World Snooker Championships: What a difference 45 years makes at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre

The eyes of the sporting world are on Sheffield once more as the Crucible Theatre is gripped by its annual snooker drama.

By Julia Armstrong
Friday, 22nd April 2022, 8:37 am
Updated Friday, 22nd April 2022, 1:23 pm

Last year, thousands of fans flocked back to the theatre in Tudor Square under tight Covid restrictions as the World Snooker Championships became a pilot venue for big events.

Now, anyone strolling through the square would be greeted by the whole snooker circus, which these days spills into the Winter Garden as well.

I caught a glimpse the other day of BBC commentator Hazel Irvine doing a piece to camera, avidly watched by fans.

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Cliff Thorburn in action during his semi-final against Dennis Taylor at the first-ever World Professional Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield in April 1977

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In non-Covid years, visitors to the tournament bring in an amazing £1.8m to the city, according to Sheffield Hallam University.

The tournament first came to Sheffield in 1977 and, as these pictures show, it was a far more modest affair 45 years ago – look at the empty seats behind the players. Welcome to Snooker City.

Fans in the auditorium during day 17 of the Betfred World Snooker Championships at the Crucible Theatre on May 3, 2021