TODAY marks the anniversary of one of the greatest achievements ever accomplished by a sportsperson from the city.

It is 34 years to the day since a Bradfordian lifted the trophy every snooker player desires, the World Championship.

In 1986, Joe Johnson shocked the sporting world by putting his 150-1 pre-tournament odds aside to down the dominant Steve Davis 18-12 in the final.

Coming into the tournament, Johnson had not won a match in six attempts at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, before defeating the likes of Terry Griffiths and Tony Knowles on his way to trumping the ‘Nugget’.

So when did the Bradford Moor potter know he had the prestigious trophy in the bag? “When I potted the final ball,” Johnson chuckled.

“He was such a great player Steve Davis, he was renowned for coming back at people. If someone got in front he never gave in. I always expected him to come back at me even when I was leading 17-12.

“It was a massive relief. You can tell by my face that I was just so pleased to get over the line. It was something special.

“I got through that first match, relaxed, then started to play. People don’t realise that, although I was a big outsider, I was still in the top 16. The snooker players knew that I could play a little bit.

“You have got to beat the world number one to be world champion. If you don’t do that, you are always going to be asking yourself questions.”

Back in the seventies, snooker was not the global 40 plus event tour that it is today. Neither had it yet hit the dizzy heights of the eighties, where millions and millions of people were watching it on TV.

The Bradfordian admits his best days were in those aforementioned years, where he reached an England and world final as an amateur, but he still has no regrets about turning pro at the late age of 27.

“It happened a little bit late for me in my career,” he said. “My best years were in my twenties. When I first turned pro, there were only two tournaments, so if you didn’t do well in one of them, you had a long time to wait with no money.

“There was no money in the game before (Terry) Griffiths won the World Championship in 1979. (Alex) Higgins got something like £400 (after winning the 1972 Worlds), there was no money in it.

“I was earning more money as number one in the amateurs than what some of the pros were earning. I was happy to stay as an amateur.”

Fast forward half a century and Johnson thinks some players will struggle with no competitions due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The World Snooker Tour had to postpone this year’s World Championship until July 31, meaning those who are not top earners will have no income for the next few months.

The former world champion feels for the lower ranked players and thinks we could see more tournaments on the continent once play resumes.

“The ones lower down the rankings are going to be hard pushed I would think,” he added.

“The top ones get sponsors and should have enough money in the bank from what they have won. They are on £200,000-£300,000 a year.

“Five of the top paid ranking tournaments, except from the World Championship, are in China. Even if they let up the sanctions, I don’t know if the players at this time would want to go back over to China until it is completely cleared.

“There is scope to making it a little bit more in Europe and that could be the way forward. Barry Hearn is fantastic at getting sponsors, so it could be that more events come and go.”

The 67-year-old is still passionate about bringing through the next generation of snooker talent through his coaching academy.

Johnson coached three-time Masters champion Paul Hunter before his sad passing in 2006, and he named two young players he thinks can reach the heights that the Leeds star did.

He added: “There are two lads that were playing in my coaching academy. I have not seen the likes of these two boys since Paul Hunter.

“Daniel Boyes (11) and Stan Moody (13), they are both making century breaks, which is incredible.”

Let's hope one day we can mention these two names alongside Johnson’s as a small number of men who have collected the prized world crown.