South Africa’s best ever player Pierre ‘Perrie’ Mans, who won the Masters in 1979 and reached the World Championship final in 1978, has died at the age of 82.
Snooker and Billiards South Africa’s Facebook page announced on Wednesday that Mans, from Lichtenburg, had passed away.
Born in 1940, Mans became the best player in his country during his 20s and won the South African national title for the first time in 1965.
The left-hander first played in the World Championship in 1970, and four years later he scored a surprise victory over John Spencer in the last 16 before losing to Rex Williams. In 1978, the second year that the event had been held at the Crucible, Mans knocked out Spencer and Graham Miles to reach the semi-finals, before a narrow 18-16 victory over a 64-year old Fred Davis.
In the final against Ray Reardon, the dominant force of the 1970s, Mans was in with a chance of snooker’s most coveted crown when he trailed just 18-17, but Reardon pulled away to take seven of the last eight frames and win 25-18. His run to the final left Mans second in the world rankings.
His greatest moment came at the Masters the following year – the first time that the event was staged at the immense Wembley Conference Centre. After beating Cliff Thorburn and Reardon, Mans comfortably saw off Alex Higgins 8-4 in the final to win what is now regarded as snooker’s most historic and prestigious invitation event. Famously, his highest break in the tournament was just 48, a fact which underlines the extent to which the standard of play has changed since snooker’s early years as a televised sport, and also the quality of Mans’ tactical game which he could rely on to win matches without clinching frames in a single visit.
Mans also won Pot Black, the one-frame knockout tournament which did so much to raise the profile of snooker, at his first attempt in 1977.
During the 1980s, once into his 40s, Mans became less of a force at the top end of the sport, though he did score a notable defeat of Steve Davis in the first round of the 1981 Masters. He retired from the professional ranks in 1987.
Snooker and Billiards South Africa Head Coach Rafik S Limbada said: “Just heard the sad news that Pierre Mans has passed on. A sad day for South African Snooker, he was an icon of our sport.”
Mans made an outstanding contribution to snooker, particularly in growing the sport in South Africa. WST and WPBSA send our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Article by WST.