Belfast Telegraph

The Nugget enjoys an interesting trip down memory lane at the Crucible

By Billy Weir

An hour-long documentary charting 40 years of the World Snooker Championships in Sheffield and presented by Steve Davis? Sounds interesting, and it was.

The Nugget was back on his old stomping ground for The Crucible - 40 Golden Years (although technically 40 is ruby and leaves the Beeb snookered for a title in a decade's time but I am not here to rock the boat) to guide us to this "sedate sport super-heated in this city of steel".

For those of us who cut their snooker teeth in the Eighties, Davis was the man to be hated, cool, ruthless, ginger and unbelievably good with a pointy stick, whereas now he's your best mate and a man who you would love to bore you for hours.

Cliff Thorburn is another who falls into that category, the first of a myriad of well-known faces (and still beautifully moustached) to tell us that "the best moments in snooker have all been at The Crucible" although he pronounced it in Canadian as 'snurker', although that may have been the moustache.

It wasn't just snurker-types on show, it was an eclectic mix of fans of the green baize including Stephen Fry, Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen and perhaps most bizarrely of them all, Nicko McBrain, drummer from popular beat combo Iron Maiden.

But even he couldn't live with the rock and roll shenanigans of the man they called the Hurricane, Alex Higgins, the anti-Davis, and it was a wonderful moment as Steve was joined in The Crucible by the Belfast man's daughter Lauren, to relive the 1982 final when a tearful dad beckoned his wee girl out.

That final in 1985 was relived with Dennis Taylor, there were the Stephen Hendry years which were basically a decade of treating Jimmy White very badly, although the six-time losing finalist did a fair bit of self-inflicted damage.

"I'm quite proud to be in six finals for the way I was progressing in lifestyle I might have been dead," he said, before we turned to another rocket in Ronnie O'Sullivan and his five-minute maximum break.

"Probably the most extraordinary feat anyone ever achieved on a snooker table," said Pointless' Richard Osman, although I remember tales of things Tony Knowles and Kirk Stephens got up to, allegedly, but they may be keeping that for the 50th anniversary show.

Fittingly, the final word went to Barry Hearn, Davis' mentor and now head honcho of World Snooker, who had reassuring words that changes weren't afoot.

"On my tombstone it will not be written 'this is the man who took the World Championships away from The Crucible'. It's staying, I don't care how much is involved and I have never said that in my entire life," he told us. Good news, after all a change isn't always as good as a rest, as they say in snurker.

Belfast Telegraph


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