Mark Williams wants to honour Doug Mountjoy in style by reaching the Welsh Open final – and wearing one of his classic red 1970s shirts.
Snooker is still reeling from the death on Sunday of a Welsh icon and one of the game’s most recognisable characters from the boom years.
Together with Ray Reardon and Terry Griffiths, Mountjoy was part of a formidable trio from the principality that won the first two World Cups and inspired a country.
There were individual achievements winning two UK titles, the second at the age of 46 and still a record, and also a Masters success as well as reaching a Crucible final in 1981.
And three-time world champion Williams, 45, knew him better than most, practising at Mountjoy’s house as a kid, and then entertaining him at his own club in later years.
With the fashion-conscious Mountjoy’s home event poignantly starting, Williams faces a tricky opener on Tuesday in Celtic Manor against Michael White.
He said: “It would be great of one of the Welsh boys could win our home event this week and dedicate it to Doug. That would be a lovely tribute.
“I am sure Doug’s achievements will be celebrated on the BBC this week.
“And I would love to get to the final and then wear one of his famous old red, frilly shirts from the 1970s. I have already been online looking for one.
“I am not sure that is in the dress code now but surely no one would object to that.
“He was a great bloke, a really good laugh and lived in Ebbw Vale which is just a couple of miles from where I was brought up.
“He was a miner the same as my dad, and it is people like him and Ray Reardon and Terry Griffiths and all the older guys that are the reason we can earn the living we do now.
“Some of the things he did get overlooked. He won back to back ranking titles at the age of 46, that was incredible… winning one, let alone two in a row. And a 145 at the Crucible, that was rare then.
“I think he made three centuries on the trot in one event which was unheard of then, if more common now when top players do it for fun.
“I am not sure he did get the recognition he deserved during his lifetime. He actually used to coach me as well for a while, and would come to the Crucible and the World Championship with me.
“That was for a season or so, and looked at my game. He knew it inside out practising next to me and seeing me every day, and they were good chats.
“I watched their games, especially Mountjoy and Griffiths, and both had me to their houses to practice. That is how I learned, through picking a lot of balls out for them and watching.
“He told me stories from the old days, and I remember seeing him and Reardon and Griffiths and Cliff Wilson playing snooker on a table on the side of Tredegar Mountain.
“He was one of the great characters and of course for a young Welsh player coming through, Doug and all of these guys were inspiring.
“I have had a snooker club for years now, and he was in there every morning next to me practising for years.
“And this was not when I was a kid or he was a pro, but when he was in his 60s and 70s, just for the love of the game. He played in a league team for the club at snooker and pool.
“He came in at 11am every day and religiously did two and a half hours on his own while I was practising myself, that only stopped a few years ago.
“I don’t think I would have done as well without that, they were generous with their time.”
There was a minute’s silence in the arena on Monday in memory of Mountjoy before the start of play.
After a 4-1 win over Zak Surety, defending champion Shaun Murphy said: “Doug was in all the annuals and magazines as I was growing up.
“He never sought the limelight and deserved more credit than he got, and that will rightly be coming his way this week.”
This post appeared first on Daily Star - Snooker.