One of the most popular sport in the eighties, Snooker was a game watched by millions in its heyday, with the likes of Steve Davis, Alex Higgins, and Jimmy White becoming household names and even competing with football on the front and back pages of tabloids and on television.
Now run under the WPBSA (World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association), with events organised by World Snooker, the sport recently saw Ronnie O’Sullivan win a record-equalling seventh World title.
Two of its ‘elder’ statesmen, Anthony Hamilton and Michael Holt, both come from Nottingham, and have been competing in the game for over 50 years combined, with a mixture of success. We take a brief look at the careers of the two potters on the green baize.
Anthony Hamilton (born Nottingham, England, 29 June 1971)
Now living in London, the ‘Sheriff of Pottingham’ won his first major title in 2017, 26 years after turning professional at the age of 45. Playing in the German Masters tournament in Berlin, he defeated the top names of Mark Williams, Mark Selby, and Barry Hawkins to reach the semi-final stage. He overcame former World Champion Stuart Bingham after a late tussle, and entered only the third ranking final of his career.
After going 3-0 and 5-2 down to opponent Ali Carter, Hamilton came back with breaks of 118, 73, 74, and 70 to take the initiative, before sealing his maiden honour with a 57 break in frame 15 for a 9-6 win. He became one of the oldest players to win a snooker ranking event.
Having turned professional in 1991, his previous two finals had come in 1999 and 2002, where in the latter, he actually led Williams 8-5 in the China Open before losing in the final frame. These performances elevated him to a career high tenth in the world rankings in the 1999/2000 season.
His appearances in the World Snooker Championships has seen him reach the quarter-finals on four occasions, all in the period between 2000 and 2007. With only five seasons spent inside the game’s elite top 16 ranked players list, Hamilton has been mostly a journeyman on the circuit but has triumphed in four other non-major events, with victories in two challenge events and two events in Australia in the space of just two years in 1994 and 1995.
Prior to winning his first major title in 2017, Hamilton had struggled to climb up the rankings and admitted to playing ‘rubbish’ snooker as well as claiming to be skint.
He declined to compete in the 2020 World Championship due to the coronavirus pandemic, and also had a major eye operation to continue his playing career. Now ranked at 50, Hamilton has been mentioned as one of the best players in practice, with hardly missing a ball on the table. He can also be heard now doing some commentating on television in the sport.
Michael Holt (born Nottingham, England, 7 August 1978)
Another steady player on the snooker circuit, Holt’s claim to fame came in 2020 when he won the fast-paced Snooker Shoot Out in Watford. An event which involves all matches played over just one frame in a 30-minute duration, Holt worked his way through the long field to reach the last stages, where he beat Ben Woollaston in the quarter-final and Yan Bingtao in the semis. Facing China’s Zhou Yuelong in the decider, he compiled a fine break of 42 to easily win the frame 64 points to one, and achieve the first main ranking title of his career after 24 years.
He had actually reached the final the previous year, where he lost to a rampant Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. Having first turned professional during the 1996/97 season, Holt recently dropped off the main tour to compete in the World Seniors Championship in Sheffield. Apart from his penchant for the Shoot Out competition, Holt has also reached one other major final and a semi-final of another during his time on the circuit.
With a highest career ranking of 20 in 2013/14, Holt’s main triumphs have been in two Players’ events in 2010 and 2011, and two World Mixed Doubles championships with number one women’s star Reanne Evans in 2009 and 2015.
Despite the lack of major top titles in his career, Holt has had some notable victories in his career. He beat John Higgins in the final of the Prague Classic in 2010, and has had three victories over Ronnie O’Sullivan.
His participation in the World Championships has only seen two victories, with his defeat of former champion Neil Robertson in the first round in 2016, the best of his Crucible career.
A supporter of Nottingham Forest FC, ‘The Hitman’ is currently ranked at number 65 in the world rankings.
*Article provided by Hitesh Darji (Sports Correspondent)
*Main image @WeAreWST Anthony Hamilton the sheriff of pottingham.