Legendary snooker coach Frank Callan, who worked with many of the sport’s all-time greats, has died at the age of 93.
Callan played a vital role in the careers of Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, John Parrott, Doug Mountjoy and Terry Griffiths, who described him as the ‘father of coaching.’
Lancastrian Callan was a keen amateur player in his teenage years, then went into the army in 1940 and took up snooker again in his late 20s, winning the North West of England Championship.
Many years later, during the 1970s, he became fascinated by the mechanics of snooker and began to coach players. His principal philosophy was that technique should be flexible in order to suit an individual player, rather than moulding the body unnaturally to a preconceived technique.
He helped Davis and Hendry dominate snooker throughout the 1980s and 90s respectively. When Hendry won his record seventh world title in 1999, he gave credit to Callan for noticing a flaw in his cue action which had caused a slump the previous year. The Scot said: “It was something so simple I was doing wrong – I was putting unwanted side on the cue ball – and Frank helped me cure it. Hew knows every glitch.”
In 1989 he published the influential book Frank Callan’s Snooker Clinic.
Davis said: “Like many of his generation he was brought up on the Joe Davis bible, but like myself and my father he questioned the doctrine and forged his own ideas on coaching. He loved the game and was delighted to help any player who was struggling. He was a friend to many of the top players and a true legend of snooker.”
Former coach and player Phil Seaton said: “I first met Frank in 1990 and in the years that followed I probably spent hundreds of hours with him. His understanding of the game was beyond anyone else’s. He had a unique way of identifying what a player was doing wrong within ten minutes, and correcting it with very simple language. Every player who sent to see him would find, within a few minutes, that they were hitting the ball better.
“He was very dry, very blunt, very direct and very funny. Some people didn’t get on with him but the vast majority had only good things to say about him.”
Welshman Griffiths, one of today’s leading coaches, added: “Frank was the first real professional coach. I learned a lot from him both as a player and a coach.”
Other players paid tribute to Callan on Twitter:
Sad to hear my first coach, the legend that is Frank Callan passed away today
Sad to hear of the passing of snooker’s original master – Frank Callan. Enjoyed his company over the years and his insights. RIP Frank
Just heard the sad news, Frank Callan has died. A truly great man & the daddy of all snooker coaches. Never forgotten RIP Frank & thank you.
RIP to my first coach and one of the best ever, Frank Callan
One of snooker’s greatest coaches was taken today. Rip Frank Callan