Happy birthday to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, which opened its doors 40 years ago today.

It has been the host venue of the World Championship since 1977. Mike Watterson, the promoter back then, had been looking for a new place to hold the tournament and his late wife, Carol, returned home from seeing a play at the Crucible and mentioned it could be ideal.

The rest really is history...rich history. So many iconic images and moments that have fascinated, thrilled and shocked spectators and television viewers.

It is in many ways an unlikely sporting venue: a provincial theatre on a street in the middle of Sheffield city centre.

But snooker is an unlikely television favourite. The significance of the World Championship rapidly grew after that 1977 event but the Crucible very quickly seemed to gel with what made TV snooker special.

When I first went there to watch as a boy the Crucible was a rather shabby building and I couldn’t believe how small the actual playing arena was.

When I began working there I realised how cramped it was backstage and how little room there was to actually play out on the floor of the theatre.

But in fact this has been the Crucible’s great strength: the claustrophobic atmosphere it creates. Snooker is a mentally demanding sport and the oppressive, uncomfortable Crucible arena has seen many an implosion down the years.

Recently the Crucible has been refurbished but has lost none of its allure for snooker fans. For many, the trip to Sheffield is an annual pilgrimage of an almost religious kind.

The tournament is guaranteed to continue there until at least 2015. After that, who knows?

Market forces dictate most decisions in the world of business but I rather agree with Steve Davis, who has played on snooker’s most famous stage a record 30 times. He said that there would have to be a very good reason to throw away all the history associated with the Sheffield theatre.

Time will tell. For now, happy birthday to the Crucible, a theatre of snooker dreams and of nightmares, the one venue where everyone wants to play, a hallowed ground for players and fans, and a house of wonderful snooker memories.


Anonymous said...

It's a dump, they should hold it some place decent. It reflects badly on the sport.

Anonymous said...


What nonsense,its not a dump,its very recently had a good refurb.And to say it reflects badly on the sport ??! its the focal point of the years snooker,and much praised by many a fan and player.A negative comment,I think you must be trolling.

Anonymous said...

526, quite obviously (s)he is trolling.

ok, the crucible might not be to everyones liking, but it is far far from a dump.

its steeped with history and tradition and its recent refurb has seen it become that bit more up to date with the tastes of the 10's

Anonymous said...

The Crucible is great, but it needs to provide decent food.

Jules said...

It's a dump, they should hold it some place decent. It reflects badly on the sport.

What are you on??
A typical pathetic comment that we see on here,sadly too often.
Please don't post if you have nothing decent to say.

Anyone who follows/watches snooker must experience this place,the atmosphere it creates is like nothing else.

I do agree about the food,they could make the offering better and thus take more.

I have been to various venues,this one is so intimate with the players on top of the crowd,the ref can hear sweet papers rustle 10 rows back!

Long live the Cruicble,you get the goose bumps going in each year.
Good article Dave,keep up the good work :)

147 said...

The crucible is hallowed ground and should always remain so i could,nt possible imagine the championship held elsewhere no matter what the reason.The history of the modern game was created there.It is to snooker what croke park is to gaelic sports, it is to snooker what wimbledon is to tennis, it is to snooker what wenbley is to football."Market forces" what trivial things we speak of where dreams are made.

Anonymous said...

Hearn will dispose of the Crucible if he can get a few extra quid somewhere else. Tradition and history mean nothing to him - look what he's done to the UK. But it might not be all doom and gloom for the great place. There'll probably be 30 PTCs by then so they may have one at the Crucible and to try and give it some prestige it will be named after someone in the snooker world recently deceased.

Anonymous said...

Yes Crucible food is cheap and nasty

Anonymous said...

Looking at the qualifiers for the UK it's a good job it is best of 11: best of 17 would be a series of walkovers

Colin M said...

Like the retirement of Concorde, the Crucible also took a step back by closing its very nice on-site restaurant as part of the refurbishment. Other than that, it's definitely part of snooker history and the world championship should not be moved.

Anonymous said...

i bet those complaining about the crucible food have never had a kfc, a mikkydees, a burger king etc, or ate out from a chippy or a chinese.

yet they all want 5 star food from a food outlet whilst there to watch snooker

nothing quite as queer as folk

Witz78 said...

Not allowing fans in with alcohol always annoys me. Theres plenty of stewards there (including my good friend Mark) so if anyone was too rowdy they could be warned or ejected, but to not even give fans the option is ridiculous. No coincidence that in the evening the bar / bookies area of the Crucible gets busier and busier as more people sacrifice the snooker to mingle in the bar with other fans.

Anonymous said...

"Looking at the qualifiers for the UK it's a good job it is best of 11: best of 17 would be a series of walkovers"

Well that's one way of looking at it. The other way is in a best of 17 there is less pressure when the opponent goes 2 or 3 frames ahead and more chance to get into the match and let the match play out with good a story and a conclusion including more psychological tests such as dealing with a big lead and comebacks which you don't get in best of 11.

Anonymous said...

Witz, we all saw what happened when they let the audience near beer at Power Snooker. This is Britain, not Germany or France; home of the drunken lout.

Anonymous said...

I think that long term market forces will play a part - Hearn only kept the PDC worlds at the Circus Tavern until demand for tickets justified moving it to a bigger venue. WC is the only event where ticket sales are oversubscribed and where Hearn could justify moving to a bigger venue.

To me, it should be like St Andrews is to the Open - the acknowledged home of the sport, and the tournament held still held there, but only every 2 or 3 years in rotation with other venues. The Worlds are the only event the general public are interested in, and it makes no sense not to hold it in bigger and more prestigious venues. As time goes on there has got to be a case for the World Championship to be held in London or China,

Anonymous said...

It's money money and MORE money that appeals to Hearn. He doesn't care WHERE an event is held and long as it lines his pockets. If he can get a better deal (even if it means making an extra penny), he'll move it. He is not a nice person.

Dave H said...

He's actually extended the Crucible deal since becoming World Snooker chairman

Anonymous said...

St Andrews is the home of golf; Wembley the home of football; Wimbledon the home of tennis; Lord's the home of cricket; The Crucible the home of snooker; Silverstone the home of Formula One...do people in other countries acknowledge Britain as the home of the world's entire sporting culture?

Anonymous said...

We must NEVER leave the Crucible.

I never bought into the whole thing about it being run-down. So what if there isn't much room outside the arena, and nowhere good to eat - there's the whole of Sheffield city centre right outside the door.

The arena itself is fine for two tables, and just perfect for the one table situation, creating a unique atmosphere.

It's been good enough to stage a wonderful sporting spectacle for the last 35 years, the last 14 of which I've been to, so there's no reason why it shouldn't be considered good enough now and into the future.

wild said...

Witz, we all saw what happened when they let the audience near beer at Power Snooker. This is Britain, not Germany or France; home of the drunken lout.

yes and the biggest drunken lout of them all is witz :-)

seriously any decition of taking the championship from the crucible has to be thought through.

taking it to a bigger venue would be a shambolic if its not the right venue bigger is not neceseraly right.

the UK in preston was symbolic then its been all over the place and nowhere quite worked hopefully the new barbican will work for the UK.

the masters lost the conference centre it was never the same at the Arena.

Anonymous said...


i go there for the snooker

i like a drink

i like a bet

i can go to the snooker and enjoy myself entirely without the others

maybe you think the others enhance your snooker experience.

i dont need them all at once

Witz78 said...

Your loss then. The Crucible experience is about far more than just flashing ur ticket, shuffling up the stairs then getting a sore backside watching wall to wall snooker from dawn to dusk.
If they allowed alcohol into the arena, then id be in there far more but as it is id rather drift in and out for the critical parts of matches. Im quite happy to hang out at the bar / bookies area or soak up the sun watching the big screen in Tudor Square instead as theres a great buzz and atmosphere in these places plus its good 2b able to talk about the action to mates as it happens.
I always treat my annual trip 4 the 1st week of the Worlds as a holiday with as much emphasis on wine, women and song than just watching snooker.
The tournament in terms of viewing and getting properly into always starts for me in the 2nd week when i get home as i find snooker a far better watch on tv than live in the arena.

Anonymous said...

witz. its not my loss. its MY CHOICE and nature that i dont get drunk before i go / when at events etc..


now, because YOU SAY that things should be the way YOU LIKE THEM doesnt mean everyone thinks that.


open your eyes and youll see that. then again, you seem to think the world revolves around you. try posting a general opinion instead of a personal one and ASSUMIN everyone feels your way.

Witz78 said...

Id sooner wear my heart on my sleeve and post a personal opinion.
Whats the point of forums like this if everyone plays it safe and posts the same general opinions? Ah yeh that would be politically correct plus ensure there was no need for real debate.
Each to their own, ill do it my way, you do it yours. I find it hard to believe if ur a drinker and gambler like u claim, that u dont partake in these activities at all when at the snooker though.
Infact id go as far to say that there seems to be a goody goody bunch within the snooker community whod sooner see the game only watched and followed by pensioners and geeks rather than 'risks' like me. Well, with the growth of snooker, it being the 21st century plus all the new fan orientated events like Shootout etc, the tide is changing.

Anonymous said...

i didnt say you couldnt have a personal opinion

i said having a personal opinion and assuming everyone feels your way.

they dont, thankfully.

hopefully next time youll read what i typed and reply accordingly instead of misreading/making up what i typed


Happy birthday to The Crucible Theatre. As an obsessive snooker fan, Myself, I would like to personally thank all Crucible staff, that have worked and do wok there. Not least since 1977, When snooker's main event, It's World Professional Championship, for making this event as successful as it has been since then, and, I hope, always will. The Crucible. The home of snookr's premier professional event since 1977. I hope the event is played here forever. I am sure that that vast majority of asll snooker fans, worldwide, would agree with this statement.

aaron john said...

first of all happy birthday to the crucible theatre.Its a very unique feeling to wish a theatre for birthday.I agree to you since this is the home os snookers professionals since 1977 and for snookers fans its really good...
sporting venues