 60, but they were all steady, good players. And I didn’t realize until I moved to England just how good we were. But I had. My highest break was 60, and I moved to England when I was 17.

Sean O’Neill: Do you think that was because of the weight of the balls? Because I remember playing a game of snooker in a club in Armagh and there were ivory balls. They were as heavy. You just couldn’t screw back. You just had to follow through. I think they would have been good for billiards.

Dennis Taylor: Yeah, that’s what they were. But they had to be turned every so often because they went out of shape. The old ivory balls. Imagine you wouldn’t get every snook of balls nowadays. But that was it. And it was a fluke how I went to England because I worked in the local pipeworks and they made a fellow. They used to try and make. You had to make so many pipes in a shift, and they used to try and make them quick and then they play cards for the rest of the shift. They made a faulty batch, some of them.

So the foreman, the manager, came in, sacked the whole squad, six of us, and then he come back to see my mom a week later and said, well, listen, it wasn’t Dennis’s fault. He can have his job back. And I’d made my mind up to go over to stay with my aunt in England and look for a job there. And only for that happening, I might still have been living in Coal Island. So that was my first time in England when I was 17. And then I realized I was pretty good at snooker and made a hundred break within being in Blackburn within three months, because I was playing better players.

Sean O’Neill: But was there an awareness that at that stage, you were close to being as good as anyone else, or was there people out there you thought, wow….

Dennis Taylor: If I thought it was better, but that’s what I did when I moved to Blackburn. I play with someone that was a little bit better than myself. And then when you beat him, you just kept playing better players. But, of course, then my first competition was the billiards, the British junior billiards championship. 1960, was it? 60? 68?

And that’s when they brought me back to Coal Island to do an exhibition, back to Girvin’s club and they got the All Ireland amateur snooker champion to come along to play the exhibition against me. And Jackie Bates, who was a. A billiards player from Belfast, but the — All Ireland amateur snooker champion who turned up at Girvan’s club was Alex Higgins. And that was the first time I met Alex. We were both 18 and I thought, this fella’s a bit special, the way he plays. I’ve never seen anybody run around the table like that.

He was a bit of a pain in the neck even back then, because he was talking away while Jackie Bates was playing at the table. I said, Alex, you can’t be talking while he’s doing his show. But that was the first time I met. Met Alex. And then he came over to Blackburn, where I was based.

Sean O’Neill: So was there a reason that you didn’t go to them competitions just purely because you’d moved to England, did you not, had you not get a thought, I’d like to be Irish amateur championship?

Dennis Taylor: Well, no, you were living in England. So I was playing in the English, the English Championship, and there was very. I don’t think there wasn’t going back. Jackie rare was just, he was known as the Irish champion because there was no other players really around. So we didn’t get the Irish championship. You got to final straight away. He used to play around Robin with himself.

So that was the introduction to Alex, who moved to Blackburn. And I spent probably 18 months practicing with Alex and two local businessmen took Alex under the wing, managed him and, you know, sorted them out, got his teeth and all fixed and got him nice clothes to wear and he won the world championship in 1972. And I used to do quite well against him in practice.

And I remember thinking, if Alex has won the world championship, I might be able to turn professional. So that was one of the reasons I turned professional. And John Spencer, you remember, John was three times a world champion. He lived in Ratcliff and then he finished up having a club in Bolton.

But John proposed me to turn professional because at one stage you had to win the English amateur championship before they would consider you to be a professional. But I hadn’t won the English, but I’d won a few other titles and that. But John proposed me and I was accepted into the professional ranks. When I turned pro, there was only 16 professionals in the world and that was 1972, just after Alex won the world championship.

Sean O’Neill: How was the prize money then?

Dennis Taylor: I don’t think there was much prize money.

Sean O’Neill: Could it pay for your living expenses or did you also have to work?

Dennis Taylor: Well, you had to work. I mean, I was still working. I was. My biggest big moment in snooker was taking a big risk. Listen, as you do in all walks of life or any businesses, the people that get to the top are the ones that take the risks. And in 1974, I was managing the snooker club, had two children, I had 200 pounds in the bank, and I paid my own way to go to Canada to play in the Canadian open championship, and pack packed the job up at the snooker. So that was a huge risk. And I got to the final, beat Alex in the semi. I’ll never forget in the semifinal, I said to Alex, Alex, if you go on and win it, will you give me 100 pound? If I go on win it, I’ll give you 100 pound. You know, because it was….

Sean O’Neill: Took the pressure off.

Dennis Taylor: Yeah, yeah. Because I couldn’t even afford to stay in a hotel. I stayed with the promoter in his house, and Alex wouldn’t agree to this. He says, no, no, no, babe, I’ve got to pay for my girlfriend. You know, he used to talk a bit funny. I’ve got to pay for my girlfriend coming over. So that was it. So I played him in the semi-final. Never forget it. He made 127 break and he was, you know, all round the table, flashy the next rim, I made 128 break against him and I beat him in the semi-final. I lost him. A good friend and still my best buddy, Cliff Thorburn.

But I got to the final, and because I’d done so well there. One other thing that got me invited in. I got invited into pop black because that was the big, huge. It was for me. But one of the things that helped me not only get into the final against the Montreal champion in a little exhibition, I scored 349 without missing. And how that was, I cleared up in the first frame and then 130. I can’t remember the. But I had to break off in the second frame and I fluked to red, cleared the table again, and he broke off and I made another sanctuary.

So it was 349 without missing. And I got a lot of publicity for that and getting to the final. And Ted Lowe got me the voice of snooker, the commentator that was there in pop black. He got me an invite to pop black in 1974 and 75. I got to the final.

Sean O’Neill: So pot black was going alongside most of your career then? Cause in the timeline of putt, I kind of. I know it goes back a few years. I was born in 81, but I wasn’t sure that. So you were like mini celebrities while having a career on the side nearly.

Dennis Taylor: Well, only it only became many celebrities when pop black started. Yeah, up until Latino.

Sean O’Neill: When was — What year was that?

Dennis Taylor: It started in 69. And the three things that did a tremendous amount for snooker.

Sean O’Neill: I say many celebrities, probably. That’s understating.

Dennis Taylor: Once pop black got popular. Yeah, pop black did an awful lot for the game. John Spencer and Ray Reardon turned professional. They did a lot, but Alex probably did even more. Alex Higgins did even more than John Spencer and Ray Reardon because of the way he played the game. And once I got on to pop black, even though I didn’t win it, I got two finals. All of a sudden, you could get exhibition work at clubs because they’d seen you on television and then they moved.

The following year, 1975, Eddie Charlton took the world championship to Australia. And you had to pay your own way to go and play in the world championships. And I went to the local brewery and I said, I’ve got to go to Australia. Any chance you could do some shows? And the money will go towards my trip to Australia. And they agreed to do ten shows. They were Lion Brewery in Blackburn at the time, and they changed the name then to Matthew Brown, but it was Lion Brewery. And I did the ten shows and I got 20 quid a night. And that 200 quid went towards the airfare to go to Australia.

And I carried on doing shows. I was still doing some shows for them and I won the world championship because they were so loyal to me. But I got to the semifinal in. In Australia, never forget it, because it was played in different provinces around Australia. And Alex was playing Ray Reardon, I think, in Melbourne, and I had to go and play Eddie chart in the semi-final in Brisbane. And listen, back then, in 1975, you could have had two Irish players in the final of the world championship. But unfortunately, Alex and myself both lost. That was a great experience, going to Australia for the first time.

Sean O’Neill: Was there anyone managing you back then?

Dennis Taylor: There was a few different. The one fella that came into the game, it was a few, but Dale Simmons was the first one that brought proper money into the game. He was a partner of Sean Connery that had a business together in London and he ran the game for a good few years, Del Simmons. And he was the one that said, listen, especially Reardon and Spencer, you boys are going out doing exhibitions for 75 quid a night. You’re on TV every week, you know, on BBC television every week. He said, it’s silly.

So he put their fee up to 500 pound and they got it, which was great for us because if they could get 500, then our fees went up. So gradually people said, would you not rather have been at the top? Now, now, the way I did it and the time I did it, there was no money in the game. And I’ve seen it grow and grow and grow and I wouldn’t have had it any different.

Sean O’Neill: I have a feeling that these guys obviously put in the effort, but had maybe a different type of pressure than now. There seems to be so much pressure, maybe in life, for people to have to perform at their best, have to watch the diet, have to watch their sleep, have to say the right thing, which is probably one of the hardest things to do. And then, you know, I find the younger people that are coming through have so much of like a conscious that if they don’t do their best, they feel like they’ve let the world down, not just themselves.

Dennis Taylor: Yeah, well, you, I mean, they’re under so much pressure. There’s more chances nowadays. The standard is unbelievable. You know, back 30, 40 years ago, there was maybe half a dozen really good players. The rest were average.

Sean O’Neill: But you had a lot less competition.

Dennis Taylor: Well, yeah, I mean, I always felt sorry for. I don’t know whether you remember he commentators as well. In fact, he was commentating on my final against Steve Davis in 85, a player from Baker, Jim Meadowcroft. Well, Jim used to practice with Alex and me, and Jim was a brilliant player, but he kept drawing Ray Reardon in the world championship and he nearly beat him, you know, once.

So that was the only tournament you had. You had only a couple of tournaments to go at to make your name. And Jim was a great player, great commentator, but he never quite made it because he bumped into rare Reardon. So the chances are there nowadays, but you’ve got to produce the goods and to earn a really good living, you’ve got to get into the top 10 or certainly the top 20.

Sean O’Neill: I always say there’s part of the challenge is making the money, but the biggest challenge is able to keep it and use that money wisely.

Dennis Taylor: That’s another ball game. I mean, the money in the game. Luca Brazell winning the world championship was what a fantastic player, but a bit of a shock because he wasn’t practicing. He don’t think he expected to win it. And then all of a sudden, we all. I knew. I remember presenting with the young personality of the year over in Belgium. I went over to do a live show and they had two snooker tables there, and we both had to try and clear the balls up to see who could do it the quickest.

Well, I was never going to beat Luca. He was so fast and so fluent, and I knew this fellow was going to be something special and it took him a while to come through, but what a talent. Although he hasn’t, you know, since winning the world championship, he hasn’t quite performed, but he certainly enjoyed himself with the amount of money that he won.

Sean O’Neill: I find that if I look back on my career and who I thought would excel, although we say we knew that player could do it, there’s a handful of other ones that I think it’s unfair because they were so good, but they just didn’t get through. I’ll not name them on here, but some players that I know had an ability that I could beat them on a good day, but if I was to play them ten times, I know they’re gonna win seven or eight of it. And somehow they just vanished.

They were world amateur champions, world junior champions. They thought the projection was gonna be, you know, off the charts. They look like record breaking players, so. And I sort of thanked, you know, they’re the people that I think to myself, my God, if you. I thank my lucky start.

Dennis Taylor: You made the right decision.

Sean O’Neill: Well, I don’t know if it was right or not.

Dennis Taylor: I mean, you took a risk, didn’t you? I mean, what made you decide then just to pack in the game?

Sean O’Neill: I…. Which works in my favor sometimes and not on others. I have to calculate everything. I’m completely sort of numbers driven and statistics driven, and I thought that if I am going to be. You said you have to be in the top 10 in the world. And I thought that if I’m not going to be in the top 16 within the next few years and stay there for so many years, then I’m not going to have enough money. I’m going to have this, like, face of fame. People’s going to know me, but my pockets are going to be empty. And I thought that would be even worse than my pockets empty and nobody know me.

So I did a quick calculation and I figured out that Stephen Hendry and or Ronnie O’Sullivan, who at the time you could say were going to be, are arguably the two best players in the world, or they’re going to be the two players who are going to make the most money, are going to end up topping out at about six to 10 million pounds worth of wealth and they’re people, they’re two of a kind.

So I thought, well, if I’m half as good as them, I’m going to come in with about two to 3 million pounds, then that two or 3 million pounds is going to be spaced over 10, 15, 20 years. I said, I realized that actually I’m going to end up making maybe a hundred grand a year, giving my life to something, at best.

So I calculated, I remember drawing it out and I thought, right, I put unbelievable pressure on myself to, to try and hit these targets. But at the same time, I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse. I moved to Liverpool. You introduced me to Dawn McPherson. I said, I need a mine coach for this. So I just moved to Liverpool, and at the exact same week, I moved into apartment block and I met these property developers.

And a quick look around me and I just figured out these guys are worth x times more than Ronnie or Stephen or the numbers. Just, I couldn’t get my head around it. I’ve met people that could have that amount of wealth and then. So, but they took me under their wing and they sponsored me the first year at snooker, but the more they sponsored me, the more they wanted to spend time with me. And we got on well.

And I remember the day I went for a practice session to Blackburn and I was, it was two each and we were playing a money game. And I get a phone call. Hello? Sean, we’re gonna have dinner in a few hours. What are you up to? And I said, nothing. Nothing. Where is it? Yeah. Okay. I thought, I want to spend time with these guys.

And at that moment, the unreal expectations for me to get to the top, but wanting to spend my time with people that I could get knowledge from, that took me under their wing, that just completely. I got fixated about the fact that if there is a life after sport, that’s my direction. Whether, I don’t know, but I knew then, before I quit that year, I give myself expectations that if I met it, it would be amazing. But if I didn’t, I have to choose another path.

Dennis Taylor: Very few players would have thought that way. I mean, that’s just the mentality that you had, and obviously you made the right decision. I think other players would just keep playing until they wouldn’t even contemplate what they were going to earn or what they weren’t going to earn.

Sean O’Neill: And you just touched on it before. If you’re going to be successful, you just have to commit or take that risk. I handed the sponsorship back, I had little or no money in my bank account, and I had no career and I had no job, and I didn’t know what to do.

And I remember the day I rang my dad and I didn’t realize the emotional impact and what it had on him. It was years later when we just talked about it. He said, you know, it put him in a really strange place because he was worried about me. How could Sean quit his career? Why would Sean quit his career? Because I couldn’t give a reason. I couldn’t say, I’m on the path because I’m getting this. I’m actually just doing nothing.

Dennis Taylor: How old were you then?

Sean O’Neill: I was 23.

Dennis Taylor: Wow!

Sean O’Neill: And it’s for another day. But it was a really difficult first year. It was a time that I wouldn’t wish on anyone to go through because I had to dig deep to tell myself that I’d made the right decision, although there was little or no prospect of what I was going to do, but because I had no choice, and my only choice now was to gain knowledge from these people. Research, read, connect.

I got a phone call then, and my first break. Your first break always comes when you least expect it. And ironically, the ex-owner of the Q club rang me, Tony. And he was always a great supporter of mine. And Tony helped me out in the early days and helped me with free practice. And he says, I heard you quit your career. He said, yeah. I said, yes. And he said, why in hell would you do that? And I said, I’m a property investor, because I was so embarrassed to say what I. At that time, I had purchased the apartment that moved into Durant on a — On a 90% mortgage, and I had paid a deposit on another apartment. And then that was coming 2004, 2005, and things were starting to go, you know, the property prices.

He says, oh, yeah? He says, well, if you’ve quit your game for properties is I want to know. He said, I just saw my snooker club, million pound. He said, I’ve never want to do with it. I had someone who trusted me. I had the other guys looking after me. I all of a sudden had a product. I had people with money, and I put them together, and that was my first deal.

And when that deal happened, it was like that light-bulb moment. I just need to repeat that deal, you know, that was months and months of earnings from playing snooker through a phone call anyway, and it snowballed. What happened in the next couple of years could write a book on its own.

Dennis Taylor: Well, there you go. You had to take that risk you decided it’s everybody in life. No matter what they do, if they don’t take the risk, people will just carry on and they’ll work for 40 years in the factory, retire and get a watch or whatever it is, and that’s it — and a lot of people are quite happy to do that, but you’ve got to take the risk.

Sean O’Neill: And to be fair, I admire that, because some people do sacrifice. There is an element of selfishness, if that’s the right word. Okay. I like to do my best for people, but I do have to look after myself or do what I need to do first, and what I do matter. People that just stick at it and grind. I just think, how can they just grind the 40 years past? But they do it for their family, they do it for their parents, they do it for all the right reasons.

Dennis Taylor: Yeah, I can go back to that. When I met Jim, Joe Gavin’s first club, and they used to show snooker, believe it or not, way before pop black on grandstand, if the horse racing was reined off, they had a certain amount of snooker that they recorded. In fact, I finished up staying with the fella in Bristol. He was a chemist and he had a snooker room. And that’s where Joe Davis and Fred Davis and John Pullman and Rex Williams went and recorded just little matches in his room. And it was filmed for. The BBC would film it.

And I would sit in Girvin’s club looking at a little tiny black and white set, seeing these people play snooker. I said, they’re playing on television. And then Jackie Ray, who was the Irish champion and great character, great exhibition player, one of the best ever. And then suddenly you see somebody that’s Irish on the television. Couldn’t believe it. And then I did get to play. Jackie came and did an exhibition at Girvin’s club when I was only 14. And what a thrill that was to see somebody that you’d seen on a little black and white television.

So, yeah, so Snuka was on TV back in the sixties with the great Joe Davis and Fred. I mean, Joe Davis was 20 years undefeated champion, and his brother Fred, who. Who was an excellent player, ten times world champion, but there were two brothers, but they were like chalk and cheese. Joe was quite arrogant. Fred was the loveliest. When I played in my first pop black, I’ll never forget it to this day. I’ve got a beautiful photograph of.

I probably got on the phone of Fred Davis, but I played in pop black went down to the dressing room and he’d just finished his match and I was going in and I opened the door outside the dress room there, and it was Fred Davis first time I met him, and he stood there with his cue and his waistcoat on, and he spent about ten minutes chatting to me and I thought, well, what a nice man this is. Although he was ruthless on the table because I did play him, but what a lovely gentleman.

Do you know he qualified at the Crucible Theatre? He got to the semi-final when he was 64 years of age. Because I remember that song when I’m 64, the Beatles number that played that one. And then he qualified to play at the Crucible when he was 70 years of age. I mean, that is incredible.

Sean O’Neill: Do them stats not count now, whenever they’re saying about who won the most world championships…

Dennis Taylor: You know, sometimes we mention these and, you know, especially of a game in the comedy box of a game, not a lot’s happening. And some people love to hear this here, but then some of the. I’ve heard some of the young, I won’t mention any of the young. They’re the modern, you know, what are they talking about old players like that in the comedy box for? You only do it if there’s a lull in the match and it might add a little bit to it.

There’s a lot of people that forget about nostalgia, and a lot of the modern players don’t realize. In the early days, when we used to go to Australia, we did a pop black version out in Australia. Eddie Charlton and Ted Lowe used to come and we used to go around and meet all these business people and have lunch with them, with Ted Lowe. And this was all promoting snooker. And a lot of them don’t realize that some of the older players spent an awful lot of time promoting the game and helped to get the game to where it is today.

Sean O’Neill: I’ve spent a lot of time with younger people, helping them with career progression, mentorship, life after their career already, because in these days, you could be in your mid-twenties like me, and your career’s finished. And I always go back to growing up on the farm. The values I learned, I wouldn’t be here without the older people, without all these stories, without all these. The stories and memories is what actually keeps me on track and appreciate that without the older generation of whatever field you’re in, they paved the way for you, for us, or even the next generation below me to be there.

But we talked about some amazing names there. Have you got a top three, top five people that you think not just maybe Ronnie always comes to the name, but maybe people that have such an impact on the game that you have to not just skill level, but a huge impact that you think were.

Dennis Taylor: I think, yeah, we talked about Alex and Jon Spencer and Ray Reardon, Dan, all off of the game, but I think Steve Davis became a brilliant ambassador for the game. People said he was boring and, you know, interesting, but he came on the scene and changed the game, really, because he put multiple hours of practice in. We used to practice, but you didn’t practice the way they do the modern player. But Steve was the first one to maybe play five, 6 hours a day, and Barry Hearn took him under his wing. He bought out the Lucania snooker clubs at the time, they’re all temperance clubs.

And then he got the match room club going and Steve and Barry became close friends and Steve used to play. All the top players were brought down to Romford to play against Steve, and you’d have two or 300 people in and he was beating everybody because he was that good.

So Steve had a big impact on the game of snooker and raised the standards because you had to start putting the hours in just to be able to compete to him, because he dominated the game throughout the eighties. So you would have to say that he has been a big influence on the game. He’s a lot of fun. I do a lot of shows with Steve now. We do the black ball final and John Virgo comes with us in the theaters.

Sean O’Neill: Every time I’ve been speaking to you, you’ve been on the road doing another show.

Dennis Taylor: No, the show. We love them. Steve loves it as well, you know, and, you know, we have to chat about that in the first half of the show. We’ll play a couple of frames and then set the black up and talk about it. And I get to win every night on the black. But he’s very, very funny, Steve. But he was — I used to say in front of him, I said, yeah, God, you were so boring back in the eighties.

I remember when you used to take a valium as a stimulant. But he does make fun of himself. But he said, yeah, people, it was David Vine’s fault. He said, I’d be winning at snooker, he’d come out with a microphone and ask me questions about snooker and I would answer him on snooker and people say, see, he just talks about snooker all the time, but he is a lot of fun nowadays and he probably paved the way.

And then, of course, Stephen Hendry came on after. Stephen dominated the game throughout the nineties for two players to dominate. As you know, you played the game. To dominate for ten years is exceptional. So they both had a big impact on the game. Lots of players did, but them too, in particular. And then, of course, Ronnie came along.

But you always need the characters and you had your Alex Higgins and then Jimmy White came along. Jimmy, six times he lost in the final of the world championship. He’s won everything else but couldn’t. If Stephen Henry hadn’t been around, he’d have been twice at least world champion. So he came along, then he was another. And then, of course, Ronnie. Ronnie’s the one. People say, well, nah, Steve. Some people think Stephen Henry is better than Ronnie. I mean, I think even Stephen admits that Ronnie’s. Well, you’ve watched him, he’s a genius on the table.

Sean O’Neill: My dad doesn’t like to change his mind. And for the best part of 25, 30 years, he’s maintained that Steve Davis was his, was the best. And in recent years he just had to admit that Ronnie is. I keep saying, dad, when are you going to change your mind? It’s been going on for a decade, dad, when are you going to change your mind? And then eventually he’s realized, like, there really is no argument.

Dennis Taylor: The things he’s done. I remember. Do you remember he got a bit of stick? Well, he didn’t get a bit of stick. It was Elaine Robert who? The Canadian lovely fella. Ronnie switched hands and potted the last colors and Elaine thought he was taking the mickey out of him. But what people hadn’t realized before he’d ever switched hands on television.

I remember playing an exhibition with Ronnie, 137 clearance he made. Every shot was played with his left hand, you know, on the cushion, wherever it was. So he was brilliant with his left hand, but he’d never do it on television. And then suddenly he switched. And isn’t it amazing the number of players that are good now at switching hands? There was only Fred Davison myself, and I changed hands because I hated the rest. I could only play certain shots left handed, not the way he could play.

And, you know, funny enough, you’ve spent an awful lot of time in Liverpool. I remember when we used to get the fan mail at the crucible because you were there for 17 days and there was one letter in from a fellow from Liverpool.

He said, I think it’s fantastic how you can switch hands and play like that, Dennis, he says, do you know, I’d give my left arm to be ambidextrous. It would have to be somebody from Liverpool that came out with that what a classic that was. I never forgot that, that letter I got from him. Yeah, but, yeah, so there. And Ronnie also, he’s beaten all Stephen Henry’s records with the exception of world titles. And I think it’s just a matter of time because he will win his 8th.

Sean O’Neill: Will he stick out until he gets it?

Dennis Taylor: Oh, yeah, because you don’t know when he’s retiring. Every other week, Steve, when Steve David talks, yeah, Ronnie comes in the studio and he said, well, Ronnie, oh, I didn’t play very well. I think I’m going to retire. I’m sitting there and then next tournament he makes a maximum break and comes in and says, oh, I think I’m going to retire.

So Ronnie won’t retire for quite a few years. I think he can be winning world championships in his 50s because what is he now? He’ll be coming up to 40, 49 next birthday, I think he is. And that maximum break in five minutes and 20 seconds, I commentated on that. In fact, they’ve rounded it down to 5 minutes and 8 seconds because they’ve now said it’s from the first. I don’t think that’ll ever be beat.

Sean O’Neill: I remember sitting at home watching that.

Dennis Taylor: The only player that could possibly beat that is Tepcaro Anou, you know, the Thai player, he is left hander. He has made maximums in six, seven minutes. But he — But I can’t see it happening in the world championship.

Sean O’Neill: So someone like. I don’t know the answer to this. Like James Watana, he just vanished. He was. He was somebody who was….

Dennis Taylor: James was the first from that neck of the woods and I hadn’t….

Sean O’Neill: Everyone speculated that Asia’s going to take over the sport.

Dennis Taylor: Thailand. There was nobody in China at the time.

Sean O’Neill: Yeah, Thailand was….

Dennis Taylor: It was, yeah, because I remember he made an early maximum break in his career and I’d forgotten it. Hey, with the British Open and I commentated on it. Was it the world match play? I think what a talent he was, James Watson. And he started the game, opened it up out in Asia and then Steve and me, when we won that, when we played that 85 final, we were playing in Hong Kong and we went to Canton, which is now guanciale on the train, to give an. This is when we were out playing and we were the first Nuka players into mainland China. And about 15 of the press traveled with us on the, on the train.

I’ve still got the ticket that was on that train. It was a soft seat. There was just benches in these trains and going into China. Nobody played. They played it even in the streets, but nobody was any good. We played a couple of players and I think the highest break was 20, and they liked the game of snooker. And I couldn’t believe it. When I went back 30 years later to China, the difference was incredible. I think we’ve seen about a dozen cars. It was all bicycles.

I mean, I remember waiting to go across Tiananmen Square. Barry Hearn, he came with one of the great lines. We had to wait for about ten minutes while all thousands of bicycles went past. And Barry said, isn’t it amazing that someone from China has never won the Tour de France? Why would he think of saying that? But to go back and see how China had developed and look at the players now that’s coming out of China another 10 years, the top 16 players in the world, I wouldn’t be surprised if at least ten of them are not from China.

Sean O’Neill: I remember hearing that when I was playing, but I do agree it’s going, no way.

Dennis Taylor: Well, they’re playing it in schools out there. They’re becoming so good at such an early age, and they just copy everything they see on television, and they are very, very, very, very talented. But.

Sean O’Neill: A lot of Chinese people wear glasses. That could be.

Dennis Taylor: Listen, I should have.

Sean O’Neill: They could overtake your views as being the most watched sticker player with glasses.

Dennis Taylor: I’m trying to get a thing going in China. Endorse a pair of glasses that make the balls smaller and the pockets bigger. That would go well if you could make a pair of those, wouldn’t it?

Sean O’Neill: We touched on it there. But I know it’s a question that you have been asked thousands of times, but the 1985 final was. I was four years of age and your names stuck in my head from that day till to now. And the guy from the village, the town that ends up standing there with one ball, the pot, that could just basically and has done changed the whole trajectory of your life. Just talk us through that, because it’s not an experience that many people get a chance. And how did you even hold your nerve?

Dennis Taylor: Do you know? It’s 40 years next year and we’re going to be doing quite a few shows, just celebrating the 40th anniversary. I can’t believe it’s 40 years ago and people remember that more than any other. There’s been some brilliant finals, but it’s the one that sticks in people’s memory, I suppose the fact that Steve was dominating the game then and most players were beaten before they got the cue out of the case.

But I’d done well against Steve in the Crucible, because in 1979, when he turned professional and he was beating all the players as we touched on down in Romford, Barry Hearn thought, Steve Davis will be world champion in his first year. And that was 1979. I’ll never forget. I beat him 1311 and knocked him out that year.

So I’d had a decent record against him. I played him four times. I think he beat me the year before. People forget, I played him in the semi-final in 1984 and he beat me then. So I think we’re two each. We’ve played four times at the Crucible, but I was looking forward to playing them in the final because I’d come through to the Crucible about four months before I won the grand Prix when I was going to pack snooker in.

That was when my mum, you know, I was playing up in Newcastle in the Jameson, which was one of the big major tournaments, playing the best snooker in my career, and I got the devastating news that mum, who’s only 62, had a heart attack, passed away. I couldn’t believe it because she was slim. I didn’t think there was anything wrong and I just wanted to pack the game up and went back home.

And I remember all the family, sisters and my brothers there were saying, well, listen, go back and play in the Grand Prix for your mum. And that’s what I did. And I won the grand Prix, that tournament. I beat Neil Foles. He was world number three. I beat him nine two in the semi-final and I beat him. Best friend Cliff Thorburn. I think he was world number one at the time. I beat him ten two in the final.

So really that was me playing the way you’d do in practice. I brought it onto the table, I wasn’t worried about missing. And I carried that over to the world championship and I got through to the final. I was hoping Steve would have got beaten the other semi-final because he was so tough to beat. But I had a session to spare in the quarterfinal and I got a session to spare in the semi-final to get through.

So I was really looking forward to playing Steve. And of course, we played seven frames in the first session. There’s four sessions over the two days. And I sat in the seat for the whole of the first session. He never looked like missing, seven nil. I was just sitting there wanting the crucible floor to open up and take me away and come out in the evening.

And he did the same in the first frame, eight nil. And he used to walk around the table quite stiffly. Steve, you know, he’s about six foot two, Stephen, and he used to dominate the crucible theatre and I’m thinking, there he is, look at that. But I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I wasn’t missing anything but the thing that used to get on a lot of the players. Steve used to go back to his seat, he used to pick the glass of water up and he’d go sip.

And I remember you used to think, Steve, why don’t you have a drink of that water you’re sipping of that? I’d worked out in 25 years, he hadn’t drank half a pint, half a pint of water. But he did play unbelievably well. But he made one little error, took a bit of a risky green on and it wobbled in the jaws and I won.

My first frame cleared up to win, even though he won the next. It was nine one behind. But I did in the evening what he did to me in the afternoon. I kept him in his seat and I won the last six frames, most of them with a frame winning break. I played really well, so I was only two behind going in to the final day and I could not get ahead of him. Every time I got level, he pulled two or three ahead.

And this is when BBC started cancelling all the programs to stay with the snooker. You’ve got this ginger magician playing a fella with a big pair of upside down glasses that people thought were a gimmick. But I needed them just for my eyesight because I had pretty poor eyesight and it seemed to fascinate everybody. And then it kept going and going.

And I remember David vine when it was 1715, they got the presentation party ready behind the commentary boxes to come down those stairs and they used to have a big giant check to present and they’ve got a marker pet ready to write Steve Davis’s name on the check. And they had to go back to the sponsor’s lounge because I won the next two frames to level it at 17 each and then that last frame.

Sean O’Neill: Did you know this at the time?

Dennis Taylor: No, no, no. This is stories you hear afterwards. No, no, you don’t know at the time. And the last frame starts and we didn’t realize there was nearly 19 million people staying up because it went to Africa.

Sean O’Neill: I was one of them.

Dennis Taylor: You shouldn’t have allowed up.

Sean O’Neill: I wasn’t allowed.

Dennis Taylor: But there’s some wonderful stories about people that were in bed, but I’ll maybe talk about that after. But anyway, so 17 each and we start the last frame at 11:10. And now the safety was unbelievable, but the pressure on both of us, we were missing pots that we wouldn’t normally miss. And that went on. And it got to the last four colors, which I needed, and, well, Steve under pressure, Steve used to get a bit whiter, and when I was under pressure, I’d get a bit pinker and then a nice bright red.

So I was getting red or he was getting whiter. But the last four shots, probably I’d made my mind up. Just go for anything. Don’t lose this final after fighting your way back. Don’t lose it by trying a safety shot. And I’ve knocked the brown down into the left corner pod, which we call it the yellow pocket, one of the best shots under pressure I’ve ever played. Then a tricky blue and a dodgy little pink that I rolled in, but I left the white in a position that I could back double. The black was about twelve inches from the middle pocket. Back double it.

And for some reason, and I don’t know, to this day, as I walked around, the trophy was sitting there and I kissed the little lady on the top of the lid. Why? I don’t know. I think it must have been, I’m going to win you with this shot or I’m going to lose you with this shot. Probably will have to get the touch of the trophy. And I back double it and the crowd started cheering and the thought it was in and I missed it by a fraction. But the black went safe. I was lucky. And he played an unbelievable safety shot and the black doubled it up and down the spots, which they used to do back in those days.

Then nowadays, if you got a black ball fight, they just send it onto the side cushion. And he played the perfect safety shot. And I baffled Steve for my next shot because I tried to double it from the bottom cushion into the top pocket. I mean, crazy, if I get the white reasonably safe, I’ve got a chance for the two corners to potted in. Missed both corners, but the black went past the middle pocket and was safe. And Steve messed up.

Then he tried to send the black around the angles onto the boat cushion behind the brown spot, and he double kissed the white and left me the first real chance, and I’ll never forget it. I got down to the shot, I had to put the black down past the blue spot and the green spot, and I’m up near the corner pocket, I think, keep your head still, push the cue in and out four or five times, threw in a straight line, and you’re world champion. 13 years I’d been trying to win it.

Well, when I watched it afterwards, the team talking about keeping your head still, I was about to jump that much off the queue and pushing the cue through, and I nearly knocked an old lady out in the front row with my elbow. I missed that black by so much, I nearly fluked it in the pocket. I was leaning over and then when I seen it not going in, I walked back to my seat and I thought, that’s it, I’ve blown it.

When it turned round, the black wasn’t over the pocket. It was a shot that Steve had to cut back in. And when we do these shows in the theatres, we always set that black up. And it wasn’t as easy as it looked at the time. And Steve, these are Steve’s words. He didn’t talk about it for a good few years. He said…

Sean O’Neill: I’m not surprised.

Dennis Taylor: As he got out of his seat to walk across the crucible, he said his legs had gone. They felt like somebody else’s legs. And his arms, he said they felt like somebody else’s arms. And he said to cut the black in and you’ll know this.

Sean O’Neill: Was he worried about the white going in there?

Dennis Taylor: Well, not only that, but the big thing is a shot like that under pressure, you hit it thick. You’re always going to hit it thick, for some reason. And his brain saying, don’t hit it thick. And he didn’t. He hit it too thin, he overcut it. But the white could have possibly went in off. But somehow the white kept coming around the table. If it hadn’t stopped in the middle of the table near the blue spot and I had to get the rest out.

Oh, God, what a shot that I would never have potted with the rest. I was useless with the rest. But I could get my hand on the table and I took ages on that last shot. I didn’t even grip the cue. I let the b*** of the cue rest on four fingers, kept my thumb out of the way because I snatched at the previous shot and just let go of the cue. And fortunately, that little black disappeared into that corner pocket and, well, that was all your ambitions all realized just with that one shot. And the whole place erupted and I stamp the queue and what are they?

Sean O’Neill: Cue over your head. Everybody knows that stuff.

Dennis Taylor: Do you know everybody? The things that people do when they see it and you never get fed up with it. If they’ve got a pair of glasses on, they’ll turn them upside down and they’ll wag their finger, but you know, one of the funniest stories was, I was picking my son up, he was teaching, he’s a golf professional, he was teaching in Singapore.

And I’m at Manchester airport at five in the morning to pick him up half asleep, leaving him in the car. And this fella put his family in the car and he’s got to be 60 yards away, but he shouts my name out and I thought, what’s this here? So I’ve looked over, he’s only got his glasses upside down, raising an imaginary cue above his head and wagging his finger at me.

And I thought, well, if you can do that at five in the morning, that’ll do for me. So people do them, and even to this day, they still do it. But when we talk about that final, and Steve in particular, he’s won six, you know, but he says he’ll remember that more than the six e one, because we were involved in a bit of snooker history that people, as you say, you were four at the time.

Sean O’Neill: Yeah, I was four years of age.

Dennis Taylor: But the stories I was saying, what you did to watch it, the number of people that were at school and had a little black and white television up in their bedroom, and there’s a few, the same story. They said they were watching it and they heard their dad coming up, so they switched the television off and pretended they were sleeping.

And then the next morning, the dad said, oh, you missed the great final. I come up to get you down to watch it on the big colored TV. But now there’s some lovely stories. Gloria Honeyford, you know, from northern. Gloria was hiding behind the settee. Every time I was playing a shot, she couldn’t watch me take a shot at the black, you know, the great Gloria Honeyford. Yeah. So there are lots of stories, and as I said, people still talking about it.

Sean O’Neill: Was there ever a moment after you thought, or did it haunt you? What? If not, never did?

Dennis Taylor: No, it’s never, never, ever come into my head. They did. They did do a bit at one of the world championships with Dougie Donnelly, and it was a bit of a Mickey tape, but they had Steve knocking the black in and he was raising the cue above his head. But I never thought about what would it have been like if I had a loss.

Sean O’Neill: That’s a testament to Steve, really, because, okay, you can say he won so many, but at the same time, it must have took him a bit of time to get over that one.

Dennis Taylor: Well, I mean, the interview after, I mean, he tried to be funny, but he was. He was so white. And David vine, probably everybody was caught up in the moment, and David vine, one of the best presenters ever, just happened to say to Steve, can you believe what happened there? And Steve tried to be funny. He said, well, yeah, you’ve seen it in black and white, and it didn’t work, you know, it wasn’t funny. It was just the wrong question to ask Steve. So now it took a while for him to get over that.

Sean O’Neill: So when I quit my snooker career, I had Eddie with me. Eddie was an elderly man who followed me to every game from the minute I had moved to Liverpool. And I nicknamed him my scouse granddad. So when I had finished the last game, we went for a pint and I handed him the cue, and he loved snooker, and he played all his life in one of the workerman’s clubs after his bus journey, each day he used to drive the buses and we sat, we cried. He couldn’t believe that actually he was going to follow through with this, you know, quitting my career.

And years later, he passed away, and now the queue’s back in my possession and it’s sitting there and who knows where it’s going to go, but that queue will stay in my possession, or someone very close to me forever. Have you still got your cue from that 1985 final?

Dennis Taylor: I still haven’t. In fact, I tried to use half of it. It was a wood to wood joint queue that I got that was made. And, yeah, it’s a brilliant, brilliant cue. I’ve still got the cue, but as I say, the top end of it. I remember that was the story as well. It was underneath the snooker table when we lived in Blackburn, and we had a little westy dog who happened to get into the snooker room and I got the cue under it, chewed the end, so I had to have it tapered down, but it got a bit too thin to play with.

So I still have that cue in. And the glasses. I’ve kept the glasses. Somebody offered me an awful lot of money for them, but that’s something you’re never going to let anybody have. Maybe if there was a museum or something in Ireland or whatever, you’d let go into that, but I’ve got them in with the trophies. But as I say, I took half the b*** end out and put another top in it, but I just couldn’t get on with it because I still do a bit of playing. So now it’s back in the glass case.

Sean O’Neill: You actually use it?

Dennis Taylor: I did actually use the queue, yeah, but now it’s, isn’t it?

Sean O’Neill: Better to keep it.

Dennis Taylor: I won’t use it again. It’s there. The glasses are there. I’ve got to take the glasses because I brought them over to Ireland doing a chat show, a live chat show, and I wanted to see the snooker specs. So I got them out and was short and the lens flew out of and right across the studio floor. We’re lucky to find it, so that lens still needs putting in proper. But I’ve got the — Jack Karnehm made those glasses.

Jack Karnehm was a commentator with the BBC, a professional player as well. More of a billiards champion than a snooker champion, and a great commentator. He commentated on Cliff Thorburn, the first ever maximum break made at the crucible, and his great commentary line when Cliff was down in the black, he just said, good luck, mate. And I thought that was a great bit of commentary to make the first maximum break.

So I went instead with Jack Karnehm. He lived in Bracknell and his family business as a young man was making spectacle frames and he said, I haven’t made any glasses for 30, 40 years. I said, jack, you made the ones, because he had a pair like the ones he made for me, but he never appeared on TV.

I said, I want you to make a pair like that, Jack, because some of the old players used little swiveled lengths, but you had to keep swiveling them. But he made a pair that were fixed and didn’t move. And I stayed two days with him and watched him make these by hand. And without Jack Karnehm making those upside down glasses, I might never have won the world championship that year. So a lot of it was down to the upside down glasses because I’d got pretty poor eyesight. Nearly won the world championship in 1979, the year I mentioned. It beats. It wouldn’t have had the same impact, would it?

But I had a poor contact lens because I used to take my glasses off to play at pretty poor eyesight, but played with poor eyesight because you couldn’t play with your normal glasses. But the contact lens that I got were fantastic, but I could only keep them in for 3 or 4 hours and then I couldn’t get on with them with the astigmatisms I had. But I nearly won the world championship. I beat Ray Reard and Steve Davis that year. Terry Griffiths, I led 1513. Terry beat me in the final day, so I nearly won it with the contact lens. So I knew then I had to get the glasses. And bless him, it was Jack Karnehm that made the ones that I won the world title with.

Sean O’Neill: Remember what you said to me last week? I’ll be delighted to come on your podcast. Hopefully when I die, you’ll be famous. So it’ll be the same with your glasses and your key.

Dennis Taylor: Yeah, well, I mean. I mean, it became a gimmick, people thought, but they were just purely to see through, because the first time Eddie Charleston seen them, he said, bloody hell. He said, he looks like the front end of a Ford Cortina. That was Eddie or Joe 90. Yeah, all the people said that. Joe 90.

Sean O’Neill: So a lot of what I do now is try to, through stories, educate, advise and help people on their way. And with the ops, there is usually downs, whether it’s, you know, life, career, money. And if you have an emotional roller coaster, there is usually a down. After 1985 or even after that night of that famous night where 19 million people watched you, did you struggle to come back to a level or where did it go from there?

Dennis Taylor: It was just the reaction of everybody. I’ve never had time to sort of. Normally when you win a tournament, you’ll have a low after it. I never had a chance because everything just erupted. And then, of course, Barry Hearn. I’d got an opportunity to go with, I think it was IMG at the time, and Barry Hearn, then he wanted to sign me up as well.

And because Steve and Terry Griffiths and Tony Mayer were with Barry Hearn, I decided to go with Barry, whether that was the right decision or not. Maybe if I’d have went with IMG, who knows? Anyway, I went with Barry and had five years with him, but I was so busy. I remember, God rest his soul, when I used to go over to play on Ireland, Eugene Crozier. Did you ever meet Eugene?

Sean O’Neill: I know your name.

Dennis Taylor: He used to bring all the players over and all the top players, and he was from Draperstown with Eugene, and we were heading down to Cork after it because they did a book, and Eugene featured in the book that I. The autobiography. But the things that you were doing. And sometimes you think, I’m not going to be able to fit all this in. We’re going down to Cork.

And he says, by the way, I was looking forward to having an hour’s sleep before I played the exhibition. We’ve got to go and visit this. And I’m having a go, Eugene. And then he turned around and he said, it’s your — It’s your effing fault for popping that blanket. And then we burst out laughing, you know. So, yeah, I was so busy for the next 18 months, couple of years enjoying it, especially the first year you didn’t have.

Sean O’Neill: This was true exhibitions.

Dennis Taylor: Yeah. And you didn’t have a lull because, listen, everywhere you went, the best feeling about winning a world championship, everywhere you go when somebody introduces you and saying those words, would you please welcome the reigning world snooker champ? I mean, you never get a chance to have a low, but ….

Sean O’Neill: Did your performance go down and any tournament afterwards?

Dennis Taylor: Funny enough, I started playing better. I had a great run from 85 through to two and a half years. I won tournaments all over the world. I won the Canadian Masters twice. Unbelievable win against Steve Davis the first time. In fact, I was once again, I think I was four nil down and I come back and beat him. Nine, five. I made three centuries and four frames against him. And then the following year I beat Jimmy White in the final of that, won the Australian Masters.

I think I won 19 tournaments between roughly in that two or three year period. And then it sort of eased off and then it was then starting to get hard work. But I had a great two or three years after winning that world championship. So. Yeah, but as you say, I had no problem coping with the downs because you went back home and you’ve got a family to go to. It would have been different if you hadn’t, if you had been on your own or whatever, but when you’ve got a family there, you’re soon back down to earth and you don’t have time to have any lows.

Sean O’Neill: Did that help you cope with losing your mum? Because it seemed…..

Dennis Taylor: Yeah, yeah. I mean, without family. Without a doubt, we were very close, close family and that. Yeah, that helped. And I tell you, that kept my dad going for another. Another good 15, nearly 20 years, you know, because.

Sean O’Neill: And your dad’s still back in quality.

Dennis Taylor: Well, he passed away. He was 890. What was he, 84, 85. So he had a good run. I don’t think he ever got over losing my mum, but because I finished up winning that world championship, he had.

Sean O’Neill: Plenty to talk about.

Dennis Taylor: They come over in 79. In fact, I think my mom was frightened to death because some friends of mine said, if you get to the final, we’ve got a small aircraft, we’ll send them over for your parents. And they did. My sister and my parents come over on this small plane to watch me in the final in 1979 and I lost in the final, but my mom didn’t get to see me be world champion, but my dad certainly did and he lived and people were calling at the house in Cullinan for years after visiting him would chat to everybody about it. He loved it.

Sean O’Neill: Your family and parents and the people that love you the most are sometimes the most protective of you. Did your transition from work to snooker go at an ease that all of a sudden you became this professional snooker player making money? Because I know my parents were terrified that I would quit school, that I took the chance of trying to be a snooker player. They were worried about my career, my future, my education, all of these things, which is understandable looking back. But as a kid, I thought, leave me alone, this is what I’m going to do.

Dennis Taylor: Yeah, well, when I moved over to England, I was only 17 and I wouldn’t have stayed in England. I had a few friends, close friends, that went to Manchester and were in digs. I would have been homesick, I’d have been back home straight away. But because I went to live with my aunt, I had four aunts near Blackburn, Darwin, just next door to Blackburn. I lived with my aunt, so it was like home from home. I suppose they were supportive, but my aunt Sheila, you know, she was the main one that we stayed with, her and her husband Bill, who was the loveliest Englishman.

Well, a lot of lovely Englishmen, but he was an absolute gem and everybody came over, stayed with him. And I remember saying, I was working. My brother, my older brother was with us and I was working twelve hour shifts in a paper mill when I first went over to England to earn a bit of money, seven days a week, six in the morning to six at night, and then swapped around the following week and I’d come home, you’d be up at five in the morning, so you’d work from six to six, and then I’d have a quick bit of tea and my brother and me would get on the bus outside the house. It was a terraced house they lived in, and go to Blackburn to practice.

I mean, Amant, she used to say to me, I don’t know what you’re doing with that snooker. She said, you’re exhausted, you’re working. She said, I wouldn’t mind if you were going to make something out of it. And we often laugh and joke about that, and we did afterwards, because I was quite at that age when I moved to England. I was very, very shy, you know, I couldn’t.

Sean O’Neill: It hasn’t changed, has it?

Dennis Taylor: They could not believe that I finished up on television telling stories and jokes and playing snooker and doing trick shots. It’s amazing how it all. But that was all experience. Moving to England just opened up a whole new world and you had to learn, especially with playing snooker. It’s a bit like some of the young golfers. My two sons are heavily in the golf and you’ll see at the golf club, if a youngster wins a tournament, he’s got to make a speech. Mister captain and Mister president, thank. And I had to do the same thing.

I remember the first exhibition. I had it on a little note. Mister, mister chairman, Mister president, thanks for inviting me along to your club. And you learn these little things and it took a lot, but it’s amazing how my whole thing turned around. And to go from very, very shy at 17 to finish up telling jokes on television, never in my wildest dreams would have thought that would have happened.

Sean O’Neill: People don’t believe that. I was shy as well.

Dennis Taylor: Well, there you go.

Sean O’Neill: You say, I took a — I took a public speaking course because I was so terrified of public speaking. And I remember hearing that the public speaking and stand-up comedy is feared more than death. So I thought, if I can conquer both of these, I’m going to be ahead of the game. So I did a public speaking course first, thinking that it would prepare me for a stand-up comedy. And not far from here in Liverpool, I did a four week crash course.

And after the four weeks I had to stand up in front of 250 people and do a stand up gig. And I remember there was a moment that I had almost, I was maybe like Steve Davis. My legs, my legs went, my arms went. And I thought, I’m not going to be able to pull this off. But, you know, you push through these things, you take chances and the rewards.

Dennis Taylor: You get out of it, experiences the whole thing. And I, as I say, was the first player to tell an actual stand up joke while I was doing the trick shots. But I used to use the story at the holiday camps because I would do seven holiday camps between Monday. This is before I won the world championship. And you would go round and if you’re playing at 10:00 in the morning, two frames and trick shots, you did.

And I used to use, I thought, well, if they’ve seen a comedian the night before and they’re there at 10:00 in the morning in a snooker club in Ponton’s, it was, if you tell them a joke when you’re doing the trick shot, if they laugh at that joke at 10:00 in the morning, you can use that joke anywhere. And that was my….

Sean O’Neill: What’s the joke?

Dennis Taylor: Philosophy. That was it. You just, you picked a joke and you, I mean, God, the first joke I ever told at an exhibition I’ll never forget. Oh, the fellow said, he went to the doctor, he said, I keep losing my memory. And the doctor said, how long has this been going on? And the fella said, how long has what been going on? It’s the stupidest, but it was a joke that just got you into it and then you build up and you know what people laugh at. And even to this day, I mean, some of my best friends were Irish comedians. Frank Carson, Jimmy Cricket, Roy Walker. I used to love listening to those fellas. I mean, those days are gone with the old comedians. But it was still very, very funny at the time.

Sean O’Neill: You know, if it’s funny, I look back and I guess it’s going full circle. I think things are like a pendulum. They can go extreme one way or the other way. And I always think that…

Dennis Taylor: Oh, I’m coming to Liverpool to play exhibitions. I mean, that was. I used to love that as well because they’d finish up telling you jokes, so you would always pick something up there, you know, I mean, the sense of humor’s. I do some scouse gags when I’m playing with John Parrott and I give him a great line and he uses it and brings the house down. Because if I’ve done three or four scouse gags, then John Parrott will say, Dennis, by the way, said, what’s black and blue and floats in the Mersey?

I said, I don’t know, John. He said an Irishman that tells Scouse jokes and always brings the house down. But the nice week skies guys played because Stan Boardman, Stanley very close. We play golf together, an awful lot of golf together. He’s a remarkable competitor on the golf course, but he’s so funny to play with. But we do the shows about a pledge, of course, in Liverpool with. I think Stan said he’s an honorary member at Royal Toxteth. He said he played a team competition there. He said the first prize was an alibi for four. It’s just funny. Liverpool’s sense of humor is unbelievable.

Sean O’Neill: You have had obviously a huge impact on so many people. Your sense of humor just lightens things. You have a huge amount of wisdom that maybe I’ve taken on board. So many things you’ve told me, whether you probably even remember what you’ve told me or not. There’s so many. But a huge part of my life is to guide people, show people there is a way forward.

Maybe I won’t have the answers for everybody, but at least they will ascend them on their path and can we just maybe if for the people coming through, whether it’s in snook or sport, whether it’s in any other career, is there like a top five things? Is there some guidance and advice you could say to the younger people coming through that?

One of my things is that I ask when people sit down with me and tell me they want to be successful, I say, well, have you got two decades in you? Like you’ve mentioned before, they’re about having a twelve hour a day shift, then to go and use the rest of the time, whatever time you’ve got left. And that’s the bit that made you who you are today, not the twelve hour shift kept you living. The other bit gave you who you are.

Dennis Taylor: Is there no easy way to get to be successful other than hard work? You’ve got to work at it. It just doesn’t happen. And you’re learning all the time and as you did your experiences and you meet people and you learn from those people and you study what they did and how they became successful, and you do get bits of advice along the way. I remember chatting to the great Joe Davis at pop black. We were sitting, we’re watching the monitor or something, and I’m trying to pick his brains. I mean, this is, this is the man that was undefeated 20 years, okay, he only played one challenge match a year, but still nobody could beat him.

And he said whether it would apply to other games, but I suppose it would, or in life in general. But he said, you play the percentages and it still applies this data to a stop. When you watch snooker players and you can see if the percentage are against them missing the shot, if the percentage are in your favorite, have a go at it and you can see they’re taking risks. They do take more risks now, but I still think playing the percentages are the people that have the most success. So that was a great bit of advice from Joe Davis.

But another great amateur player, Mario Bernie from South Wales, he was a wonderful orator and I used to love listening to him and he’d be chatting and people in just that lovely welsh accent. But he said something to me once and it still applies today. Really?

He said, you know where you’ll improve a great deal? He said, if you learn to beat your own ego. Now, that sounds strange, but straight away, as soon as he said it, I remembered when I first played in pop black, and instead of playing to win, you wanted to play a shot for the people watching. You think, oh, I’ll pull off this spectacular shot and you’d go, and if you miss it, you’re handing it to your opponent. And it’s a great piece of advice. Learn to beat your own ego.

It’s a wonderful bit of advice that because a lot of people do take that risk, that it’s just back to the percentages again. You maybe get three out of ten. If it’s seven out of ten, then take it on. Other bits of advice, just learn off other people. Absorb as much as you can and pick their brains all the time. And I’m sure you’ve done that throughout your career as well, or certainly in the early part of your career. It’s a great way of learning or watching. This is why these Chinese players coming through. They’ve watched Steven Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan playing, and they absorb everything that they’re watching, and it helps them to become as successful as they are doing.

Sean O’Neill: Yeah, I found that when my grandma passed away, there was so much knowledge lost, wisdom passed down through words, but there was an element of so much had been lost. And soon after that, I started journaling. And the best way I found is, although I wrote notes down, I used to email myself one liners, quick story, and I put it in my archive. I wouldn’t try and do loads in one day. And over, over a long period of time.

Now, I have encaptured all my living memories, right, but I also have the date and time that I said it or thought it, and who I was with. And that’s now created the material for as I move forward with my, my books, I’ve got. I’ve got children’s books about the farm. I’ve got lots of books that will be released over the next coming years, say, maybe sooner.

And I found that the best way is that learning. We’re in a place now where there’s so much information fired at us within one day. So it’s hard to embrace. But I find if you don’t capture that moment, you won’t maybe understand at that moment what you’re capturing, but you will start looking at the things you’re capturing, starts to tell a story. And that story of where you, that you’re capturing will form your future.

And along that way, if you are able to capture the wisdom and advice, and that means that you must appreciate the person that’s in front of you, you must be there, you must be digesting it. And I find that I’ve always, I don’t know, sometimes you may saw me on my phone, but I’m making sure I better not miss what Dennis just told me. And it’s become well known now. You know, the jokes are with the people that know me very well. Sean’s on his phone, but he’s not texting or emailing anyone else. He’s making notes on what’s going on here.

And that, for me, has found the best way to capture. So I don’t want to lose any lessons in my life now. And that will form the basis of, hopefully it will give me the guide for the future as well.

Dennis Taylor: What a great bit of advice that is, emailing yourself all little things that. I’m the only time I’ve ever really done that and I did it for my wife. Really.

Sean O’Neill: You mailed me an invoice last week.

Dennis Taylor: Oh, yeah. Don’t forget them. But I went. I was on the real Marigold Hotel, which was a fantastic BBC documentary where eight of us went off to India to see what would be like to retire there.

Sean O’Neill: Yeah.

Dennis Taylor: My wife said to me, just make a note of what you. Because you can watch the series back again. But she said, just make a note of what happens. And I’ve never ever done that before, but I’ve got all the notes of what happened on the first day we went off here and you don’t get that when you watch the series back again. So a great bit of advice there.

I wish I had done that a lot more because if you’re going to write a book, it’s all there, isn’t it? But, yeah, that series. Just going back to that. The reason I loved it so much was they finished up taking me to where the game of snooker originated.

Sean O’Neill: Was there a snooker table there?

Dennis Taylor: There was. It was in India. And I knew it was 1875 that a Neville Chamberlain invented the game in Uttamundi, in the Ooty club. It’s a hill station 6000ft up. It’s in. I’m trying to think of the province it’s in, but Uttamundi people don’t know where it is and there’s a population of about 70,000 and they’ve got the club there where the game originated. It’s quite an exclusive club. They’ve got Indian members from all around the world.

And we met the secretary, who looked like a sixties pop star, the way he was dressed. A lovely man called. Was it Steve? And he was called now. And Paul Nicholas was with me, just good friends, a huge star on television back in the eighties with Paul. And we arrived at this club and they weren’t going to allow. They were going to allow me in to play on the table. But they weren’t going to allow the BBC to film. The old president said, no, they’re not.

But anyway, they agreed to let us go in and film. And it was fascinating because the room was as it was in 1875, but obviously the table was recovered and everything. But that is where the first game of snooker and the rules were written to play snooker. And I got to play on that table and it was quite emotional to be in a room where they invented snooker. It was just incredible.

And the rest of the four weeks in India was fantastic. But that was the icing on the cake to get to where the game originated and play on the actual table. The queues, they had a queue there that was over 100 years old and it was nearly taller than me. And I used that cue, I wanted this to use.

Sean O’Neill: But, yeah, so you’ve gone back 109 miles, a correct 170 years then from. And now you’re at the modern game and there’s talk for inclusivity and pundits and, you know, where do you stand with all of that?

Dennis Taylor: Well, you see, the commentary, people thought I started commentating when I retired. I was thrown in at the deep end at the UK championship one year. Someone had taken ill and they said, would you like to have a go at the commentary? You know, we need somebody in there. I said, I’ll have a go. And who did they put me next to? Ted Low, the voice of snooker. He’ll always be the voice of snooker for me. Whispering, Ted Low, I’m sitting next to him.

And that was my introduction into the commentary box and it always fascinated me, and I’ve always sort of. Even back in the early stages, I’ve always tried to sit there in the commentary box and commentate as if you were sitting in somebody’s lounge with them, sitting on the settee with them and telling them what’s happening.

And back in the early days, we didn’t have much to say. You sat there and, you know, the producer would come on, just let the boys play and Ted and, you know, you’d sit back in your chair and watch the game and then you’d pick the microphone up. But now it’s like all sports, the want.

Sean O’Neill: It’s like a bit of the talking. It’s like the changing of the guard.

Dennis Taylor: Yeah, yeah. And now the thing that I don’t like about, but people love it, they’ve got the headsets when they go into the arena because they used to listen to the commentary at home. Now it’s not good for us because we are commentating for the people at home. So if you’ve got a little funny line, say there’s a safety battle, you’ve got a little funny line you want to get on. You’ve got to be careful because if the people, the audience start laughing and the players will think what’s going on? So you’ve got to be very careful.

But I’ve always loved the commentary and even to this day, I still love it going in there. Never, never get fed up sitting in the commentary box and there’s new players coming through. And I was the first one to have a go at the white lines when they introduced them onto the table. You know, we’re getting out of a snooker. You could put the lines up or you could put a circle up and people seemed to like that. Some people didn’t like it.

But I remember one woman sent a letter in and she said, can you tell Dennis Taylor to stop putting those white lines up on the table? My two year old daughter keeps going over and trying to wipe them off. So, yeah, and it’s great to have new commentators coming through, but they were talking about, as they do with a lot of, a lot of sports these days, they’re letting the people that are getting a little bit older go.

Now you’re sitting behind a microphone. As long as you’re not talking any dribble, you’re still able to comment. And I can read the game, even these modern day and the young Chinese, I know exactly what shot they’re going to play. So it’s great to bring new people into the commentary box and younger people into the commentary box.

But I think the people, when we do the dinners and you mention about the commentary and you mention people like John Virgo and mysterious that are still commentating, they said, well, they’ve got to keep you on. Bring the new ones through, working with you. But, you know, there’s a possibility that might, they might suddenly, you know.

Sean O’Neill: It would be a shame for them not to experience what it’s like to be with you and take on part of the humor and just obviously evolve. Like supply and demand proves a lot. And every time I’m on the phone to you, you’re in a car traveling to somewhere for, because you people want to watch your trick shots. Listen to you. You’ve been hired to go here, there and everywhere. You’re probably as busy now as you have been for a long time.

Dennis Taylor: I love the shows. I mean, you know, to do the black, we call it the blackball final at the theaters with John Virgo with us. I mean, Steve, myself and John Virgo. We’ve had some unbelievable shows, and then they’ve got. Now I got the clash of the Titans, Stephen Henry, Steve Davis with me doing the trick shots and comparing, and we’ve even started. We did three shows with five of us. The darling of Dublin, Ken daughter, myself, John Parrott and Steve Davis.

And the first half of the show, well, John will get people out to do a few tricks, you know, trick shots, which is great. Then we have an Ireland versus England at snooker, and if it’s one frame all, we have a blackball shootout. And who did they put in to do the blackball shootout? Steve and myself. And that’s the first half of the show.

And then we all sit on the stage and the audience, we do our own little bit and then the audience can fire questions at us. And we have had so much fun. And the people. We went to the crucible, a thousand people turned up. So we’re hopefully going to do more of those. And listen, it keeps you young. And as I say, hopefully, there’s no word that we’re not going to be commentating. John. John Virgil myself, is still there in the commentary box, and we look forward to commentating with the younger people that they’re going to bring through. Hopefully.

Sean O’Neill: So is there signs that the money in snooker will continue and grow?

Dennis Taylor: Well, it will. I mean, Barry Hearn was always saying he’d love to get the world championship. Your first prize to be a million pounds. It’s half a million pounds…

Sean O’Neill: Is the reason why not. Is there not a big hoop to have that figure?

Dennis Taylor: It’s getting the correct sponsorship in, I suppose. I mean, you could increase the number of people that watch it, but that would be a shame to go from the crucible. It holds about 970 people. They’ve got a big tournament in the Middle East now where the prize money’s as good as the world championship.

So I think it’s growing all the time and the game’s growing around the world. It’s just the UK. I’m a bit concerned about the UK and the youngsters coming through. You’ve got to keep the facilities to bring these youngsters through, otherwise the Chinese players will overtake them by a margin. There is a few good young players coming through, but it’s important that grassroots level, because there’s plenty of coaches around, world snooker coaches, to get the UK youngsters playing to, you know, to bring new talent through. But the game’s healthy.

Sean O’Neill: Terry Griffiths had set up bless him.

Dennis Taylor: Terry’s not very well at the moment. He’s got dementia, as Terry did a lot. He was, he was probably the main coach.

Sean O’Neill: Terry coached me for a period of time.

Dennis Taylor: Terry learned his craft from Jack Karnehm. Who was it? Not Jack, Frank. Where’d he get the name Jack from Frank Karnehm, who was from Blackpool and was still coaching into his eighties. And he was the one that coached all the world champions at one stage. Terry was one of them then you’d Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Parrott. I did a little bit with Frank and Terry carried that on and then added a little bit of the positive thinking. Terry would read up on the books on positive thinking and add that to him.

Sean O’Neill: He was way ahead of his game, wasn’t he, when he….

Dennis Taylor: I didn’t realize Terry….

Sean O’Neill: Had spent a bit of time with Terry. I remember it’s like meeting your, your heroes in a way. And you and Terry were huge in the game back then and sort of retired, but still, still iconic. And I went to South Wales and I remember he picked me up in his seven series BMW and I sat and I just remember feeling the leather in the seats and thinking, wow. And he took me into his match room and I just. The sound was different. Not a single table. And I just thought, I just want a piece of this or I want it, you know? And I remember that day like it was yesterday.

Dennis Taylor: He had the great saying, didn’t he, when he got it? Might have been. Yeah, it might have been the year he beat me, actually, and he won the semi-final. And he said to David vine, he said, I’m in the final now, you know, in his lovely welsh accent.

Sean O’Neill: Terry. Terry told me, I say — Terry taught me something and it’s always years later. I didn’t write this one down, but I remembered it. It was the first really positive thinking advice I was given from someone that you looked up to. And he said, no matter what day it is or no matter who you meet, he says if. Even if you meet someone that’s going to bring you down, he said, listen to them, tell them why. Listen to all the reasons why the weather’s no good, why there’s no money, how the government doesn’t give them enough, and just, just listen and just agree, don’t argue. And he said, when you leave them, punch the f****** air.

And said, thank God I’m not like that. And I have repeated that hundreds of times and thought, it’s. Everything is a yes. Not, that was a 15 minutes wasted. I could have been at the snooker club. He said that was, you know, he said, that’s time well spent, he says, because they’re the people that will give you the reasons why not.

And he says, you know the reasons why, and, you know, you see it all now, but when you sit someone in the flesh, when you sit with someone in the flesh and something that really hits home, and that’s where every moment of the day, I sort of say, that’s great. Even when it’s not great. I just think I’ve experienced something to. To remind me why the path I’m on is the right path, bless him.

Dennis Taylor: As I say, he’s pretty poorly at the moment. But, yeah, when we used to go abroad, he was the one that would do the bit of coaching. And of course, Terry did the commentary as well, with that lovely welsh accent. Just going back to the comedy again, we can’t let Ted low few of his classics. Everybody remembers the one where he said, Fred Davis’s snookered on the yellow.

For those of you watching in black and white, the yellow is a color directly behind the blue. That was Ted, but his best, you know, went out live and dear old Fred Davis was playing and we talked, touched on about switching hands. There was only Fred and myself that used to switch hands back in those days. But he had an awkward shot.

Fred tried to reach it with his right hand, threw his leg over the corner of the table, couldn’t reach it, slipped off the table, switched hands, and Ted low said, well, you know, Fred Davis is 67 years of age now. He’s a little bit too old to get his leg over, instead of leaving it carried on, and said he prefers to use his left hand instead. You don’t get them much better than that. Although who was the one come out with a lovely one? Mike Hallett. Well, you would have known Mike, who should have won the masters, what was he, eight, one up against Stephen Henry.

Sean O’Neill: I watched that.

Dennis Taylor: If he had won that masters, who knows what he would have won? But he commentated when sky used to show snooker, and it was when the misrule, the controversial misrule came out. It was Steve Davis playing Stephen Henry, and he had Stephen and all sorts of problems, and the referee fouled. And a miss. Four and a miss. Seven and a miss. Mike picked the microphone up. He says, well, at the moment, he said, Steve Davis is jumping all over Stephen Henry’s misses.

You know, when Barry Hearn signed me, God, he used to travel everywhere with us and he never seemed to suffer from jet lag. Barry. But before he got into the boxing and that. He was always with us. And then, of course, he got us to do the Chas and Dave, which everybody remembers. I mean, we got to number five or number six in the top 20 with snooker Loopy. We spent two days at the match room in Romford with Chas and Dave. Absolutely fantastic. A couple of days. They were great characters.

And the song, as I say, was so successful. We did a follow up to it and I remember performing it at the Hippodrome theatre. We did it. We did a live thing and we all. And they did a video of it. It was called the Romford Rap and thankfully, it only got to number 95 in the chart and that was the end of the recording career. But the film for snooker Loopy was funny.

But then we go to the Hippodrome in London to record this, and we all had to have the colors of the balls, the suits, so, of course, Jimmy White had a white suit, I had a green suit. Terry Griffiths, poor Terry had to wear a pink suit and all different colors. And what was it? Oh, Steve, of course, he wore the black suit, so he just went out in his normal gear.

But to do things like that and match room, we were endorsing aftershave, all sorts of things, you know, we were sponsoring. So it was a great period, a great five years with. With Barry and the matchroom boys. And then I finished with Barry and went off to Ian Doyle and Stephen Hendry’s team. He had at the time, he had Joe Johnston, John Parrott, quite a few players. But Barry Hearn, back running the game again, did a lot to get. The game was sort of going nowhere. They didn’t have the right people running the game.

And then suddenly Barry came back in and he’d been involved in the eighties, so the players had about five or six tournaments to play, and now they can pick and choose the tournaments all over the world.

Sean O’Neill: There’s a stat that three and five premiership football players go bankrupt and a lot of other successful sporting people do go bankrupt. Is there any investment advice or any way that you have managed to dodge that bullet and keep enough money in your pocket? Was it earnings that kept going? Did you make some right decision? Did you learn along the way? Had you the right people around you?

Dennis Taylor: Well, you’ve got to learn along the way and you’ve got to try and invest a bit of money and pensions. I mean, a lot of modern. I mean, it’s different nowadays, but back then, a lot of sports people just earned their money and spent their money. They tended to forget that your tax man is going to be after some of it and then you’ve got to put some away for when you’re going to need it in your old age pension.

You know, it’s amazing the number of sports people back then that never even thought of getting involved in pension schemes and that, and didn’t have the correct advice. I think it doesn’t apply now to sports people nowadays. It doesn’t apply boxers 30 years ago and that. How many boxers earned millions and we’re all skint.

But a few of the snooker lads, they had their problems with not putting stuff away for their future. But it’s all done. That’s why people like yourself to help. Well, in business or anything, just to help people to not be silly with their money, because it’s a great deal of people that seem to be able to squander money quite.

Sean O’Neill: And then I think there’s a misconception with me that I make sensible with my money. I’m absolutely not. I have the ability to know how to make money, but how I’ve managed to sort of get to where I am now. I also lost it all when the recession came, 2008. But I. Yeah, but that was a recession.

Dennis Taylor: You weren’t. You weren’t wasting it, were you? Did you?

Sean O’Neill: I spent a few quid as well. I can’t just blame everybody else. I think I did spend. But what I. What — what’s helped me is I’ve. I’m surrounded by people that the checks and balances of, you know, what I do with my, my life, my businesses. There’s good advice, there’s people I can lean on. And I guess I’ve learned along the way, so I haven’t.

And it’s not being modest, I haven’t achieved what I’ve achieved by doing it on my own, which is obvious in one way, but when you do say it, there’s a team of people around me and that team, we all protect each other and then our, my partners, my advisors, my friends, my other successful people, and not just financially successful, just enjoying life. Our network of companies now manage and look after and take care of a lot of other people.

Dennis Taylor: Well, you’ve spread it. You’ve spread around. Another recession wouldn’t necessarily cause you.

Sean O’Neill: I hope another recession comes when it comes financial terms. But what I wouldn’t like to see is I don’t like to see people suffer. Although I suffered another recession, whatever way it comes, will probably benefit me financially. However, you don’t wish it on other people. But if it does happen. We’re well prepared to take advantage of that.

But the purpose of this conversation is to — For anyone out there just to know that, it’s easy to say you need the right advice, but you need to take time to get to know the people. You need to take time to make the decision. You can’t wait too long, but you can’t act too hastily as well.

Dennis Taylor: It’s letting the people know that they’re not the advice they’re getting. They’re not just going to pay a lot of money to someone and they’re not sure whether they’re going to get the correct advice. It’s explaining to people exactly what I would say.

Sean O’Neill: I think Warren Buffett has said this, and he’s probably someone you should listen to. But if someone is giving you advice and they are getting rewarded heavily on fees, not heavily on the results that you’re going to achieve, if they’re getting rewarded heavily on the fees, they’re going to get irrelevant to what’s going to happen in your pocket. There’s a very good chance they’re not the right people for you because it’s human nature to be incentivized by the fees that you are getting, which they’ve clamped on.

Dennis Taylor: Really. When you think back to the seventies, eighties, pension schemes, people were putting people in pension schemes. The commissions they were getting out of.

Sean O’Neill: It was astronomical even now, look, you can’t knock it. Everyone’s got their — But if you take out insurances now, the first year or two of the insurances go to the broker. But anyway, look, there’s nothing, anything wrong with the individual that chooses their path, but it’s one sort of red flag if maybe, say, if wherever your money is going and the person advising you is going to get huge fees from the advice, if they get huge fees because they’ve helped you make money, absolutely fine.

That’s, you know, like everybody needs to, you know, gain from whatever you do. And if that was the case, you’d find that it’s. It’s more that it’s more a shared risk reward, if that would be the best way. It’s not just it’s all on one side. You have to make sure that everybody wins.

Dennis Taylor: Yeah, but at least people are being told what they’re going to have to pay or what they’re paying. So it’s making sure that you get the right advisor and that’s what it’s all about.

Sean O’Neill: The future of snooker, how do you think it’s going to be as the decades goes past? And do you think it’ll ever be as big as it was?

Dennis Taylor: Well, all you’ve got to do is look at the crowds. It was in North Wales there, packed houses at all the shows, and that’s with some of the top players not being there. I think the game’s healthy. People tend to make the comparison.

And when we do the question and answers with all the players there, Steve Davis, myself, John Parrott, Ken Doherty and Jimmy White, they would say, well, the games, we haven’t got the characters in the game there was back in the eighties, but that applies to all sports. You know, you don’t have any John McEnroe’s coming through in tennis or Elie Nastas or Elite Rovinos in golf, but there’ll always be somebody that will come through that keeps the game at the top.

At the moment, it’s Ronnie or Sullivan that’s keeping the game. You would have to say, people say, what happens when Ronnie goes? There’ll always be somebody else who will come through. The game’s very healthy, really. You’re never going to get the viewing figures that you had back for most sports back in the eighties, because there’s so much choice now.

And with social media, you’re not never going to get. If you get two or 3 million watching anything now, that’s — The figures are very, very good, but overall, you just got to look at and you’re a sport. Fair play to them. They’ve done a terrific job around Europe with snooker. They do a tournament in Germany. Going back, the only place was you’d go and play an exhibition in Germany for the expats back in the eighties.

Nowadays they do a tournament, two and a half thousand people will get into a venue to watch snooker. So snooker is. It’s one of those games, as you know, once you start watching it, you can get hooked on it and the game is very healthy at the moment. And as long as the young players keep coming through and playing the exciting snooker that they’re doing.

Although, having said that, people don’t just want to watch hundred breaks all the time. They did a survey one year, did they prefer the tactical side of the game? And it was slightly more like to see a close match with a bit of tactical play. Great to see the big breaks.

Sean O’Neill: Almost, almost misses.

Dennis Taylor: Yeah. I mean, listen, Ronnie, at times he’ll go on a run there. I’ve seen him win a match in the Masters in under an hour, six nil. I mean, that can happen, but people want to see. There’s nothing better than sitting late night watching a game of snooker that goes down to the last few balls, that gets everybody’s enthusiasm going. So it’s in pretty good shape at the moment, and let’s hope it continues that way.

Sean O’Neill: Well, one thing I think is in good shape for the people that are outside the top 16 or even the top 32, to get much experience in front of a crowd that if you were 32 in the world 40 years ago, you might not have got in and had that experience of crowd. So you understand how maybe the people that aren’t going to get to the top of the game, they’re still so close because they have that. Have that excitement and have the crowd behind them.

Dennis Taylor: Just exactly what you said there. We always used to talk about a new player coming through to Sheffield, the crucible nerves. These lads are playing in so many tournaments nowadays. They get through to the crucible. It doesn’t apply the way it used to. Do you know, it used to be Ormont Crucible for the very first time. They don’t think that way.

And you see, the standard that they play at when they get to the crucible is brilliant. And the standard, the top 64 in the world is unbelievable. How many of them are playing to a very high standard. And that’s why the game is very, very healthy at the moment. And any tournament you watch, there’s so many different people can win.

But we still. I remember years ago, people were saying, oh, you gotta be in your twenties to win a ranking event. And I used to have a go at the press, you know, I’d say, what are you talking about, in the twenties? You know, you don’t learn enough.

I mean, Ray Reid and John Spencer were at their peak in their early forties, and they used to laugh at this sort of thing. Now, look at the winners. Look at your John Higgins, your mark Williams, your Ronnie O’Sullivans. They’re 48 years of age, okay, they’re exceptional. But it’s still. It’s not always a young man’s game. You can still carry on winning into your forties, and as I say, Ronnie might carry on winning world championships in his fifties. So overall, the game is in great shape. You’ve got the youngsters coming through and you’ve got the established players. And that’s the other thing. You can’t beat seeing an up and coming player playing against one of the top players to see how they can cope with them.

Sean O’Neill: I would personally like to thank you. Hard to believe that almost 40 years ago, I sat and watched the TV screen and I’m able to sit here, call you a good friend, somebody who’s a role model for 19 million plus people out there. You’re an amazing ambassador for the game. You have shown resilience, you have worked hard, you deserve everything that you ever have achieved in life. And at 75, you’re still out there enjoying yourself, working hard, being a role model. And I think that there’s so many people out there will agree exactly what I have to say.

Thank you for coming here today. It’s been a pleasure and I’m just honored.

Dennis Taylor: Well, listen, Sean, listen, we’ve known each other for quite a few years and, you know, it’s great to come back and be able to do this with you, sit and chat with you and see how you’ve gone from sort of retiring from snooker at a very young age and to see how successful you’ve become. So great pleasure to sit here in this wonderful city of Liverpool. My wife Louise is from Liverpool, so it means a lot to me.

So thank you very much and I enjoyed the chat tremendously!