Terry Griffiths OBE
To win your second ever professional event is something special but when that event is the world championship it is nothing short of sensational, but that is what Terry Griffiths did in 1979. A Welshman from Llanelli, Terry had been playing since he was a teenager winning the Llanelli and District championship when he was 16. He did not play seriously however until he was 25 when he entered the Welsh Amateur championship.
He went on to win that title in 1975 beginning a glittering amateur career. This was followed by a quarter final in the world championships. He went on to win the English Amateur title in 1977 and 1978 but, as a Welshman, he needed his national title to qualify for the 1978 world amateur event. He failed to do this losing out to Steve Newbury in the quarters and so he decided to turn professional having tried his hand at various jobs.
His first professional event was theUKchampionship and in the qualifying round he led Rex Williams 8-2 but lost 9-8 and so it was on to the 1979 Embassy at the Crucible. Victories over Perrie Mans and Alex Higgins were followed by a memorable semi-final against Eddie Charlton which Terry eventually won 19-17 in the early hours. When David Vine approached him for an interview he uttered those now immortal words, “I’m in the final now, you know!” Dennis Taylor was his opponent, also in his first world final and Terry won convincingly 24-16. He was world champion.
He proved this was no fluke by reaching the UK final a few months later, losing to John Virgo and then winning both the Masters at Wembley and the Irish Masters. Like many before, and since, he fell at the first hurdle in his world title defence to a certain Steve Davis. This was to be the first of many great battles between the two who had both made their debuts the previous year. 1980/81 saw them meet again in theUKsemi-final with Steve again the winner. That season he was runner up in the Masters and retained the Irish Masters also winning the Pontins Professional title. The following season Davis again beat him in the UK final but he won the Lada Classic as well as a third Irish Masters.
He finally won theUKtitle in 1982 beating Alex Higgins in the deciding frame and the next few seasons saw him reach the world quarter finals each year from 1984 to 1987. He did win the Welsh professional championship in 1985, 1986 and 1988 as well as the 1986 Belgian Classic and the Pontins professional title in ’85 and ’86 but success in ranking events eluded him although he consistently reached the latter stages.
In 1988, however, he reached his second world final only to come up againstDavisagain – and to lose again. Three Scottish Masters finals and one European Open final were the best Terry could manage over the following seasons and he began a slow slide down the rankings from a peak of third, to finally drop out of the top 16 at the end of the 1994/5 season.
He only played one more full season but did enter the 1997 world championships when, although he did qualify for the final stages at the Crucible he lost his first round match to Mark Williams but only after taking his fellow Welshman to a deciding frame.
Terry has now built up a reputation as one of the world’s finest coaches, working with the game’s greats, including Stephen Hendry, Mark Williams, Stephen Maguire, Ali Carter, Mark Allen and Marco Fu. All in all Terry Has worked with 6 World Champions in his successful coaching career.
His Welsh accent and subtle sense of humour can also be heard on the BBC’s main snooker events through the year.
In 2007 Terry Griffiths was awarded an OBE for services to his sport in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.