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Ray Reardon

Name: Ray Reardon

DOB: October 8th, 1932

Birthplace: Tredegar, Wales

Pro Career: 1967-91

Highest Ranking: #1 (1976-81, 1982/3]

Highest Break:

Career Highlights: Six Times World Champion, 1976 B&H Masters Champion, Twice Pot Black winner, 1982 Professional Players Tournament Winner, Twice World Cup Winner (with Wales), 1983 Yamaha International Champion, Twice Welsh Professional Champion.

In Short

Known by the nickname of ‘Dracula’ during his 1970’s heyday, Welsh legend Ray Reardon remains one of the most successful players ever to have played the game and with his exceptional tactical nous and temperament, was a match for anyone in his era.

Unfortunately for Ray his haul of six world titles is sometimes overlooked when compared to the feats of Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry but it is not his fault that his peak coincided with a bad time for the sport as a whole. You only have to look at his record during the 1960’s and 1970’s to see that he was a cracking player and more often than not he was able to see off what was put in front of him.

Following his playing career he has maintained a presence in the game, notably assisting Ronnie O’Sullivan during the 2004 World Championship.

Amateur Career

Ray first picked up a cue at the age of eight, though as was the case with many players of his generation it was billiards that was to take up much of his time initially. Eventually though snooker began to take over and in 1950 he made the final of the Welsh Amateur Championship for the first of what would be six successive years as he won the title on each occasion.

In 1956 however Ray and his family were forced to relocate to Staffordshire in pursuit of work and though he could still compete, just in the English Amateur Championship, it was to take him another eight years to finally capture the title, which he did with a win over a man who would become arguably his greatest rival, John Spencer. A year later he elected to turn professional and begin what was to prove a remarkable career.

Going Pro

Turning professional towards the end of 1967, Ray entered the World Championship for the first time in 1969 as after a spell in the doldrums, the tournament reverted to the knock-out format recognisable today. Entering the tournament at the quarter-final stage however, he was to suffer an agonising 25-24 defeat to seven-times champion Fred Davis and as old rival Spencer went on to take the title, he would have to wait another year for his first big chance.

There in 1970 however things were to really fall into place for Reardon as following a revenge win over Davis and then victory over defending champion Spencer (who he had recently defeated to take the Pot Black trophy for good measure), he overcame John Pulman 37-33 to take his first World Championship title.

Dominance

As is typically the case with first-time world champions, Ray’s title defence in 1972 did not go to plan as he lost out heavily to that man Spencer before a quarter-final defeat to Rex Williams the following year put paid to his chances again.

Despite the manner of these two defeats, they were ultimately to prove nothing more than a blip however as in 1973 he took his second world crown with victory over Australian Eddie Charlton and with subsequent final victories over Graham Miles, Charlton again and Alex Higgins, was not to lose again in the tournament until the 1977 event at the Crucible Theatre.

When defeat eventually came it was perhaps no surprise that it was to come at the hands of John Spencer who was to go on to take his third and final World Championship title. He was not to be denied a sixth and final world title though as he took victory at the Crucible the following year with a 25-18 win over Perrie Mans.

Gradual decline

From here although Reardon was to remain in the game for another 14 years, age and the demise of his trusty cue were beginning to cause him serious problems. During 1982/3 he enjoyed something of an indian summer as he reached the World Championship final once again in 1982 but as it turned out he was to come unstuck against Alex Higgins in the final as the popular Northern Irishman took his second title.

The final pieces of silverware of his career were to come at the 1982 Professional Player’s Tournament and the 1983 Yamaha International Masters but from here it was a downhill spiral and eventually he hung up his cue for good following a 10-5 defeat to Jason Prince in the 1991 World Championship qualifiers.

Tournament Victories:

Ranking Events (5)

Event Year
World Championship 1974-6, 1978
Professional Players Tournament 1982

Non-Ranking Event wins (10)

Event Year
World Championship 1970, 1973
B&H Masters 1976
Yamaha International Masters 1983
Pot Black Trophy 1969, 1979
World Cup (with Wales) 1979-80
Welsh Professional Championship 1981, 1983
  • Jude Cooney

    Ray was a fantastic player. Along with Ronnie O’ Sullivan and Alex Higgins I would say these were the best three players ever to play the game. Of course you can’t discount Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins and John Spencer either. But Ray was in his mid thirties when he turned pro and what a record he has? One of the finest cueists I’ve ever seen. He was the reason I took up the game myself. Never did any good at the game but, we can’t all be Ray Reardons!!

    Would love to see Ray play again sometime?

    I thought he was unlucky to lose Pot Black 83 as he played the best in that tournament.

    He played brilliantly in 82/83 despite the fact he was in His fifties. A real Jack Nicklaus in the Game of Snooker.

    Thank you Ray for all you have done to make this game great!

  • Nige

    Nice article on the great man Matt, my all time favourite player, however it was actually March 1991 when he retired. I saw his last match – a world championship qualifier against Jason Prince in Preston that he lost 10-5.

  • matt2745

    Thanks Nige, will amend that.

    Why was he your all-time favourite out of interest?

  • Nige

    Cheers Matt. I got into snooker in early 1979 – he was world champion then, and his style of play I saw as the right way – perfect mix of defence and counter attack. He also had imperious presence around the table, yet was able to inject humour at tense moments and most admirably, smile in the face of adversity. He was the consummate professional. Saw him play 5 times at the Crucible between 1980-87, and even though it was time to call it quits in 1991, was gutted to see the end of his career. I’ve been playing snooker since 1979, and having won tournaments eg Derbyshire Under 16’s in 1986 and Hull Championship in 2002 (your home city Matt!), his approach has been a great influence on my game. I believe that if he was at his peak today, he’d be in the World’s top 3.

  • Jude Cooney

    Ray Reardon was probably the best snooker player apart from Ronnie O’Sullivan that ever played the game. He was in his thirties when he turned pro and just think of what he achieved!

    Fantastic player and the right man to have coached Ronnie O Sullivan.

    Would love to see him play again.

    Also, Have you any videos of Ray?

    Thanks

    Jude.

  • David Edwards

    Ray Reardon was as good, in my opinion, as any of today’s players. He possessed the ring craft to a true heavyweight champion. He had a command of the all round game and his cue ball control was exceptional, at his best better than I have seen.

    He was the first great tactician – with a greater edege than Fred Davis or even Joe. Steve Davies will happily admit that Reardon was his initial inspiration. Spencer was good in bursts, Higgins brilliant at times, Charlton steady but never quite there: Reardon had sustainability. Check out is cue action, particularly the pause; acknowledged as perhaps the most technically gifted there has ever been.

  • Jonathan Cox

    I met Ray Reardon at pontins holiday camp…I think at xmas 1980(had photo taken with him)…He was doing an exhibition there…had the car with rego 1pro i believe….I grew up in Cardiff..watching the snooker on Tv all the time…For me, Ray was my role model…..Tried to the bitter end but always had a smile and a handshake for his opponent at the end of a match..regardless of outcome…A true gentlemen of the green baize…I have been playing since i was 12 and i am now 46….Ray was my inspiration.

  • Ian Mc

    Grew up watching ray play.Some brilliant matches packed with skill and tension.One of few players who could really captivate an audience.Fantastic allround game.Heard he was amazing in exhibitions.Shows how good he was when in his late fifties became the first player to whitewash davis in a pro tournament.LEGEND !!

  • John O’Donoghue

    Ray Reardon is one of the greatest players to ever pick up a cue. When he turned professional in 1968 he was actually a wee bit past his peak.

    In his prime and up to his mid 40’s he was a deadly accurate long potter and his positional play around pink and black was as good as anyone who has played the game, and I mean anyone. In the days of thicker cloths, less responsive cushions and heavier balls, Reardon played to a level that few could match even for a short period.

    The snooker commentators of today go on about how great the standard is (and it is very good), but they are playing under far easier conditions than reardon had to put up with in his prime. Remember there were less tournaments in Rays day, so centuries were not recorded. The equivalent of regualr tournaments in the pre tv explosion were challenge matches, where centuries were not recorded, so I dont know how many Ray had in his career. However, I do know that Alex Higgins had 600 centuries (including those made in challenge matches) by the time he was 23, and that Ray made 4 in a weekend challenge match against John Spencer in 1971, winning 9-2. I have the copy of World Snooker/Snooker Scene somewhere here that shows it.

    If the Ray Reardon of 32 year old was around today he would be top 3, or faling that the would be number 1 in the world. Great all round ability (more like Hendry than Davis in so far as Ray had more flair than Steve) excellent tactical nous and the best temperament of anyone who has ever played, put Ray in top 4 of all time.

  • darren coggins

    just met ray at marks and spencers in sheffield. still his old happy self and signed an autograph for my daughter. true gentleman.