SNOOKER'S UNLIKELIEST CHAMPIONS - TONY JONES
It was 'Dutch Delight' for Tony Jones when he became the shock winner of the third European Open at the Imax Centre, Rotterdam in 1991
Jones was in his eighth consecutive season as a professional. He had made steady progress in that time achieving personal bests in reaching the Quarter-Finals of the 1989 Asian Open and the 1991 British Open – the event immediately before the European Open. He began the 1990/1991 campaign in his highest ranking position just outside the World's Top 32 in 35th.
A former English Amateur Champion when defeating a certain John Parrott in the 1983 final, Jones had to overcome seven matches before pocketing the £35,000 first prize in the Netherlands.
The Englishman beat Eric Lawlor, Alain Robidoux, Darren Morgan, Steve James, Dennis Taylor and Bradley Gollan to set up a championship decider with fellow surprise package Mark Johnston-Allen.
Johnston-Allen, himself ranked 60th at the time, had caused a sensation earlier on in the week when he whitewashed World Champion Stephen Hendry 5-0 in the Last 16. Coincidentally, the Bristolian would once more beat Hendry (5-2) at the same stage in this event the following year, eventually losing in the final again but that time to Jimmy White.
The Jones/Johnston-Allen 1991 final wasn't the highest quality given there was just one break of 60 or above in the match (a 92 from MJA in the opener). Two maiden finalists under pressure in an unfamiliar environment, and with a huge prize up for grabs; they could be forgiven for the lack of big breaks.
Johnston-Allen turned a 5-4 deficit into a 7-5 advantage, but the more experienced Jones managed to chalk up the last four frames for a 9-7 win.
As a primary consequence this victory would push Jones into the World's elite Top 16 for the first time in his career the following season at 15th.
However, this would be his only year within that bracket as he could not replicate or build on his success. His ranking position slowly declined although he did remain part of the main tour until 2004.
Below is a YouTube video of Jones' 1993 World Championship Last 32 match with James Wattana where he makes a terrific counter-attacking break of 72 to take the frame.
The image at the top of the page is a screenshot from the YouTube video.
Written and published by Michael Day on the 26th November 2017