Crucible characters day three: Silvino Francisco

For every Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, snooker also boasted its bit-part players: the what-might-have-beens and never-minds, who left their own small but indelible mark upon the sport.

For the duration of the postponed World Championships, the PA news agency is turning its focus on the Crucible characters who never quite made the competition’s last three days.

Silvino Francisco

North Sea cod certification
North Sea cod certification

The top-level career of South Africa’s ‘Silver Fish’ was brief and dogged by controversy.

Even Francisco’s finest moment – his 1985 British Open win over Kirk Stevens – was overshadowed by his post-match assertion that the Canadian had been “as high as a kite” on drugs during the match.

Francisco’s remarks drew the ire of the authorities, who fined him £6,000 and stripped him of ranking points, only to be forced to rescind the punishment after Stevens subsequently went public to confirm what the tabloids called his “cocaine shame”.

Francisco’s best performance at the Crucible came on his debut in 1982, when he beat Dennis Taylor and Dean Reynolds to reach the quarter-final. He never made it past the second round on any of his seven subsequent visits.

On a number of occasions, he was investigated for, and totally exonerated of, involvement in match-fixing, specifically in relation to his Masters matches against Tony Knowles and Terry Griffiths in 1986 and 1989 respectively,

In 1995, Silvino’s nephew, Peter Francisco, was banned for five years for “not conducting himself in a manner consistent with his status as a professional sportsman” after unusual betting patterns surrounding his 10-2 Crucible defeat to Jimmy White, but was found not guilty of match-fixing.

Towards the end of his career, Francisco endured financial problems and briefly worked in a friend’s fish and chip shop in Rainworth in order to make ends meet.

In 1997, Francisco served three years in prison after admitting smuggling over £100,000-worth of cannabis.