Joe Perry: Jimmy White an inspiration qualifying for UK Championship aged 60
Thirty years after winning his first and only UK Championship title, Jimmy White will receive a raucous welcome when he returns to the final stages of the tournament in York on Saturday.
At the age of 60, White swept aside former winner Stephen Maguire and world number 57 Dominic Dale in qualifying to reach the last 32 for the first time in over a decade.
White’s feat is all the more remarkable given the struggles he has endured on the tour in recent seasons, leading some to question the validity of continuing to hand the 1992 winner and six-time World Championship runner-up a tour wild card.
But for Joe Perry, at 48 the second oldest player in the draw, and whose success at the Welsh Open earlier this year made him the second oldest ranking event winner, White is continuing to serve as an inspiration for generations of players.
Perry, who will play his close friend Neil Robertson on Sunday, said: “Jimmy gets a wild card as long as he wants one; he is great for the game and it is nice to see him get some reward for all the hard work he puts in.
“Without doubt he is an inspiration to all of us. When I think Jimmy is 60 and still battling away, and I’m thinking it may be time for me and I’m 48, he’s got 12 years on me, so you can’t be moaning about your age.”
White made his first appearance at the UK Championship in 1984, losing to Steve Davis in the last eight, and reached finals in 1987 and 1991 before his title win in 1992, beating John Parrott 16-9 in the final.
It took White 11 more years until he returned to the semi-finals of the tournament, where he saw his run ended by eventual winner Matthew Stevens in 2003.
“Every one of these guys is in the top 16 for a reason and that is because they are consistent,” White told World Snooker Tour. “I’m down in the rankings because I’m not consistent but my ‘A’ game can compare with any of them.”
Reigning champion Zhao Xintong gets the tournament underway on Saturday afternoon against Sam Craigie, before White and Day provide the highlight of the opening evening session.
Stevens, who conquered White en route to winning his solitary title in 2003, also turned back the clock to come through qualifying and set up a first-round meeting with Ronnie O’Sullivan on Monday.