Crucible champions to celebrate 40th anniversary in Sheffield

Republic of Ireland's Ken Doherty during the Betfred.com World Snooker Championships at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, back in 2012.

Republic of Ireland's Ken Doherty during the Betfred.com World Snooker Championships at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, back in 2012.

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Snooker champions from the last four decades will descend on Sheffield next month as the Crucible Theatre celebrates the 40th anniversary of staging the World Championship.

The first Championship was staged in the Steel City in 1977 – when John Spencer beat Cliff Thorburn 25-21 – and over the years, the Crucible has become synonymous with snooker.

I remember watching all those great players at the Crucible with my dad, when he was alive, people like Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor. I think it will make this year’s World Championship very special.

Former world champion, Ken Doherty.

Now, World Snooker and Sheffield City Council will stage a special presentation night on Friday, April 14 at the Crucible.

It will feature former world champions, plus current players, in live interviews and archive footage of some of the best Crucible moments.

From Alex Higgins celebrating the title with his baby in his arms in 1982, to Dennis Taylor’s epic black-ball final in 1985, and Ronnie O’Sullivan’s fastest 147 of all time in 1997.

Ken Doherty, the 1997 world champion who will compete in the qualifiers next month to try and clinch a Crucible spot, believes the milestone occasion will only add to the World Championship magic this year.

“It’s incredible and the Crucible is just such a fantastic place,” said Doherty. “I am really looking forward to the anniversary celebrations and to see so many previous world champions in Sheffield.

“I remember watching all those great players at the Crucible with my dad, when he was alive, people like Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor. I think it will make this year’s World Championship very special.”

Doherty will have to win three qualifying rounds, starting April 5, at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge to secure a Crucible return.

Now 47, the Dubliner – who reached Crucible finals in 1997, 1998 and 2003 – admits the qualifiers are gruelling.

“They are very tough,” he admitted. “Apart from the quality of the players you play from the first match, you have the pressure of trying to get to the Crucible.”

The anniversary evening on Friday April 14 starts at 6pm, and tickets priced £20 – with a donation going to South Yorkshire’s Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice – are on sale now, on 0844 6565147.

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