The World Snooker Championship is on our doorstep, which gives us the perfect opportunity to show you our top five greatest moments in the history of the Crucible.
Dennis Taylor pots the last black of the final frame to win the championship –
The 1985 world final was the most thrilling of the history. Dennis Taylor faced Steve Davis, world number one, reigning world champion and the dominant player of the 1980’s. Taylor trailed 8–0 after the first session, but bounced back to trail 7–9 and 15–17 and then level at 17–17. In an incredibly tense final frame, the score was 62–44 to Davis with only the brown, blue, pink and black still on the table. While Davis needed only the brown, Taylor needed all the colours.
He potted a long brown, which he says is one of his best ever under pressure shot. A tricky blue and a difficult pink also went in, bringing the score to 62–59 to ensure that, for the first time ever, the title would be decided on the black ball. Taylor eventually potted the black after Davis had missed a tricky cut into the top pocket and, amid euphoric scenes watched by over 18 million viewers well after midnight on live BBC television, the Irishman finally took the lead on the final play having trailed Davis throughout the match to lift the much-coveted cup at the relatively advanced age of 36.
Ronnie O’Sullivan with the fastest ever 147 break –
On April 21st- 1997, the young Ronnie O’Sullivan was playing against Mick Price in the first round of the World Snooker Championship. Ronnie was leading 8-5 when Price has left a red ball after playing a very bad safety, the rest is history. With his rapid playing style Ronnie made a century in less than four minutes, and the fastest ever maximum break- Five minutes and twenty seconds, unbelievable.
“At the time, you don’t really realize, you are just seeing these balls floating in,” remembers John Virgo, who commentated on the game for the BBC. “And they were floating in — it wasn’t crash, bang, wallop stuff. He hit the ball so sweetly, it was just poetry. When somebody came up and said it was five minutes and 20 seconds, you just went: ‘Wow!’ I don’t think anyone will ever beat that time for a maximum break. It was just a sensational moment in the game.”
Cliff Thorburn – The first ever 147 break at the Crucible –
“The Grinder” first started to play professional snooker in the early 70’s, moving from Canada to the UK in order to improve his game. Thorburn was the first player from outside of the UK to win the World Championship (1980), after beating the great Alex Higgins 18-16 in the final. In 1983 Cliff Thorburn became the first player to make a maximum break at the World Snooker Championship, playing against Terry Griffiths in the second round of the World Championship.
It all started with a fluke on the red ball after Griffiths left an easy shot to the corner. The score was already 2-1 to “The Grinder” and all he wanted was to win the fourth frame. Back then, no one at the Crucible could have imagined a maximum break. Excitement was in the air, rippling through the audience, the commentators and even players from the other table who stopped their match, but not for Cliff. After potting fourteen red balls with thirteen black balls, Thorburn decided to have a short break to wipe his face and dry his sweaty hands. What a guy. Cliff Thorburn potted fifteen red balls with fifteen black balls and continued to the colored balls to complete a remarkable 147 break.
The Hurricane strikes once again in the 1982 final –
“The people’s champions” Alex Higgins first was a world champion in 1972 after beating John Spencer in the final 37-32, to become the youngest ever world champion at the age of 22, a record retained until Stephen Hendry’s 1990 victory at the age of 21. His first world final at the Crucible was in 1980 versus Cliff Thorburn, he finished has the runner up losing 18-16, after being 9-5 up. In 1982 final the Hurricane met the six-time world champion Ray Reardon.
Higgins won the world title for a second time after beating Reardon 18–15 including a superb 135 clearance in the final frame, it was an emotional as well as professional victory for him. With tears in his eyes, the Hurricane had his 17-month-old baby daughter Lauren on one arm and the World Championship trophy on the other — the Crucible had never seen anything like it before.
The youngest ever World Champion –
The 1989/90 season was the beginning of Hendry’s period of dominance. That season, he won the UK Championship, Dubai Classic, Scottish Maters, Wembly Masters and also his first World Championship (out of his seven world titles), to be the youngest ever World Champion at the age of 21 and 106 days. His 1990 final opponent was the great Jimmy white.
Hendry led 9-7 at the end of the first day and started the second day winning four consecutive frames to lead 13-7, before White reduces the gap to four frames. At 16-12 The King of Crucible produced breaks of 81 and 71 to win the match 18-12 and to win his first World Championship at the age of 21 years old. The young Hendry gained £120,000 for his great victory.