Crucible characters day nine: Tony Knowles
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.
Leading 8-1 after the first session of his first round match against defending champion Steve Davis in 1982, Tony Knowles headed for a nightclub until the early hours.
Upon his return to the Crucible the following morning, the Bolton 26-year-old duly polished off the two frames required to cause one of the sport’s biggest upsets, and his reputation as a mullet-haired lothario was born.
Knowles won two ranking titles, reached the World Championship semi-finals three times, and briefly peaked at number two in the world rankings.
But he is best remembered for a series of lurid tabloid exclusives, not least the story he sold for £25,000 prior to the 1984 Championships, in which he described himself as “the hottest pot in snooker”.
Knowles was fined £5,000 by the WPBSA for the expose, of which more would follow. Veteran commentator and author Clive Everton reported in his “Black Farce and Cue Ball Wizards” that a roaring trade developed among female followers in “I Said No to Tony Knowles” pin badges.
Knowles dropped off the main tour but remained involved in the game, serving briefly as a WPBSA board member and continuing to attempt to qualify for the Crucible well into the new century.
Knowles, who retired to run a hotel in the Lake District, also had the ‘Tony Knowles Suite’ named in his honour in Peter Kay’s comedy series ‘Phoenix Nights’.