Virgo in 2003
|Born||3 March 1946|
Salford, Lancashire, England
|Nickname||Mr Perfection, JV|
|Highest ranking||10 (1979/80)|
|Highest||139 (1987 English Professional Championship)|
|Best ranking finish||Semi-final (4 times)|
Early professional career (1973–1978)
Virgo's first notable appearance in a major tournament was during the 1973 American Pool Tournament for The Indoor League where he lost in the semi-final. He turned professional in 1976, at a time when players such as Ray Reardon, John Spencer and Eddie Charlton were at the forefront of the sport. Although he had just turned 30 upon turning pro, Virgo was still among the youngest players on the circuit at the time. In 1977, he reached the semi-finals of the UK Championship losing to eventual winner Patsy Fagan by a single frame 8–9.
UK Champion and Top 10 player (1979–1990)
Virgo's snooker-playing fortunes peaked in 1979 when he reached the semi-final of the World Championship, and went on to win the 1979 UK Championship (though this was not a ranking event at the time). En route to the final, he beat Tony Meo, Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor. He overcame the reigning world champion Terry Griffiths in the final, despite being controversially docked two frames because of a miscommunication regarding the start time of the next session of play. He reached his highest ranking, world number 10, during the 1979/1980 season.
Career as exhibition player and TV commentator
As part of his exhibition performances, Virgo performed trick shots and comedic impressions of other snooker players. During the 1981 World Championship, he performed some of his impressions, including Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins, Steve Davis and Ray Reardon. He repeated this act in further World Championships, usually after semi-finals that had ended earlier than expected.
He is now a TV snooker commentator, working primarily during the BBC's coverage of ranking events. From 1991 to 2002, Virgo was co-presenter of the snooker-based TV game show Big Break with Jim Davidson. During each show, Virgo participated in the "trick shots" segment, where a competitor who had been ousted from the main quiz would try to copy a complicated snooker shot performed by Virgo in order to win a prize.
Virgo is well known for shouting "where's the going?" during his commentaries, whenever a shot is played in such a way that the cueball is in danger of going into one of the pockets. Virgo will also make the same familiar exclamation about one of the "coloured balls", if it is , or approaches very close to the pocket.
Virgo's tribute book to the late Alex Higgins, Let Me Tell You About Alex, was published in February 2011 and described as "explosive". In April 2012, his book Amazing Snooker Trick Shots was published.
In 2012, Virgo featured in Nicholas Gleaves' debut radio play Sunk who guides a young man in his dream of becoming a snooker champion while battling to avoid a life of crime. This was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
Virgo has recently worked with a pool and snooker table company called Liberty Games to create a web-based series of trick shot videos known as the Trick Shot Academy.
In 2014, Virgo released a trick shot app, John Virgo's Snooker Trick Shots, available on Apple and Android devices. It has Virgo performing 45 trick shots and contains diagrams and video clips for each. It also has Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins performing three trick shots including 'Higgins Goes Bananas'.
Virgo is currently embarking on a new venture, opening a new vegan café, Virgo's Vegan Cafe, in his home city of Salford, with help from fellow snooker player and friend Peter Ebdon.
Virgo lives in Cobham, Surrey. He has two children, a son, Gary, from his first marriage, and a daughter, Brook Leah, from his second marriage. He separated from his second wife, Avril, in 1991, after eight years together. In 2009, he married Rosie Ries, then deputy managing director at John Blake Publishing.
Virgo was once gunged on Noel's House Party. He is a fan of the football club Manchester United F.C. In 1996, he appeared as a celebrity contestant on the short-lived Saturday night BBC light entertainment show Full Swing, alongside John Lodge from The Moody Blues and former Arsenal goalkeeper Pat Jennings; he did not make the final.
Performance and rankings timeline
|Dubai Classic||Tournament Not Held||NR||3R||1R||1R||LQ||A|
|Grand Prix||Tournament Not Held||SF||2R||2R||1R||2R||2R||1R||2R||1R||1R||LQ||LQ|
|UK Championship||Tournament Not Held||Non-Ranking Event||LQ||2R||2R||2R||QF||1R||1R||1R||LQ||LQ|
|European Open||Tournament Not Held||3R||2R||2R||2R||LQ||A|
|Welsh Open||Tournament Not Held||2R||LQ||WD|
|International Open||Tournament Not Held||NR||SF||1R||2R||2R||2R||QF||2R||1R||Not Held||1R||WD|
|Thailand Open||Tournament Not Held||Non-Ranking Event||Not Held||3R||2R||1R||LQ||A|
|British Open||Tournament Not Held||Non-Ranking Event||2R||SF||QF||2R||2R||1R||1R||1R||LQ||WD|
|European League||Tournament Not Held||W||Not Held||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A|
|Former ranking tournaments|
|Canadian Masters||Not Held||Non-Ranking Event||Tournament Not Held||Non-Ranking||2R||Tournament Not Held|
|Hong Kong Open||Tournament Not Held||Non-Ranking Event||NH||3R||Tournament Not Held|
|Classic||Tournament Not Held||Non-Ranking Event||1R||QF||2R||2R||3R||3R||3R||1R||3R||Not Held|
|Strachan Open||Tournament Not Held||1R||MR||NR|
|Former non-ranking tournaments|
|Norwich Union Open||1R||Tournament Not Held|
|Canadian Club Masters||Not Held||QF||Tournament Not Held|
|Canadian Masters||NH||QF||A||SF||A||A||A||A||Tournament Not Held||A||A||A||R||Tournament Not Held]|
|Tolly Cobbold Classic||Tournament Not Held||A||SF||A||A||A||A||Tournament Not Held|
|Bombay International||Tournament Not Held||A||W||Tournament Not Held|
|Champion of Champions||Tournament Not Held||A||NH||F||Tournament Not Held|
|International Open||Tournament Not Held||QF||Ranking Event||Not Held||Ranking|
|Classic||Tournament Not Held||SF||A||A||1R||Ranking Event||Not Held|
|Pontins Brean Sands||Tournament Not Held||SF||Tournament Not Held|
|UK Championship||Tournament Not Held||SF||QF||W||2R||1R||QF||1R||Ranking Event|
|British Open||Tournament Not Held||RR||RR||2R||LQ||RR||Ranking Event|
|New Zealand Masters||Tournament Not Held||1R||Not Held||A||A||Tournament Not Held|
|Australian Masters||Tournament Not Held||A||A||A||A||A||F||QF||A||A||NH||R||Tournament Not Held|
|English Professional Championship||Tournament Not Held||2R||Not Held||QF||QF||2R||2R||1R||Tournament Not Held|
|Norwich Union Grand Prix||Tournament Not Held||A||QF||A||Not Held|
|World Seniors Championship||Tournament Not Held||1R||Not Held|
|Performance Table Legend|
|LQ||lost in the qualifying draw||#R||lost in the early rounds of the tournament
(WR = Wildcard round, RR = Round robin)
|QF||lost in the quarter-finals|
|SF||lost in the semi-finals||F||lost in the final||W||won the tournament|
|DNQ||did not qualify for the tournament||A||did not participate in the tournament||WD||withdrew from the tournament|
|NH / Not Held||means an event was not held.|
|NR / Non-Ranking Event||means an event is/was no longer a ranking event.|
|R / Ranking Event||means an event is/was a ranking event.|
- He was an amateur.
- New players on the Main Tour do not have a ranking.
- The event was also called the Dubai Masters (1988/1989)
- The event was also called the Professional Players Tournament (1982/83–1983/84)
- The event was also called the Goya Matchroom Trophy (1985/1986)
- The event was also called the Asian Open (1989/1990–1992/1993)
- The event was also called the British Gold Cup (1979/1980), Yamaha Organs Trophy (1980/1981) and International Masters (1981/1982–1983/1984)
- The event was also called the Benson & Hedges Ireland Tournament (1974/1975–1976/1977)
- The event was also called the Professional Snooker League (1983/1984) and the Matchroom League (1986/1987 to 1991/1992)
- The event was also called the Canadian Open (1974/1975–1980/1981)
- The event was also called the Australian Masters (1979/1980–1987/1988 & 1995/1996) and Australian Open (1994/1995)
- The event was also called the Hong Kong Open (1989/1990) and Australian Open (1994/1995)
Non-ranking finals: 6 (4 titles, 2 runners-up)
|UK Championship (1–0)|
|Outcome||No.||Year||Championship||Opponent in the final||Score|
|Runner-up||1.||1980||Champion of Champions||8–10|
|Winner||4.||1984||Professional Snooker League||Round-Robin|
- Wintle, Angela (11 January 2014). "Big Break star John Virgo on trick shots, snooker legends and his Cobham home". Surrey Life. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
- "CueTracker – 1986 British Open – Snooker Results & Statistics". cuetracker.net.
- "CueTracker – John Virgo – Season 1993–1994 – Snooker Results & Statistics". cuetracker.net.
- Lawless, John (27 April 2015). "Will the Real John Virgo Please Shut Up?". HuffPost. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
- "John Virgo: My life in the eye of Hurricane Higgins". The Belfast Telegraph. 29 January 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- "Trick Shot Academy". Liberty Games. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
- Cassidy, Denis (2 November 2003). "I'M BIG BROKE; Ex-wife's fury as snooker ace Virgo cuts payments". The People. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- "Ranking History". Snooker.org. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
- "pontins". 28 February 2012.
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