Ten years after his maiden success Murphy aiming to pot second UK title

Shaun Murphy
Shaun Murphy
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Shaun Murphy cues off in York this week looking to celebrate in style the 10th anniversary of his UK Championship triumph.

Rather surprisingly for a player of his undoubted talent, the 36-year-old has lifted the UK title just once in a career which has seen him win most things the sport has to offer.

His greatest moment was when Murphy – living in Rotherham at the time – stunned the sporting world to win the World Championship at the Crucible back in 2005.

In 2015 he would win the Masters to complete snooker’s Triple Crown – winning the sport’s three top tournaments.

But it is now 10 years since Murphy tasted victory in the UK Championship.

He beat Hong Kong’s Marcu Fu 10-9 in a nail-biting final at the Telford International Centre.

Leading 5-3 at the interval, Fu battled back to 6-6 before taking a 9-8 lead.

But Murphy refused to buckle, restoring parity once more, before a fluke on the pink finally saw him over the winning line for his only UK crown.

After the pressure which came from being world champion – and dealing with that at such a tender age – winning another major ranking event was something of a relief for Murphy.

“It’s been a while and I’ve never felt pressure like that,” Murphy, who had breaks of 73, 77, 87 and 99, reflected afterwards.

“That was worse than the world title in 2005 because it has been such a long time since I was competing for a title.

“That was the worst match we’ve both played this tournament but that just goes to show the pressure we were under.”

Fu added: “I never really settled and Shaun was winning frames in one visit and I wasn’t really scoring enough.

“I was surprised to win nine frames because I didn’t play well under pressure and Shaun did.”

Over the last decade Murphy has twice come close to adding a second UK title.

But he has fallen at the final hurdle both times. In 2012 he came up against the formidable Mark Selby, losing 10-6.

And 12 months ago, Murphy once more went all the way to the final, but found his path to silverware blocked as Ronnie O’Sullivan banked his sixth UK Championship, drawing level with the legendary Steve Davis on tournament wins.

“It seems like a long time ago since I won.

“A lot has happened since then and there’s a lot of water under the bridge,” reflected Murphy 12 months ago.

“Every now and again I see social media posts saying that I won it on a fluked pink!

“I think they forget about the other 18 frames.

“Since then I’ve lost in a final and a couple of semi-finals but this is an event that I would dearly love to win again. But having already won it, I guess the pressure isn’t quite as strong.”

It means Murphy returns to York this week – one of his favourite tournament cities, with a festive feel in the run-up to Christmas – eager to atone.

The UK Championship moved to York’s Barbican back in 2001, its traditional home being Preston’s Guild Hall, where it was first staged in 1978.

The first UK Championship was 12 months prior to that, when Patsy Fagan beat Doug Mountjoy 12-9 at Blackpool’s Tower Circus.

The tournament moved away from the Barbican for four years between 2007-10, before returning to York in 2011, and is now only second to the Crucible and the World Championship on the snooker calendar, in terms of prestige.

The Betway UK Championship runs from Tuesday November 27 to Sunday December 9. Tickets are still available and start at just £8. For details visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets or 0844 854 2757