Former greats of snooker to battle it out as Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre hosts second tournament of the year

Sheffield will cement its place as the home of snooker when former greats of the game take to the baize at the Crucible Theatre next month.

By Sam Cooper
Tuesday, 09 July, 2019, 18:31

The city will play host to the ROKiT World Seniors Snooker as 20 players including Yorkshire's only-ever world champion Joe Johnson and seven-time winner Stephen Hendry battle out between August 15 and 18.

The event will take place at the Crucible Theatre, which has been home to the World Championship since 1977 and will also include dedicated women’s and disability snooker sessions.

Jason Francis, chairman of ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Tour, said: “I think there are certain places in certain sport that become hallowed ground. In football you’ve got Wembley and with snooker it’s always been the Crucible Theatre.

“Anyone who has grown up liking the sport, the ultimate place to watch or play snooker is the Crucible. The Seniors Tour is now in its second year so it feels right to bring the championships here.”

Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association; Simon Berrisford, vice chairman of World Disability Billiards and Snooker; joined Reanne Evans, ladies’ world champion and Daniel Blunn, who competes in the World Disability Billiards and Snooker competitions and Mr Francis and Mr Johnson for the tournament draw at Crucible Corner on Tuesday.

Competitors will also include Willie Thorne, Tony Knowles, 1980 world champion Cliff Thorburn and Dennis Taylor.

Joe Johnson was crowned World Snooker champion in 1986.

Mr Francis said: “We have to thank Sheffield Council for showing a vision and for making it happen. It's important for our championships to be played there but it’s equally important for us to give the opportunity for the women’s and disability game to play at the Crucible.”

Mr Johnson, who was a surprise winner of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible in 1986 before reaching the final again in 1987, said he was looking forward to playing at the famous venue once again.

He was also victorious in the World Senior Masters in Sheffield in April.

He said: “It's a really special place for me. The people come from across Yorkshire to support me and it was a great day when I won the Masters here.

Jimmy White and Stephen Hendry pictured after the World Snooker Championship in 1990. Both will take part in the tournament.

“Sheffield is great because it’s a vibrant city and I really enjoy coming here. The Seniors game can only go from strength to strength and having the Crucible behind us and having the tournament played here along with the World Championship gives it real credibility.”

Richard Eyre, Sheffield Council’s head of city centre and major events, said the tournament offered the city the chance to ‘shout’ about its snooker links.

He said: “Obviously we have had the World Snooker Championship for many years and have secured it for many more years but we have been saying for some time that we have got to shout about it.

“Inwardly we are very pride but we don’t shout abou it and this is part of that.”

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Cliff Thorburn won the title in 1980.

For more information or to buy tickets visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

THE TOURNAMENT DRAW

Last 32

Willie Thorne vs Darren Morgan

Tony Drago vs Dene O’Kane

James Wattana vs Wael Talaat

Tony Knowles vs Chen Gang

Last 16

Aaron Canavan vs Au Chi Wai

Leo Fernandez vs Joris Maas

John Parrott vs winner of Thorne vs Morgan

Stephen Hendry vs winner of Drago vs O’Kane

Joe Johnson vs winner of Wattana vs Talaat

Cliff Thorburn vs winner of Knowles vs Gang

Dennis Taylor vs Stuart Watson

Jimmy White vs Rhydian Richards