Journeyman Stuart Bingham stunned Shaun Murphy to clinch his first-ever Crucible crown, 20 years after turning professional.
The resurgent 38-year-old has been in inspired form at this year’s Betfred World Snooker Championship, dumping out hot favourites Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump on a remarkable run to his first-ever final.
And despite never getting past the quarter-finals in Sheffield, Bingham was not fazed by snooker’s biggest stage as he produced a dazzling display to pocket the £300,000 top prize.
The Essex potter is the oldest first-time winner since Dennis Taylor won that iconic black ball final against Steve Davis 30 years ago.
“Winner, winner, chicken dinner,” beamed a delighted Bingham. “It means everything. Twenty years as a professional, blood sweat and tears on the road - it’s just everything rolled into one.
“I got to two semi-finals in three events before this and I went from strength to strength beating Graeme Dott, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump.
A gracious Murphy, pleased for his great friend, said: “It’s been a great fortnight for me, it’s not finished the way I wanted it to. I gave it my absolute best but I came across an inspired Stuart Bingham.”
Bank Holiday Monday is one of the most anticipated and iconic days on the British sporting calendar, and it didn’t fail to disappoint.
Murphy resumed with a slender 9-8 lead, the closest a world final has been at the halfway stage for 27 years. But Bingham fired in the first four frames of the day to lead for the first time in the match, narrowly missing out on a wonderful 147 opportunity as he just failed to convert the final red.
They shared the next four after the interval as Bingham carried a 14-11 advantage into the evening’s conclusion. Murphy took four of the first five as he fought back to level at 15-15 before a mammoth frame ensued.
Lasting 63 minutes, Bingham had Murphy in a spot of bother, making 38 foul points from a superb snooker, which got him back in the frame. The world No 10 went on to prevail in what would prove a pivotal frame. And Bingham continued to look oblivious to the bright lights and the exceptionally tense atmosphere, slotting in a 55 break to go within one frame of a truly titanic victory. The fist pump followed 12 minutes later, as a break of 88 clinched a classic win - a wonderful fairytale moment for the brilliant Bingham, who managed to hold back the tears that have been on show here in the last few days.