Virgo is well known for his trademark impersonations of fellow professionals. However, he was no mug with a cue. Salford born Virgo won the National Under 16 and Under 19 titles and in 1976 he turned professional.
His base was the famous Potters club in Salford that became a regular haunt for Alex Higgins and Jimmy White.
1979 was a great year for Virgo. He reached the semi-finals of the world championship, losing to Dennis Taylor but won the UK Championship at the expense of Terry Griffiths.
It was Virgo’s one major title but at that stage the UK hadn’t been upgraded to ranking event status.
A regular member of the top 16, John enjoyed another good year in 1982. He reached the semi-finals of the Professional Players’ tournament and the Jameson International but didn’t make it to the final.
He was also ‘discovered’ as a first class impersonator, particularly of Hurricane Higgins, then at the peak of his powers.
Four years later Virgo reached the semi-finals of the British Open. But by now though his wins were less frequent than his defeats.
They became fewer after taking up the chairmanship of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.
His last year on the tour came in 1993-94 though he didn’t have any idle moments.
Paired with Cockney comic Jim Davidson, BBC’s snooker quiz show, Big Break, became a surprise hit.
The programme is no longer on the schedules but ‘JV’ is still on TV. He’s a valued member of BBC’s snooker commentary squad.