John Virgo

Name: John Virgo

DOB: March 3rd, 1946

Nationality: English

Turned Pro: 1976

Highest Ranking: #10 (1979/1980)

Highest Break: Unknown

Career Highlights: 1979 UK Champion, 1980 Pontin’s Professional Champion, 1962 National U-16 Champion, 1965 National U-19 Champion



Playing Career

John first began to play snooker at the age of 15 and immediately impressed, taking the British Under-16’s Championship in 1962/3 just four months later. Having added the Under-19’s equivalent to his CV just a couple of years later, John continued to perform to develop his game until 1976 when he took the decision to turn professional.

The highlight of his debut campaign came towards the end as he managed to qualify to play in the final stages of the World Championship at the Crucible for the first time with victories over Roy Andrewartha (11-1) and John Dunning (11-6). Though he was to bow out in the first round, he put up a good fight against eventual champion John Spencer in losing 13-9 and did enough to enter the rankings at number 18.

Though he failed to qualify again the following year, losing out to Fred Davis in the qualifying rounds, in 1979 he managed to come through against Maurice Parkin and then Willie Thorne in a dramatic final frame finish to make it back to the Crucible. This time he managed to go on a terrific run to the semi-finals with wins over Canadian duo Cliff Thorburn and Bill Werbenuik before falling to Taylor 19-12. Again though he had well enough to move up the rankings and up inside the top 16 for the first time at number 10.

UK Glory

The pinnacle of John’s career however was to come later that year as he went all the way to glory in the UK Championship at the Guildhall in Preston. Having beaten Tony Meo, Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor to reach the final where he would meet Welshman Terry Griffiths. Though he was docked two frames at the start of the final session due to a mix-up with the start time, John came through in brilliant style to win 14-13 and take the biggest title of his career.

Following this point although he rarely threatened to repeat this success, he did manage to play until the 1993/4 season and in total managed to complete seven seasons in the top 16, exiting for the last time in 1991.

Television Work

Though John had already earned a reputation for his trick shots and impressions beforehand, it was not until he took part in an exhibition at the Crucible in 1982 following an early conclusion to the semi-final between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor that he really made a name for himself. Famously impersonating the likes of Ray Reardon, Terry Griffiths, Dennis Taylor, Alex Higgins, Cliff Thorburn and Steve Davis with unerring accuracy, from then on a successful career in the media was almost guaranteed and the BBC soon invited him to work as a commentator and analyst at the major events, a role that he has maintained ever since.

During the 1990’s he famously co-presented the snooker gameshow Big Break with Jim Davidson, which at its peak managed to pull in nearly 14 million viewers.

Finally he also acts as an MC occasionally during exhibition evenings involving players such as Jimmy White.

Tournament Victories:

Non-Ranking Event wins (6)

Event Year
UK Championship 1979
Professional Snooker League Winner 1984
Pontin’s Professional 1980
National Pairs Champion 1975
National U-16’s Championship 1962
National U-19’s Championship 1965