It is 25 years since Dennis Taylor from Coalisland grabbed the attention of a record number of TV viewers as he won the Embassy World Snooker Championship.
Taylor won many titles in his career but is best remembered for his 1985 Embassy World Championship victory. A record 18.5 million people tuned in to watch the conclusion of the match after midnight on BBC television.
When long-standing champion Steve Davis took an 8-0 lead in the first session, it looked as if Taylor would have to settle for the runners-up spot again, but he fought back to trail just 9-7 overnight.
Few could believe the events of the final session as the contest reached its climax. Taylor claimed the title on the final black and became a snooker legend.
Belfast snooker champ Joe Swail said the victory inspired him to go professional.
“I remember the match well,” he said. “I was 15 and I watched the match on a black and white portable TV in our home in Joy Street. There was my mum and dad, my two brothers and my sister. We were all crowded around this 14-inch TV which kept going fuzzy which was very annoying.”
The 40-year-old reached the semi-finals of the World Championships himself in 2000 and 2001. He described the 1985 final as “unbelievable”.
“It was a really big thing not only for Dennis to get to the final but the match was so close between him and Steve. We thought he was going to be annihilated. When he won we started to hear the horns of cars and people came out into the street to celebrate.”
Joe added: “It was a fantastic night. It really put Northern Ireland on the map. I was already an amateur snooker player then. I remember when Higgins won in 1982, that was another great achievement. Then to have someone else coming from the same country a few years later was really inspiring.”
Snooker fans Jim Higginson (67) from Dunmurry and his friend 72-year-old John McAleese from Glenavy reminisced on the match as they played at Frames snooker club in Belfast city centre this week.
“It was a really nail-biting match — edge-of-the-seat stuff,” Jim said. “How many years ago — 25? That's amazing. I was a big fan of Higgins and Taylor.”
Jim, or ‘Higgy’ as his friends call him, was a big Hurricane Higgins fan and used to play for The Pines snooker team in Drumbo, near Lisburn.
“It was extra special that Taylor beat Steve Davis because he was like a robot,” he said. “It was a great achievement for the whole of Ireland and even England, because Taylor lived in Bradford then.”
How to do a Dennis
Here are five simple steps to help Do A Dennis to recreate one of sport’s classic celebration moments.
Step 1: Wait for the hush to descend as you gain |composure.
Step 2: Pot the black.
Step 3: Raise your cue victoriously above your head.
Step 4: Still holding the cue, double punch the air repeatedly in an upwards motion.
Step 5: Smile widely and wag your finger at someone in the crowd.