Saturday, 16 April 2011

My Top 3 All-time Snooker matches - #1 Davis Vs Taylor in 1985

In the run-up to this year's 2011 Snooker World Championships, I've been looking back at the history of a sport of which I am a big fan and have chosen my personal top 3 snooker matches of all-time.

I blogged here and here a few weeks ago of my 3rd and 2nd choices, so here now, on the morning of the opening matches of the 2011 World Championships, is the match which for me is the greatest in snooker history.

1985 World Snooker Championship Final
For those who are avid snooker fans, it'll be no great surprise to find that I've chosen the epic that occurred in 1985 between 3 time and current World Champion Steve Davies, and the Northern Irish favourite and 1979 losing finalist Dennis Taylor.

It is of course regarded not just as a seminal moment in the history of snooker but also I would like to think, one of the greatest sporting moments of the 20th century. I would like to explain why in my humble opinion, it is well deserving of this recognition.

Davis was the snooker machine of the 1980s. He had won 3 consecutive titles running into the 1985 final and was the favourite to win a 4th against Taylor who's only previous final appearance was a losing one to Terry Griffiths in 1979.

The final seemed to be going the way of the form book. Davis swept all before him as he white-washed Taylor in the first session 7-0. He then moved 8-0 ahead before the plucky Northern Irishman clawed his way back admirably into the match by winning 6 straight frames in a row to reduce the overnight margin to just 7-9.

There was little between the two during the second day's play but Davies nevertheless opened up a 17-15 lead to leave Taylor needing to win the final frames to win the match. Taylor won the first two of those to force a 35th and final frame.

It would prove to be one of the most dramatic climaxes imaginable. The tension was at fever pitch as both players missed opportunities. Taylor, once again playing catch-up in this crucial decider, pulled out a great long pot on the final brown and then potted the blue and pink to bring the final frame of the final and championsip, down to the very final black ball.

The final frame lasted 68 minutes and in the end, famously of course, after the safety play and the misses on the final black, it was Taylor, to the raturous delight of an enthralled Crucible Theatre crowd, who sunk the black to win a famous and immensly popular first and as it would turn out, only World Championship.

In this case, actions speaks louder than words so watch here, the final stages of that incredible final frame...


Here, watch both Davis and Taylor reflect, years later on what was an incredible match. The comments of those who remember it at the time adds to the fact that this was a moment in sport which had the country hooked to the TV set.

Indeed, the climax of the final in the early hours of that Monday morning was watched by 18.5 million people - which remains a record for BBC2, and also remains a record post-midnight audience for any channel in the United Kingdom.

Full credit for Steve Davis for being able to look back in retrospect and for taking the result in good heart.

That celebration of Taylor's is now almost as famed as the winning pot itself. It was just a delight to watch the emotion after the tension of the proceeding frame.

World 1985 Final - Rematch
Finally, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of that titanic encounter, the two rivals played out a re-match at the Crucible Theatre. The match was played with great humour and it was in itself, a joy to watch!

The total match time of 14 hours 50 minutes was the longest ever recorded for a 35-frame match.

It will surely, never be bettered and will for years to come keep its place in snooker history as the greatest match ever played - no contest!

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