‘All White on the night’ – The little-known fact about Whirlwind’s inspired run at German Masters

'All White on the night' – The little-known fact about Whirlwind's inspired run at German Masters thumbnail

Turning back the clock, rolling back the years or defying old Father Time? Take your pick from every gnarled old cliché you like when it comes to the wonderful Whirlwind of old London town. They’d all be White. Like a rejuvenated Jimmy in Berlin, all White on the night.

The German Masters at the city’s teeming Tempodrom has witnessed a lot since its inception as a major ranking event in 2011, but has never paid homage to a 60-year-old snooker player gulping copiously from the green baize fountain of youth.

Jimmy White has suddenly become a magical sporting time traveller. His 5-1 win against Peng Yisong in the last 32 of the German Masters on Wednesday evening saw him weigh in with sturdy knocks of 55, 82, 63, 50 and 70 to progress his case in resounding style. It was one from the classic Whirlwind vault minus his formidable 1990s mullet.

German Masters

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Peng is a 21-year-old who was seven years away from being born when Jimmy was contesting and losing the last of his six world finals against Stephen Hendry in 1994, an agonising 18-17 defeat that denied him the chance to finally hoist the big one above his head.

He will meet ‘Jackpot’ Jack Lisowski on the main table on Thursday night chasing a first quarter-final appearance at a ranking event since he pocketed the Players Championship in April 2004 in Glasgow.

While snooker does not demand physical superiority, these remain remarkable goings-on amid the mental maelstrom of competing among the professional elite over five decades of delight and despair. For Jimbo, probably more so than most.

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White remains a character who will forever be recalled for finishing behind some other guy on the most revered occasions. Professional sport is strewn with such figures: golf’s Colin Montgomerie, Earnie Shavers in boxing or Nikolay Davydenko in tennis spring to mind. White is perhaps the daddy of them all. Or rather not.

Lisowski was seven years away from being born when Jimmy was contesting the first of his six world finals and narrowly losing 18-16 to Steve Davis in 1984, only four years after he turned pro, having trailed 9-3.

The last man aged 60 to reach the last 16 of a ranking event was ‘Steady’ Eddie Charlton, the magnificently measured Aussie who fought rust to see which moved quicker, at the British Open in February 1992. Charlton lost 5-2 to Ken Doherty, but that was not the final word.

A little-known fact is that British Open was won by the 29-year-old White, who defeated James Wattana 10-7 in Derby to earn the trophy and 75 grand. Perhaps this is a curious quirk of fate? An omen? Or perhaps not.

‘That will do nicely’ – White takes third frame with break of 82

What we do know is that White is performing close to his peak powers when in the mood. Back in the day, Jimmy enjoyed partying as much as potting, probably to his eternal detriment in the company of ferociously dedicated foes Davis and Hendry, but snooker has always been a game of great rebirths.

Rather than skulk around feeling sorry for himself, White has never thrown in the white towel under the weight of his storied past that has seen him celebrated as the ‘People’s Champion’ if sadly not a world champion, a title which befitted his burgeoning talent, attacking outlook and epic contribution to the sport’s popularity in the 1980s televised boom.

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His run to the German Masters is no accident after he reached the last 32 of the UK Championship in November, 30 years after dominating the UK final 16-9 against John Parrott, the other bloke who infamously denied him in a world final in 1991.

1992 was also White’s most successful year in the sport when he claimed four ranking titles, made the second 147 in Crucible history at the World Championship and somehow lost 18-14 to Hendry in the world final having led 14-8.

In snooker’s version of Back to the Future, Jimmy White – who once changed his name to Jimmy Brown by deed poll in a marketing stunt before the 2005 Masters – has turned the clock back like Doc Emmett Brown in his Delorean.

It is an inspirational story and one that suggests quitting when you are down merely deprives the soul of future prosperity. You never know what is around the corner, but there is always room to work on self-improvement.

Jimmy White has made an art form out of losing world finals, but has won much, much more than he will ever lose. Such a champion’s desire to compete is something to behold.

Before the 2012 Masters final at Alexandra Palace, I sat down with Jimmy ahead of a testimonial dinner to mark his 50th birthday that saw his old mucker Ronnie Wood and the Rolling Stones wash up.

“If I’m still playing well, there is no reason why I need to retire,” he told me. “You either want it or you don’t. I am 100 per cent committed. I love the game too much. I’ve tried to go play golf or sit in the sun, but that is not for me.”

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A rolling stone gathers no moss. And on Jimmy goes.

‘A sight we have been watching for over four decades’ – White entertains at German Masters

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German Masters

‘A sight we have been watching for over four decades’ – White entertains at German Masters


German Masters

‘First 60 something to reach last 16 of a ranking event since 1992!’ – White beats Peng


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