Since 1977 the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield has staged the snooker World Championship and in that time become one of the most beloved and iconic venues in sport. In this book the UK’s leading snooker writer Hector Nunns makes his selection of the greatest matches ever played in the famous amphithea
Alex Higgins was snooker’s first great anti-hero, an innately talented snooker player whose machine-gun potting style helped point the sport towards its boom years of the 1980s. He was “the people’s champion”.
Most would prefer to remember Higgins as the one-time boy snooker hustler, nicknamed “Hurricane” because of the speed of his play, who became a sporting superstar. In his prime, whomever he might have been playing, he was able to command the spotlight in a manner no other snooker player has – Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan included.
Higgins’s 1972 triumph came in his first attempt to win snooker’s grandest and most exacting tournament. At the age of 22, he became the youngest man to lift the trophy. While the prize-money was hardly luxurious, it did at least help him find somewhere to live.
Higgins came to be known as the “People’s Champion” because of his popularity and is often credited with having brought the game of snooker to a wider audience, contributing to its peak in popularity in the 1980s. He had a reputation as an unpredictable and difficult character. He was a heavy smoker, struggled with drinking and gambling, and admitted to using cocaine and marijuana. First diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998, Higgins died of multiple causes in his Belfast home on 24 July 2010. Higgins still holds the highest break to win a World Championship, being 135 in the 1982 final against Ray Reardon.
Ronnie O’Sullivan was born 5 December 1975 and is an English professional snooker player from Chigwell, Essex, known for his rapid playing style.
He is seen by many observers of the game as the greatest natural talent in snooker history.
He made his first century break at age 10 and his first maximum break at age 15. He turned professional in 1992, at the age of 16, and soon earned the nickname “The Rocket”.
He won the 1993 UK Championship at the age of 17 years and 358 days, becoming the youngest player ever to win a professional ranking tournament, a record he still holds. He is also the youngest player ever to have won the Masters, having captured his first title in 1995 at the age of 19 years and 69 days.
O’Sullivan’s record in Triple Crown events stands at five World Championship, five Masters, and five UK Championship titles. He is fourth behind Stephen Hendry, Ray Reardon, and Steve Davis on the list of players who have won the most World Championships in the modern era. He is third on the list of players who have won the most ranking titles, with 27.
With career earnings of over £8 million, he is second after Hendry on snooker’s all-time prize-money list. He was ranked world number one for five seasons between 2002/2003 and 2009/2010. His other achievements include ten Premier League titles and winning the Nations Cup with England in 2000. Known as a prolific break-builder, O’Sullivan is second behind Hendry on the list of players making the most competitive century breaks, with a total of 770.
He holds the record for the most ratified maximum breaks in professional competition, with 13. At the 1997 World Championship, he set the record for the fastest competitive maximum break at 5 minutes 20 seconds.
The most naturally gifted and all round best of all time.
Stephen Hendry was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 13th January 1969 and in 1985 became the youngest professional snooker player at the grand age of 16. He has been regarded as one of the greatest players of snooker winning his first world championship at the age of 21 in 1990. He has regained this title 7 times which is not an easy task in the modern game with many new players joining the circuit.
He has also held the record major title wins over his playing years with a grand total of 36 victories.
Between 1990 and 1998 he had the distinction of being the world’s no.1 player and this was repeated between 2006 to 2007. In 1994 he was awarded the MBE and in the UK he was voted Scottish sports personality of the year on two occasions.
He retired as a professional player in 2012 but he is still often seen on the TV commentating on major tournaments.
Only Steve Davis has won more professional titles than Stephen Hendry.
“The best player ever to pick up a snooker cue” – Ronnie O’Sullivan