VIC HARRIS, the 1981 English amateur champion, has died of cancer at the age of 69.

Harris was a hugely influential figure in snooker, particularly in the Essex area where he was credited with talent spotting and mentoring Steve Davis at a young age. The Vic Harris Snooker League in Essex featured several players who went on to become well known professionals.

Barry Hearn, chairman of World Snooker, had special reason to remember Harris. He said: “Sad news that Vic Harris died today. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. A great player and Romford hero who will be missed. Life is strange. If Vic Harris wasn’t at Romford, Steve Davis wouldn’t have played there and I wouldn’t have met Steve. If I hadn’t met Steve then there may have never been a Matchroom and the sporting world it helped to create. Who knows how fate works. RIP Vic and thanks.”

Harris achieved a highest ranking of 63rd in his 13 seasons as a professional. He was a quarter-finalist in the 1981 Scottish Masters and reached the last 32 of the 1985 British Open, 1986 Mercantile Classic and 1987 UK Championship.

But to most people in the snooker world, Vic Harris will be remembered for his generosity of spirit and the help he gave many players as they started out.

Several players paid tribute on twitter. Stuart Bingham said: “Just heard the sad news, Vic Harris passed away this afternoon. Someone who helped me in my early days! Had a great innings! RIP mate.”

Barry Pinches: “Really sad to hear that Vic Harris has passed away today. Ex snooker pro and top coach but above all a true gent and lovely guy. RIP Vic.”

Mark King: “Really sad to here that Vic Harris passed away truly great guy that I really looked up to when I was starting out.”

Joe Perry: “Sad news about one of snookers great old characters! Vic Harris, a genuine lovely man. Rest in Peace!”

Matt Selt: “So sad to hear about Vic Harris this morning. Great guy who always had time to help me as a kid! Snookering legend.. RIP VIC”

Shaun Murphy: “Remember reading about Vic Harris in @SteveSnooker first book. Met him once too. Lovely bloke.”