Legends share memories of the ‘home of snooker’ as they prepare to battle it out at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre

Former greats of snooker shared their memories of Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre as they prepared to roll back the years and take part in the World Seniors Championship at the venue.

By Sam Cooper
Wednesday, 14 August, 2019, 15:45

The ROKiT World Senior Snooker Championship will begin this morning as 20 players from 13 countries, including Yorkshire's only-ever world champion Joe Johnson and seven-time winner Stephen Hendry battle it out.

The event is being held 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.

John Parrott, who was crowned world champion at The Crucible in 1991, said: “I have just driven down here and I’ve come off the M1 and my hands were sweating, they were sticking to the wheel when I saw the Crucible Theatre.

Cliff Thorburn, Joe Johnson, Stuart Wilson, Stephen Hendry and John Parrott. Picture: Steve Ellis

“As soon as you see this building it’s just amazing because there are so many memories and it’s such a big part of snooker players’ lives. It was always the culmination of the season and it holds so many stories.”

Mr Parrott said he had been training at his golf club but added that ‘there was nothing like playing in a match, especially at the Crucible’.

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

Mr Thorne, who has never played as part of a single table format at The Crucible, said: “I haven't played for 16 years but up until a couple of years ago I was part of the commentary team for the World Championship but still, coming into Sheffield, even though I lived here for seven years, it still gives me an amazing buzz. It will always be the home of snooker, whatever happens.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“Sheffield was my home for seven or eight years and I saw it grow and be developed in that time. It’s a great sporting city, with two good football clubs.”

Cliff Thorburn, who became the first overseas player to win at the Crucible in 1980, told of his memories of the night.

He said: “I remember getting back to the hotel and two of my friends never made it back to their rooms, thy were just slumped in front of the doors to their rooms.

“I’ve got some great memories of this place and I just feel privileged and honoured to be here.”

Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, said as well as offering former champions the chance to roll back the years, the tournament would also provide players who never competed at the Crucible the chance to take to the baize in Sheffield.

He said: “I think we are going to have a lot of fun but it’s actually quite emotional as well because you know in the life of every snooker player it is a dream to walk down those steps at the Crucible.

“As a young lad growing up, I dreamt about it and was lucky enough to do it but the tournament has got a great mix of players who won multiple championships here as well as those who just missed out on playing here.”

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