Player Profile

Fred Davis

NameDate of Birth Country
Fred Davis14-08-1913United Kingdom
Name :Fred Davis
Highest Ranking :4
Highest Break :140 ( 1952 World  Professional Match championship)
Century Breaks :24
Fred Davis, OBE (14 August 1913 – 16 April 1998) was an English professional player of snooker and billiards, one of only two players ever to win the world title in both, the other being his brother Joe. He was one of the most popular personalities in the game. His professional career lasted from 1929 to 1993. He was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
Early career
Davis was originally a billiards player; he called billiards 'his first love' and he won the British Boys Under 16 Billiards Championship in 1929. He turned professional automatically under the rules of the Billiards Association and Control Council in 1929. By the time that he was ready to play competitive billiards, the sport was in sharp decline, although he did beat Kingsley Kennerley to win the United Kingdom Professional Billiards Championship in 1951. Davis remarked that once snooker had come to the fore he assumed that he would never play another billiards match. 
Forced to concentrate on snooker, he first played in the World Snooker Championship in 1937 but lost 17–14 to Welshman Bill Withers in the first round, a defeat that Davis put down to ignoring his worsening eyesight. His brother Joe considered this defeat an affront to the family honour and hammered Withers 30–1 in the very next round. Joe's fury with his brother's performance persuaded Fred to consult an optician who devised a pair of spectacles with swivel lens joints. He reached the semi-finals in 1938 and 1939 and lost only 37–36 to Joe Davis in the 1940 final (although the winning margin was reached at 37–35 as 'dead' frames were still played out). This was the only time they met in the World Championship final. A short clip of the match and a mention of Fred's impending World War IIservice is recorded in a Pathé news clip. Davis in fact was called up on 20 July 1940, only five days after his marriage to Sheila. 
Post-war career
He was the younger brother (by twelve years) of Joe Davis, who dominated snooker from 1927 to 1946; they are no relation to later champion Steve Davis. Joe retired from the World Snooker Championship after his 1946 victory, leaving the way open for Fred to win three times, in 1948, 1949 and 1951. Fred would go on to have the distinction of being the only player to beat Joe on level terms (albeit outside of the world championship as Joe retired from championship play in 1947), a feat he achieved four times between 1948 and 1954. Such victories were especially sweet as Joe had told Fred that he would never beat him. Following a disagreement between some of the players and the governing body, Davis played in an alternative tournament—the World Professional Match-play Championship—which he won on five consecutive occasions from 1952 to 1956. Between 1947 and 1954 Fred's great rival was Walter Donaldson, and they met in eight consecutive finals. Donaldson's 1947 victory over Davis by 82–63 was a huge shock and Davis put down his defeat to a mixture of over-confidence and Donaldson's solid practice regime ahead of the championship which gave him a huge edge in his long potting. 
Snooker remained a huge attraction at this time, and crowds filled Blackpool Tower Circus to see Davis beat Donaldson 84–61 in the 1948 final and 80–65 in the 1949 final. However times were changing, and from 1950 matches became shorter. Donaldson beat Davis for the last time to win the 1950 title, 51–46. When Davis won the 1954 event with a 39–21 victory over Donaldson, it was clear there was a decline in interest as only five players entered the championship; Donaldson then retired. 
After defeating John Pulman in two close finals in 1955 and 1956, Davis chose not to play in the 1957 Championship—held in Jersey and, for financial reasons, featuring just four entrants—thus leaving the path clear for his rival Pulman. After the war Davis and his wife had invested in a hotel in Llandudno, and this gave them some financial security away from snooker. This proved a wise move; by the early 1960s Davis was playing exhibitions in aid of cancer charities, but soon even this limited amount of snooker activity dried up. Following tours of Canada and Australia (where he won an international tournament in 1960) and after an exhibition in Pontefract where he performed in front of only a handful of people, Davis effectively went into retirement. He hardly played for four seasons before being contacted by Rex Williams, who was keen to restart interest in snooker. 
When the official World Championship was resumed in 1964 on a challenge basis, Davis had lost his edge and was defeated on each occasion by Pulman: in 1964 by 19 frames to 16, in 1965 by just 37 frames to 36 and in 1966 by 5–2 in matches. 
Later career
The revival of the World Championship as a tournament in 1969 saw Davis beat future world champion Ray Reardon by 25 frames to 24 (the final frame not ending until 1.33am), before losing 37–24 to Gary Owen in the semi-finals. Davis's epic match with Reardon would earn a place in the Guinness Book of Records (as the longest recorded snooker session) and Reardon would later note that he learned more from that match than he had in the previous 20 years.
Soon after winning the Professional Snooker Association of Canada's Invitation Event (beating Rex Williams and Paul Thornley in the last two rounds) Davis suffered the first of two heart attacks in May 1970 and did not journey to the November 1970 World Championship held in Australia and won by John Spencer. He lost 31–21 to Spencer in his first match in the 1972 championship, but beat David Greaves 16–1 in the second round of the 1973 championship before losing to Alex Higgins 16–14 in the quarter-finals. In 1975 Davis travelled to Australia to compete in the World Championship, where he played Dennis Taylor in an ordinary club billiard room in which a large number of one-armed bandits were in constant use. Hampered by such conditions, an unhappy Davis lost by a single frame, 15–14. The 1975 Watney Open in Leeds provided some consolation, and Davis beat Patsy Fagan 13–9 and John Spencer 13–12 before losing 17–11 in the final to Alex Higgins. Davis stated that a win over Spencer convinced him that he could still compete at the highest level of tournament play. 
World rankings were introduced in 1976. Davis's abilities had peaked long before this, but he was still ranked number 4 that season. In 1977 Davis was ranked number 9, rising to 6 during both the 1978 and 1979 seasons; he was still ranked 8 in 1980. 
Although Davis lost 15–13 to Eddie Charlton in the quarter-finals of the 1976 World Championship, having beaten Bill Werbeniuk 15–12 in round one, he came very close to a major prize when he lost 10–9 to Ray Reardon in the final of the Pontins Professional tournament. Davis missed a crucial brown in the final frame, having made a break of 107 during the match. This game would be described at the 'Pro Match of the Season'. 
He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1977. Davis (accompanied by his wife Sheila) was presented with the award by H.M. The Queen Mother at Buckingham Palace. 
He reached the semi-finals of the World Snooker Championship in 1978, at the age of 64, having defeated John Virgo 9–8, Dennis Taylor 13–9 and Patsy Fagan 13–10. His defeat by South African Perrie Mans saw Davis miss a crucial pink from its spot on the verge of pulling up to one frame behind at 15–16. Davis closed 1978 with a quarter-final appearance in the United Kingdom Professional Championship. He defeated veteran Yorkshireman John Dunning 9–2 before losing to Alex Higgins 9–4. 
In early 1979 Davis met Alex Higgins in the final of the Castle Open (an event hosted at Bernard Bennett's club in Southampton). Davis lost the match 5–1, having earlier defeated Willie Thorne 4–3 and Cliff Thorburn 4–1, but clearly won over the crowd at the event. 
During the World Championship that year he beat Kirk Stevens 13–8 to progress to the quarter-finals. This match was to be his last victory at the Crucible Theatre, but Davis had the satisfaction of compiling the first century of the championship, 109 in the sixth frame — an effort even applauded by the referee. In the quarter-final against Eddie Charlton, Davis soon fell 5–0 behind; he later admitted that he unwisely played an attacking game. Although he made a break of 110, he lost the match 13–4. 
During the first World Challenge Cup in 1979 Davis acted as England's captain (the team was completed by John Spencer and Graham Miles). He won his first seven frames, which meant that he was instrumental in England's 8–7 victories over Northern Ireland and the Rest of the World. England were however defeated 14–3 in the final by Wales, whose team included the then-current world champion and his predecessor. 
Although Davis lost 13–5 to David Taylor in his first match in the 1980 World Championship, he did reach the quarter-finals of the United Kingdom Professional Championship that year with a 9–6 victory over Mark Wildman before his 9–6 defeat by Alex Higgins. 
In 1981, at the age of 67, Davis played in his last snooker final, the Raffles/Sheffield Shield Tournament played at the Sheffield Snooker Centre. He beat Mike Watterson 9–6 (having trailed 5–1) and Dennis Taylor 9–5 (having trailed 5–3). In the final he led Terry Griffiths 4–1 but eventually lost 9–5. Earlier in the season he played in his last Masters, beating Kirk Stevens 5–4 in the first round before losing to Terry Griffiths 5–2 in the quarter-finals.
Billiard career
Davis won the World Billiards Championships in June 1980, beating Rex Williams 5978-4452, and in so doing became the only player except for Joe Davis to have lifted both the World Snooker and World Billiards titles. 
The modest billiards revival continued during the 1980s and Davis continued to play in events during the decade. In March 1982 he was defeated by a record narrow margin of six points in the semi-finals whilst defending his world title, as eventual champion Rex Williams beat him 1500-1494. In the 1983 event he beat Clive Everton and Eddie Charlton en route to the final where he lost to Rex Williams 1500-605, but at least took the highest break prize for an effort of 427. Also revived (from 1979) was the United Kingdom Professional Billiards Championship. Although Davis lost the title 1548-1031 in the semi-final of the 1979 event (to John Barrie) Davis looked likely to reclaim the title in 1983 when, having dispatched Ian Williamson and Ray Edmonds, he led Mark Wildman 750–477 after the first session of the final. However, Wildman recovered to take the title by 1500–1032.
In the 1984 World Billiards Championship Davis lost to Eddie Charlton 1436-829 in the semi-finals. After this time billiard events increasingly changed structure to a series of games of 400 or 150 points. Davis was always less happy with this structure; with this and with his advancing years, Davis fared less well at the game after this time. In the 1985 World Championship he did defeat Clive Everton 3–1 in round one, but fell 3–0 to Australian Robby Foldvari in the quarter-finals. The following year (still seeded 3) he lost 3–0 to Bob Close, who was making his professional debut. In 1987 he reached the quarter-finals of both the UK Billiards Championship and the World Championship, but lost on both occasions to Robby Foldvari. Davis's last entry in the World Billiards Championship came in 1992, but with the main competition to be played in India, he did not play his first-round match against David Barton. Davis did enter the 1993 UK Billiards Championship, but did not play his first-round match against Ian Williamson and he also scratched from the Radiant Grand Slam Second Leg where he was due to play David Edwards that same month.

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