Joe Johnson remains to be taking snooker very severely 37 years on from his crowning second (Picture: Getty Images)Nearly 20 years after his skilled profession ended, and coming as much as 40 since his Crucible masterpiece, Joe Johnson remains to be working exhausting at his sport and loving the problem as a lot as ever.
The 71-year-old will without end be an iconic determine in snooker because of his World Championship win in 1986 having by no means beforehand gained a match on the Crucible.
The greatest match within the sport proved to be his solely rating title, and whereas he won’t be altering that document in his eighth decade, he’s nonetheless competing.
The Yorkshireman can be taking part in at The 900 from 25 September, the one-frame occasion performed below a shot-clock which he had a crack at in its first version final yr and completely loved.
‘I performed alright truly,’ Johnson advised Metro.co.uk of his first efforts in The 900. ‘I made an amazing clearance to win the primary match so I used to be overjoyed actually.
‘It fits me all the way down to the bottom, these 20 seconds [on the shot clock] . That was one among my failings after I was on the tour, folks used to gradual me down and it used to get to me abit. You can’t do this on this, you’ve bought to get on with it and that fits me.’
When urged to Johnson that his trademark long-potting abilities have been nonetheless very a lot on show, he mentioned they need to be, given the quantity of labor he nonetheless places in on the desk.
‘I observe it exhausting,’ he mentioned. ‘I observe day-after-day and I observe long-potting day-after-day. It’s not so good as it was once, nevertheless it’s alright.
‘I play day-after-day besides Sundays. I love the observe. I invite folks to come back and play me for the afternoon. I’ve bought half a dozen of them that come regularly. Good amateurs who push me. I don’t play anyone who hasn’t made century breaks.
‘Monday-Friday I observe on my own beforehand after which play somebody. Saturdays I wish to preserve a full day to observe on my own.
‘I don’t observe all day. 10am-1pm and the remainder of the day, regardless of the spouse’s bought deliberate for me.’
It is an unimaginable dedication to the sport which he has put unfathomable hours into over the overwhelming majority of his life, however he wouldn’t have it another method.
‘When I first began out I’d play 10 and even 12 hours a day,’ he mentioned. ‘Start at 10 within the morning, come out at 11 at night time, simply play all day lengthy, so I used to be sure to get higher.
‘I began that at about 14. I used to go to the native billiard corridor at weekends, I used to be in school within the week, however my mum and pa had a liberal membership, so I used to sneak in there when all of the members had gone and I used to get observe there as properly.
Johnson continues to be a really acquainted face on the membership he performs in in Bradford (Picture: Getty Images)‘I went on to work on the gasoline board however got here off that in 1979 and after that I performed 7 or 8 hours a day then, steady.
‘I by no means actually practiced all day. I performed all day, perhaps for a little bit bit of cash, so it stored me concerned. I didn’t actually observe all that a lot, I want I’d practiced then like I do now. A bit like Jimmy White now. He nonetheless performs properly, he nonetheless makes maximums. As do I, from time to time.’
Luca Brecel sprung an enormous shock to assert the World Championship this yr having by no means gained a match on the Crucible earlier than, doing it in buccaneering and flamboyant model.
Unsurprisingly it reminded many individuals of Johnson’s success, together with the person himself, who downed some very huge names alongside the way in which, identical to Brecel.
‘Yeah it did,’ mentioned Joe. ‘It was very very like it. I’d by no means gained a match on the Crucible.
‘I’d by no means overwhelmed [Terry] Griffiths in my profession. He’d overwhelmed me within the Egnlsih Amataur last, UK Championship twice, he bought to me, he was a gradual participant however actually good with it. It was very tough to play in opposition to him, particularly when you have been like me and needed to get on with issues. He had my quantity, in order that was my huge win within the quarter-finals.
‘I’d at all times had fairly good outcomes in opposition to Tony Knowles and I’d by no means misplaced to Steve Davis as an beginner, so I had no fears over Davis.’
Joe Johnson on the peak of his profession after beating Steve Davis on the Crucible (Picture: Getty Images)Brecel beat the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams on his approach to establishing a last with Mark Selby, and Johnson admits that he didn’t see the upset coming even thought he’d sprung the same shock all these years in the past.
‘No, nobody thought he’d win, and I didn’t both,’ Joe mentioned of Luca. ‘Nobody gave me an opportunity both, completely not. Not even me mum and pa, it was a type of. Nobody anticipated me to win, I don’t assume I anticipated to win however he didn’t have that worry that he had over lots of gamers.
‘I believe Luca’s greatest win was in opposition to Si Jiahui, that was unimaginable. It was good to beat Ronnie from 10-6 down however to win from 14-5 down within the semi-finals, and being outplayed I’d add, what he discovered from someplace I don’t know.
‘He’s an inspirational participant quite a bit like what I was. I felt like if I bought on high of someone it was exhausting for them to get free. Luca’s such a gifted participant.’
Johnson works at Eurosport with the person Brecel downed within the Crucible quarter-finals, O’Sullivan, and the Rocket has had some form phrases for the veteran of late.
‘Since YouTube has come out I’ve watched lots of outdated movies,’ O’Sullivan mentioned on BBC Radio 2 after this yr’s World Championship.
‘I didn’t realise how good a participant he was. He didn’t win the rest aside from the World Championship, however then made the ultimate the subsequent yr.
‘I mentioned to him: “Joe, you have been a correct participant”. And he went: “actually?”. I mentioned “yeah”. Because I name folks correct snooker gamers or they’re not.’
On the Rocket and his feedback, Joe mentioned: ‘The best participant ever isn’t he so it’s a pleasure to work with him, it truly is.
‘He’s mentioned some great issues about me simply after the World Championship which was large, he didn’t must say that. He did an interview and bigged me up, when you like.
‘He mentioned it was his favorite last, which I discover unimaginable, nevertheless it was actually my favorite last.’
Johnson might have been blown away by Brecel and his attacking brilliance in Sheffield this yr, however he thinks the Bullet has so as to add extra strings to his bow to stay on the high. Just because the Rocket has accomplished.
‘I don’t assume that’s sustainable truly,’ Johnson mentioned of Brecel’s technique of all-out-attack. ‘Ronnie himself was like that however he needed to change to turn out to be Ronnie O’Sullivan, the whole participant.
‘I believe Luca’s bought that skill however he hasn’t bought the consistency that Ronnie O’Sullivan’s bought. I’m certain he’ll get it as a result of he’s such an amazing participant.’
Johnson can be hoping his personal swashbuckling model can take him to glory in The 900 when he performs in Group Two of this yr’s occasion, from 25-27 September.
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