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Joe Johnson The World Champion of 1986
First Name: Joe
Last Name:
 Town / Country: Bradford, England
Wakefield, Bradford & Barnsley
High Break:
141 World Championship 1992
5th ( 1987/88 )


Joe Johnson winning the world championship was the biggest shock this great event had ever witnessed but, make no mistake, he was a very good player but one whose achievements had never quite matched his talent - until then.

One of the best amateurs of his time, Joe was National Under-19 champion in 1971 and three times Yorkshire Champion. He was runner-up to Terry Griffiths in the English Amateur championship of 1978 and, with Terry being a Welshman, that qualified him as Englandís representative in that yearís World Amateur in Malta. He gave a very good account of himself reaching the final where Cliff Wilson proved too good for him. That prompted him to turn professional in 1979.

Joe got off to a slow start as a professional, never getting beyond the qualifying stages of his first four world championships. A quarter-final in the 1982 Professional Players Tournament earned him his first ranking points and that season he reached the Crucible stage of the Embassy for the first time but lost his opening match. When he again lost in the first round of the Masters at Wembley people started to say that he could not perform in front of the TV cameras. It was not until the 1985 Mercantile Credit Classic that he won his first televised march. As an amateur however he held the world record break of 140; and that was televised! In the meantime, the 1983 Professional Players Tournament, provided him with his first ranking final. 1-6 down to Tony Knowles at one stage, he fought back and only lost in the decider 9-8. Needless to say, this event was not televised. When he finally laid the TV ghost in that 1985 Mercantile Credit event he went on to reach the semi-final and ended that year in the top 16 - just.

The 1985/86 season got off to a modest start with just two quarter-finals and he arrived at the Crucible in April as a 150-1 outsider still looking for his first match win at that venue. In fact he had still not earned a single ranking point from the world championship in six attempts. This time, however, he got off to a good start with a 10-3 beating of Dave Martin and he had finally got that first win under his belt. Mike Hallett was his second round victim and then he edged past Terry Griffiths by the narrowest of margins, 13-12. He saw off Tony Knowles in the semis before facing Steve Davis, determined to regain the title he had lost to Dennis Taylor. Joe proved up to the task and ran out the winner 18-12. Joe was champion of the world.

Winning the world title seemed to have an adverse effect on his form and he had a poor season in 1986/87 not getting beyond the last 16 of any ranking event and again was given no hope of retaining his world title. In the event he surprised everyone and reached the final again. This time however, Steve Davis got his revenge by 18-14. This did however prove to Joe, as much as to everyone else, that he was good enough to win tournaments and he started the 1987/88 season by taking the Scottish Masters title. He followed this with a UK semi-final and got to the last four of the B & H Masters.

His second world final had taken him to fifth in the rankings but it proved to be down hill from then on. His form slumped and to add to his troubles he developed heart problems. By the end of the 1989/90 season, although he picked up the non-ranking European Grand Prix title, he had dropped out of the top 16, never to return. His eyesight was also giving him problems and he took a while to come to terms with playing in glasses. He did get back to the scene of his greatest triumph, the Crucible, in 1991 but did not get beyond the first round and since then his best performances have been a couple of quarter-finals in ranking events. The last few seasons have found Joe languishing in the mid fifties in the rankings but he continues to perform reasonably well and has not, so far, been in danger of losing his place on the tour although he may struggle in the 2000/01 season which he starts in 61st place with only the top 64 guaranteed a place.

In his spare time Joe sings with a band or at least he used to, claiming to have the best voice among the top players of his era. His future may well be on the embryonic seniors tour but no one can take away those wonderful memories of May 1986 when he had the world of snooker at his feet.



World Professional champion - 1986
World Professional Championship runner-up - 1987
Scottish Masters champion - 1987
European Grand Prix champion - 1989
Professional Players Tournament runner-up - 1983
World Amateur Championship runner-up - 1978
English Amateur Championship runner-up -1978
National Under-19 champion - 1971

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