Belfast Telegraph

Snooker: Dennis calls time on great career

Dennis Taylor will continue to commentate for BBC after announcing his retirement.

SNOOKER legend Dennis Taylor has taken his final curtain call, retiring from the sport after his early defeat in the £400,000 Regal Scottish Open.

SNOOKER legend Dennis Taylor has taken his final curtain call, retiring from the sport after his early defeat in the £400,000 Regal Scottish Open.

A career spanning four decades came to an end with his 5-3 first-round defeat by Belgium professional Patrick Delsemme at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre yesterday.

It was not quite the way 51-year-old Taylor had hoped to bow out.

But the Ulsterman's ambition to finish with another appearance at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre - a venue that gave him his career highlight in 1985 - ended with defeat in the Embassy World Championship qualifiers earlier this month.

"I guess it was fitting that I should play my last match in Aberdeen," said the Blackburn-based former world champion. "It was up here that I did my first exhibition as a professional back in 1971.

"I will miss the buzz of playing because I've really enjoyed it over the last 30 years. But I have plenty to keep me occupied," added Taylor, who has dropped to 105th on the provisional world rankings.

"I will still be doing lots of exhibitions, I've got my commentary work with the BBC and I also do a bit of after-dinner speaking."

Popular Taylor, a director of the game's governing body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, hopes he can return to the game at a later date. But only to compete in some senior tournaments that are in the pipeline.

After his defeat Taylor, known by millions of snooker fans because of his "upside down" glasses, said: "I should have gone 2-0 up today and didn't and that was the end of it. I have no excuses and I think it is time to step aside and leave it to these whizz-kids."

Meanwhile Yorkshire veteran Joe Johnson holds seniority over the rest of the field when he begins his campaign in the Regal Scottish Open today.

The 1986 world champion is the oldest competitor left in the event and one of only two players over the age of 40 following the results on day one of the tournament.

Johnson, who will be 48 in June, was seeded to meet Taylor for a place in the last 64.

And if further evidence was needed that snooker is indeed a young mans' game then that was provided when golden oldies Tony Knowles and Willie Thorne also made early exits.

Six-times world champion Steve Davis is the only other 40-plus professional remaining in the event. And he's seeded through to round three where he will face Jason Ferguson or David McLellan.

Davis and Johnson have expressed no desires to give up the game just yet. However, spectators at the Exhibition and Conference Centre witnessed the end of an era with Taylor's demise.

He's always hinted that this would be his last season and there will be no comebacks for the wisecracking Ulsterman who had dropped to 105 on the rankings before arriving in the Granite City.

Taylor, a former Benson and Hedges Masters champion and Grand Prix winner, once reached number two in the world.

But after a career spanning four decades the four times Irish champion is hanging up his cue. "It's time to step aside and let these whizz kids have a go," said the most famous glasses wearer in sport.

Taylor's retirement was one of two major incidents on the first day of competition. Stephen Maguire, 19, became the youngest professional ever to compile a 147.

Sadly for Glaswegian Maguire it couldn't prevent his 5-4 defeat against Thailand's Phaithoon Phonbun.

Belfast Telegraph

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