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Ssb - the forgotten world championship

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  • Ssb - the forgotten world championship

    When people look back, and they often do, at great World Championships, nobody ever mentions 1993.

    The annual Crucible marathon is invariably remembered for its final. Nobody ever fondly recalls the 1993 final.

    Well, with one exception: Stephen Hendry.

    Ask Hendry for his personal best memory from his years of dominance and it isn’t his 1992 comeback win against Jimmy White or his capture of their decider in 1994.

    It’s his win with a session to spare in between. In 1993, he was so much better than everyone else that the tournament became a procession. Hendry beat White 18-5. There was no late night drama, just a series of repeats to fill the BBC2 schedule (whatever the equivalent of 'Coast' was back then).

    This was an exciting time to be young: John Major was prime minister, Eldorado had replaced Terry Wogan's chatshow and the rise of 2 Unlimited showed no signs of abating.

    Against this life-affirming backdrop, a young Scotsman was dominating snooker.

    The first thing to say about the 1993 World Championship is that the qualifiers were played closer to the previous year’s event, in September 1992.

    This helped produce an eclectic field of players in some cases rarely seen since.

    There was Spencer Dunn. There was John Giles. There was Shaun Mellish.

    There was Karl Payne, a blond West Midlander who sported three different haircuts for his match against Martin Clark and later appeared on Stars in Their Eyes as Rick Astley.

    There was also Ronnie O’Sullivan, just 16 when he qualified, who won ten matches to reach the Crucible.

    O’Sullivan lost 10-7 in the first round to Alan McManus, a creditable performance given that McManus was one of the title favourites.

    Indeed, on day one of the event, the BBC’s David Vine wrote his pick as to who would be champion in a sealed envelope to be revealed on the final day (there was no Twitter, indeed barely an internet).

    McManus was his choice. BBC integrity still being highly prized in those days, Vine duly unsealed the envelope during the final, just before introducing a montage put together by the ‘back room boys’.

    How much simpler these times were.

    Because the qualifiers had been held months before the final stages, many of the players who made it to Sheffield were in fact out of form by the time the tournament began on April 17.

    There were a slew of runaway victories in the first round with seven of the 16 matches finishing 10-4 or under.

    Hendry ran through Danny Fowler 10-1. Fowler had been a dustman in a previous life and was later reported to be driving a pick-up truck on a maggot farm.

    Steve Davis, still very much a contender, gained revenge on Peter Ebdon for his defeat in the first round the previous year but came unstuck against McManus in the last 16, although not before he made the highest break at the Crucible for the fourth and last time with his 144.

    A Hendry-White final was again on the cards. White saw off Joe Swail, Doug Mountjoy, Dennis Taylor and James Wattana to reach his fifth world final.

    Hendry reached the semi-finals having lost only 12 frames in three matches. In the last four, he faced McManus. To mark this all Scottish affair the players were led into the arena before one session by a lone bagpiper.

    These days it would probably be some Herbert doing the Gangnam Style dance but there was no Youtube in 1993 and somehow we coped.

    The second session proved key here. From 4-4, Hendry pulled away to lead 10-5 and won 16-9.

    And so it was Hendry v White again, but this time there was no drama. Hendry won the first session 5-2 and the second 7-2. He won six of the seven frames on the third afternoon to leave the evening with no snooker at all.

    He made three centuries and ten half centuries in the final. Hendry had made eight of the 35 centuries recorded in the final stages.

    This is 20 years ago but of the 32 players who comprised the final stages, only seven – O'Sullivan, White, McManus, Davis, Ebdon, Nigel Bond and Tony Drago – are still on the circuit.

    Two, Clark and Gary Wilkinson, now work for World Snooker’s tournament team. Many of the others have drifted away from snooker.

    The 1993 World Championship wasn’t regarded as a vintage tournament. It doesn’t feature in lists of great snooker moments.

    But it marked perhaps the high watermark of Hendry’s dominance of the game’s greatest event this is reason enough to remember it.


  • #2
    I remember this championship well. Stephen was relentless throughout making break after break. I think the tone for the final was set in the very first frame. Jimmy broke off, Hendry stroked in long red, holding for the black & cleared the table with 136. I don't think a total clearance has ever been made in the first frame of a world final before or since.


    • #3
      20 years later only seven player are active. In which other sport would we see 7 players active 20 years later ? I know cuesports differ from most other sports regarding age, but still.
      ....its not called potting its called snooker. Quote: WildJONESEYE
      "Its called snooker not potting" Quote: Rory McLeod