13.8.08

TEN GREATEST MOMENTS IN SNOOKER HISTORY: 1

And so we reach the end of the ten greatest moments countdown with the reveal of what I consider to be no.1.

First, here's a reminder of 10-2:

10) Terry Griffiths wins world title at first attempt
9) Doug Mountjoy wins second UK title ten years after first
8) Pot Black first broadcast
7) Ding beats Hendry to win China Open
6) Hendry beats White...again
5) Steve Davis makes first televised 147
4) Alex Higgins wins second world title
3) Ronnie O'Sullivan makes maximum in record time
2) Taylor beats Davis on final black

And the winner is...



1999 - STEPHEN HENDRY WINS RECORD SEVENTH WORLD TITLE

As spur of the moment presents go it must rank as the most inspired choice ever.

Stephen Hendry received his 6x3 table at Christmas 1981. Four years later he was on the professional circuit.

He first competed at the Crucible in 1986. Four years after this he became the youngest ever world champion and remains so to this day.

This in itself is worthy of inclusion in this list but to end the decade as he began it by winning a seventh world title – a record in the modern age – beats anything else.

When Hendry lost to Ken Doherty in the 1997 final and then to Jimmy White in the first round in 1998 there were those who wondered if he had entered into a decline.

Certainly his 9-0 hammering by Marcus Campbell in the first round of the 1998 UK Championship boosted the view that his best years were behind him.

But like Steve Davis, Hendry possesses the same rare inner steel only found in great champions and went back to the drawing board, determined to rebuild his game and prove everyone wrong.

He faced one of the toughest possible fields at the Crucible in 1999.

In the first round he was pitted against the rising star Paul Hunter, who led 8-7 before Hendry won 10-8.

James Wattana, still very dangerous, was his second round opponent and held Hendry to 7-7 before the Scot won the last six frames to win 13-7.

In the quarter-finals, he overwhelmed the talented Matthew Stevens 13-5 before the match of the tournament against Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Commentating for the BBC, Clive Everton described the third session as “snooker from the Gods.”

That it was. Both players were on top of their games. Hendry made three centuries, O’Sullivan two, agonisingly missing the pink on 134 with a maximum waiting.

In the end, it came down to a test of nerve. Hendry was stronger when it mattered and went through 17-13.

His opponent in the final was Mark Williams, who had won three ranking titles that season.

Hendry raced into a 4-0 lead and would win 18-11 to end the 1990s as he had begun it – as king of the snooker world.

It was the realisation of years of effort, commitment and belief. At times in the 90s he played better than anyone has ever played and has continued to play to a very high standard into the 21st century.

Ultimately there is only one test of greatness in sport: what have you won?

Stephen Hendry has won more of what counts in the modern era than anyone else.

At his best, he was the best.

That night in 1999 he confirmed his status as the greatest player who ever lived.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dave,

Regardless of the fact that I've always been a Hendry fan I really think you hit the nail right on the head here.

I'll be the first to admit that both White and O'Sullivan are more naturally gifted, the latter truly being a genius when he's firing, but when it comes down to it...Hendry's been there, done it, AND got ALL the t-shirts, more than once.

Having said that he's perhaps not the most naturally gifted player around though, it's perhaps worht pointing out one of his first ever Crucible matches (1987 I believe). Find it on youtube, read the comments and you find that even some of the most dedicated White and O'Sullivan fans have to agree that EVEN Hendry can play very attractive and fast snooker.

Just my 2 cents',
Jurgen.

Dave H said...

I think people get confused between 'natural talent' and 'flair'

Hendry was playing at the Crucible just over four years after first picking up a cue: this is an indicator of supreme natural talent

What he's never really had is the flair of an Alex, Jimmy or Ronnie but I doubt he'd swap any of his titles or records for this

Incidentally, I've never understoof why people can't be fans of Hendry and O'Sullivan instead or one or the other

Monique said...

But Dave ... they can. In my eyes Hendo is the ultimate warrior and his run in the recent Crucible has proved it once again. Ronnie ... is the artist of snooker: when in touch he's the one who expresses best the geometrical beauty of the game. I enjoy both, even if I have a preference for Ronnie, the person ... for personal reasons.

Anonymous said...

Great work Dave, but for me I would have put Taylor and Davis' black ball final as number 1, and I'd have found somewhere on the list for Williams and Hendry's respotted black in the Masters.

Dave H said...

Monique - good to hear that and I'm sure it's the view of most fans, however I have read some rather unpleasant comments about Hendry from a few O'Sullivan 'fans' that I know Ronnie himself wouldn't agree with

Nothing wrong with rivalry as long as it's kept friendly

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with this as the greatest moment. Hendry's achievements are often unfairly overlooked. It's a little like Pete Sampras in tennis whose seven Wimbledon titles are similarly overlooked. The longevity and consistency of Hendry is simply extraordinary.

João Esteves da Silva said...

Marvelous post Dave.

Crystal Gayle said...

Couldn't be said any better! Good job Dave.

QUOTE [Dave H said...

I think people get confused between 'natural talent' and 'flair'

Hendry was playing at the Crucible just over four years after first picking up a cue: this is an indicator of supreme natural talent

What he's never really had is the flair of an Alex, Jimmy or Ronnie but I doubt he'd swap any of his titles or records for this

Incidentally, I've never understoof why people can't be fans of Hendry and O'Sullivan instead or one or the other.]