As demonstrated by the number and source of so many glowing tributes, snooker lost one of its greatest ever coaches last week in Frank Callan.

Tot up the world titles won by those players Callan worked with to great effect, and you are soon moving well into double figures.

Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, Terry Griffiths, John Parrott, Doug Mountjoy, Allison Fisher – these were just some of those helped along their way by the Lancastrian.

A keen student of the science, mechanics and technical side like Joe Davis before him and Steve Davis after, Callan was a keen and talented amateur but will be best remembered in snooker for the improvements he was able to produce in others.

When Griffiths, the 1979 world champion and now widely known for his own work with players, describes someone as “the father of coaching” then everyone should accept his verdict.

However, Griffiths was very far from alone in his acknowledgement - and it is in the strength and genuine nature of such testimonies that Callan’s true legacy can be found.

Having served in the army during the Second World War Callan resumed his amateur career in the north-west, before taking a closer interest in first golf technique and then back to snooker, as a back injury curtailed his playing activities.

But the real story of Callan is in what those who he helped say about his contribution.

Hendry had already won six times at the Crucible when defeat to Ken Doherty in 1997 triggered a rare period of self-doubt. With Callan’s help, he made adjustments and two years later was lifting the trophy for a record-breaking seventh time.

Hendry said at the time: “It was something so simple I was doing wrong - I was putting unwanted side on the cue ball - and Frank helped me cure it.

“Nobody watches more snooker than my manager Ian Doyle but he doesn't understand the technical side like Frank. He knows every glitch.”


Look at what Davis has had to say about Callan, and the comments were in very similar vein.

Davis said: “Frank Callan is one of a very select band of people who have insight into the technical game at the highest level. He is one of the few men I've ever talked to in depth about technique, simply because there aren't many people with whom I can have that kind of conversation

“He's practised with me for many hours, and I can't think of anyone who loves the game more than he does. If any deserving case asks me to recommend a coach to put them right, I always give them Frank's phone number.”

Mountjoy’s career was in decline when he turned to Callan – who helped him to a famous 16-12 win in the UK Championship final over Hendry in 1988.

He said: “Without Frank Callan I am nothing. He has given me back my game. I can never repay Frank for what he has done for me. It is difficult on your own to find out what you have been doing wrong so I went to Frank Callan. He has helped me so much, he must be sick of seeing me. He should have the trophy; I owe it all to Frank.”

The men and women who know exactly how good Callan was - those top players - may be small in number, but the fulsome and generous tributes tell their own story.


Photographs courtesy of Monique Limbos/fcsnooker