Crucible Magic

6 of the snooker World Championships' most memorable moments

Can you remember when Ken shocked the world in 1997?

IN A FEW short days the 17 day marathon that is the Betfred World Championships will return.

Ahead of the biggest event in the snooker calender, we’re going to look back at some of the historical milestones and memorable moments that have made Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre such a sporting spectacle.

The fastest 147

kiusupunn27 / YouTube

Maximum breaks are hard to come by, especially in world championships. Back in 1997, Ronnie “The Rocket” O’Sullivan made the fastest maximum break in snooker history, five minutes and 20 seconds and averaging 8.8 seconds per shot.

He was rewarded with £147,000 in prize money for the maximum in the first round. He reached his second semi-final that year but would have to wait until 2001 to win his first world title.

The very first maximum break

Nick Broad / YouTube

From the fastest, we go to the very first maximum break. In 1983, Cliff Thorburn created an unforgettable Sheffield moment when he made the Crucible’s first 147.

Thorburn, known as “The Grinder” because of his slow, methodical style, took his time as he potted red after red. Once he had rolled in the black he was embraced by opponent Terry Griffiths and fellow Canadian Bill Werbeniuk, who was playing on the table opposite.

Ken Doherty becomes world champion

Nuno Correia / YouTube

In 1997, Ken Doherty stunned the world by upsetting Stephen Hendry to become world champion. He was the first non-UK player to win since Cliff Thorburn, who had won the title all the way back in 1980.

At the time, Hendry had not lost in 29 matches so very few people gave the Dubliner the chance. Doherty won 18-12.

It was the first time that RTÉ had shown the snooker live and the whole country tuned in to see a truly great Irish sporting moment.

Hendry stuns Jimmy White

siflippant / YouTube

Jimmy “The Whirlwind” White is one of the most popular snooker players to ever pick up the cue. After already losing finals to Steve Davis in 1984, Stephen Hendry in 1990 and John Parrott in 1991, everyone was hoping 1992 was the Londoner’s year.

It looked to be when White opened up 14-8 lead against Hendry in the final. At 14-10, White made a mistake. He was 31 ahead with 35 left on the table and looked comfortable. The he missed a red. That was all the opportunity seven time world champion Hendry needed.

White would have two more chances to win a world title but couldn’t get over the line. He will always be known as the greatest player to never win the big one.

The Eye of the Hurricane

Jason Dalitz / YouTube

Alex “The Hurricane” Higgins was one of the most colourful and beloved characters in snooker. He was known for producing exhibition style shots, like this one against Jimmy White:

M Leonard / YouTube

Higgins would go on to face Ray Reardon, the six-times winner, in the final. The fairytale was to have a happy ending, Higgins completing his 18–15 win over the Welshman with a 135 total clearance.

The images of Higgins in tears, holding both the world trophy and his baby daughter Lauren stays one of the most memorable moments in snooker history.

 The unforgettable final

snookermaximum / YouTube

The 1985 final was an amazing night for snooker, perhaps still it’s greatest to date. As the clock ticked past midnight, 18.5 million people in the UK stayed tuned to BBC2 to watch Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis battle it out.

The match was a great one. Dennis Taylor stood at the table with the match level at 17 frames apiece. Four balls remained in play and Taylor needed them all to win. Could he do it?

This was the golden age of snooker and a remarkable sporting moment.

What’s your favourite memory from the crucible? 

Originally published at 18.08

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