21.2.13

THE FORGOTTEN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

When people look back, and they often do, at great World Championships, nobody ever mentions 1993.

The annual Crucible marathon is invariably remembered for its final. Nobody ever fondly recalls the 1993 final.

Well, with one exception: Stephen Hendry.

Ask Hendry for his personal best memory from his years of dominance and it isn’t his 1992 comeback win against Jimmy White or his capture of their decider in 1994.

It’s his win with a session to spare in between. In 1993, he was so much better than everyone else that the tournament became a procession. Hendry beat White 18-5. There was no late night drama, just a series of repeats to fill the BBC2 schedule (whatever the equivalent of 'Coast' was back then).

This was an exciting time to be young: John Major was prime minister, Eldorado had replaced Terry Wogan's chatshow and the rise of 2 Unlimited showed no signs of abating.

Against this life-affirming backdrop, a young Scotsman was dominating snooker.

The first thing to say about the 1993 World Championship is that the qualifiers were played closer to the previous year’s event, in September 1992.

This helped produce an eclectic field of players in some cases rarely seen since.

There was Spencer Dunn. There was John Giles. There was Shaun Mellish.

There was Karl Payne, a blond West Midlander who sported three different haircuts for his match against Martin Clark and later appeared on Stars in Their Eyes as Rick Astley.

There was also Ronnie O’Sullivan, just 16 when he qualified, who won ten matches to reach the Crucible.

O’Sullivan lost 10-7 in the first round to Alan McManus, a creditable performance given that McManus was one of the title favourites.

Indeed, on day one of the event, the BBC’s David Vine wrote his pick as to who would be champion in a sealed envelope to be revealed on the final day (there was no Twitter, indeed barely an internet).

McManus was his choice. BBC integrity still being highly prized in those days, Vine duly unsealed the envelope during the final, just before introducing a montage put together by the ‘back room boys’.

How much simpler these times were.

Because the qualifiers had been held months before the final stages, many of the players who made it to Sheffield were in fact out of form by the time the tournament began on April 17.

There were a slew of runaway victories in the first round with seven of the 16 matches finishing 10-4 or under.

Hendry ran through Danny Fowler 10-1. Fowler had been a dustman in a previous life and was later reported to be driving a pick-up truck on a maggot farm.

Steve Davis, still very much a contender, gained revenge on Peter Ebdon for his defeat in the first round the previous year but came unstuck against McManus in the last 16, although not before he made the highest break at the Crucible for the fourth and last time with his 144.

A Hendry-White final was again on the cards. White saw off Joe Swail, Doug Mountjoy, Dennis Taylor and James Wattana to reach his fifth world final.

Hendry reached the semi-finals having lost only 12 frames in three matches. In the last four, he faced McManus. To mark this all Scottish affair the players were led into the arena before one session by a lone bagpiper.

These days it would probably be some Herbert doing the Gangnam Style dance but there was no Youtube in 1993 and somehow we coped.

The second session proved key here. From 4-4, Hendry pulled away to lead 10-5 and won 16-9.

And so it was Hendry v White again, but this time there was no drama. Hendry won the first session 5-2 and the second 7-2. He won six of the seven frames on the third afternoon to leave the evening with no snooker at all.

He made three centuries and ten half centuries in the final. Hendry had made eight of the 35 centuries recorded in the final stages.

This is 20 years ago but of the 32 players who comprised the final stages, only seven – O'Sullivan, White, McManus, Davis, Ebdon, Nigel Bond and Tony Drago – are still on the circuit.

Two, Clark and Gary Wilkinson, now work for World Snooker’s tournament team. Many of the others have drifted away from snooker.

The 1993 World Championship wasn’t regarded as a vintage tournament. It doesn’t feature in lists of great snooker moments.

But it marked perhaps the high watermark of Hendry’s dominance of the game’s greatest event  and this is reason enough to remember it.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dave who exactly has forgotten the 1993 championship,could you name them so we can ascertain if your assumption is true or just a guess.Or is your piece just another light application of journalistic sophism .

kildare cueman said...

I recall Irish journalist Eamon Dunphy, a friend of White, recounting the semi (think it was 93), where White trailed 6-1.

White had just been declared bankrupt and decided to wager his semi final guarantee on himself to beat Wattana at odds of 6-1.

He duly won and saved himself the ignominy of bankruptcy and went on the mother of all sessions to celebrate.

When he eventually fell into the hotel at 8am, Hendry was already up and practising, so it was no surprise that Hendo steamrollered him.

Dont know how much of the story is true or if there is some exaggeration involved, but it is a good story and one that I have told many times.

Anonymous said...

Was there a championship in 93?
Ive been racking my brains. I remember it now. Dont know what sophism is though.

Anonymous said...

5.46 - David is correct, it's not as if snooker hard core followers have forgotten the 93 championships, it's just not as vivid as say the 92 one (White 147 and White letting a 14-8 lead slip) and 94 with Hendry winning 18-17 when White had a decent chance in the decider.

Think you've pretty much covered the 93 championships David, but I think there was also the White/Wattana semi final, when Wattana lead 5-0 before losing 10 plus frames on the spin to White.
35 Cenuries that year was a record, beating the 1991 total of 31.
Remember the first frame of the final, Hendry making a break of 136 "at his very first vist to the table" in the words of Jack Karnehm. White's highest break was only 60 in 23 frames.
For the record, Karnehm not in the same class as Clive Everton but his style of commentary is sorely missed, especially when Jimmy White was ever playing! "This man is the Rolls Royce of snooker"

Trevor said...

You could very easily said this for the runaway 1989 or 1983 finals also.

JIMO96 said...

I thought it was a fantastic tournament, and so good to see so many new faces on TV!

Was this the one, after which, the 17-32 brigade went up in arms about being beaten by players who were by that stage "better tuned to the tables than them?" Thereafter, the final qualifying round was held over from the main qualifying event (as if these "seeds" weren't protected enough!)

I remember Dennis Taylor chucking his toys out the pram when Anthony Davies hammered him in a qualifier, and then ignorantly slamming the qualifying system because Anthony had played "7 matches that week", whereas he was coming in cold....(!)

This could be the very point in history where the so called "elite" developed their nauseating sense of entitlement and protection, and it has stood ever since.......until 2013/14 of course.

Anonymous said...

Fucking tears in my eyes.

What a great piece, Dave.

Colin M said...

Hooray...! It's the start of the build up to the 2013 World Snooker Championships! Nice article Dave.

I don't remember all that much about the 1993 tournament I must say...it was the year I graduated so I may have been writing an essay or something like that.....

Anyhow, in the here and now..I hope that Day 1 can replicate Day 1 of last year.

Anonymous said...

To the smart Alec at 5.46 - where exactly does the piece say the 1993 championship has been "forgotten"?

Get a life.

Anonymous said...

That series of first round mis-matches contributed to the round being dominated by the seeds.

As I recall it, the first 15 matches all went the way of the seeded player. The only exception came in the last match of the first round, when the not inexperienced Doug Mountjoy beat Alain Robidoux.

Anonymous said...

Well I had. You can call me Bob.
Even after reading the article I can't clearly recall any of the matches mentioned. But I can still remember Ebdon beating Davis in 92 and the closer Hendry-White finals.

Anonymous said...

Great writing Dave - this piece shows both your commitment to regular readers and how much things have changed in snooker. Not so long ago you were producing pieces like this as a means of filling the months between ranking events - now it is a question of squeezing in a piece like this in the 1 week gap between 2 ranking events, both of them covered live by terrestial broadcasters.

Anonymous said...

a better filler than World Snooker's official site - which offers 'what's on Mark Davis' Ipad' as its current top story. Ok its not just him (they also have Barry Hawkins, Stuart Bingham and some others) but it is an exceptionally dull piece, they should at least have asked the players likely to have interesting MP3 files (Dominic Dale or Steve Davis?)

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten 1993 until you mentioned it.

I recall that at the time, the early endings of semi finals & finals was a source of great dissapointment in our family - particulary if we had forked out for tickets in the Crucible.

wild said...

a World Championship is defied by Finals or the closeness of final.

the 1985 World Championship is case in point.

Quite possibly the Worst Championship ever in the TV Age with one sided Matches.

7 first Round Matches 10-4 or Worst

5 Last 16 Matches 13-6 or Worst with 1 finishing a session early

2 Quarter Final Matches 13-6 and 13-5 but something to chear with the Ray Reardon v John Parrott match going the distance Ray Winning 13-12

Both Semi finals Finished 16-5 meaning Friday had virtually no play ahead of the Saturday and Sunday Final.

and then to the final.

Saturday afternoon Steve Davis 8-0 up (here we go again) but as we know the rest is history and on the turn of one day a poor championship will be remembered for ever more (as long as Dennis Taylor commentates lol)

Anonymous said...

Well, if nothing else, David has to be admired for allowing this blog to be operated so democratically. For me, some of the obnoxious wise ass comments should have been bounced right back.
I remember the Jack Karnehm "Rolls Royce" comment well. '86 Rothmans GP (v Hendry I think).
Karnehm was indeed a fabulous commentator and very sadly missed.

Anonymous said...

David, how about a story about the going ons behind the scenes at tournaments...I know it still goes on..... kiss n tell?

Anonymous said...

Jack (good luck mate) Karnehm was a great commentator. R.I.P.
Good news that Sir Clive of Everton is back next week on itv4 next week commentating again.
Dean.

Anonymous said...

Dave probably wonders why he bothers some times, I mean, it's not like he does the blog for the money is it. Keep spreading the word Dave: John the Baptist got his head cut off, Jesus was crucified, Martin Luther King was shot, but they all went down in history!

Gus_gorman said...

A great article Dave as always.
I remember the tournament fondly as It was my first visit to the Cruicible and I was leaving school not long after.
We had a ticket and our first round match finished early so we stayed and watched Alain and Doug do battle until very late as I remember, we got sat at the very front.

Alain was missing a series of easy shots when at one point I turned to my friend and said that he was rubbish and would get beat, he overheard me and gave me a glare! We then were in fits of laughter!
Doug was chain smoking and the arena was clogged with his smoke,thank god them days are over!

Whites win over wattana was quality and how he never won is a travesty,particularly when you look at some people who did lift the title.

The beebs montages were brilliant and David vine was a top anchorman.
Great to see Clive Everton back next week, why the BBC dropped him is unfathomable as his knowledge and view of play and the players is pure class.

Crystal Gayle said...

10.16pm "To the smart Alec at 5.46 - where exactly does the piece say the 1993 championship has been "forgotten"?"

Erm it's in the title.

Then again, of the 4 finals that featured Hendry and White, this is easily the least memorable one because it was so one-sided and didnt feature any memorable comebacks or final frame thriller.

Wont necessarily call it forgotten but it does seem to feature less prominently in people's memories.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie alert - all over the press today.

Will he play at Sheffield.

Will he join the "legends" tour.

Will he stop playing altogether,

Straw pole at the pub this lunchtime - majority couldn't care whatever the outcome.

I dont care but I do enjoy watching him play.

Anonymous said...

No shortage of those who let out a collective yawn whenever anything to do with Ronnie is mentioned.
The reality is that whilst there remains the possibility that the games greatest ever player may return, then it is reasonable that there will be plenty of interest in him.
It may be that his tally of victories, especially at Sheffield may not exceed those of Hendry's, but in terms of ability and being able to play the game at the highest possible level, he is without equal.
As much as I would love to see him return, my best reasons for and against are as follows....
Yes - in the same respect as asking what the prize for a maximum was before proceeding to knock one in ( Glasgow 2010), he seems to relish heaping extra pressure on himself. Returning to Sheffield in April would certainly tick that box.
No - Having spoken so often about retiring at the very top as world champion, this may well be his only opportunity to do so.
He will, rightly, do what is best for himself.
If its a yes, then anything approaching his A game, he wins.
If its a no, we will never see his like again.

Anonymous said...

457, couldn't have put it better.

Anonymous said...

It's a myth to assume someone like Ronnie, who plays the game so beautifully is in some way good at everything.
He is fickle and speaks fluently in the language of bollocks, to the point where he embarrasses himself every time he changes his mind.
My prediction is that he enters the World Champs then pulls out at the last minute, ie the worst possible scenario of all of the rocket permutations.
Stay away Ronnie.

Anonymous said...

only 7 players still on the Tour?

Ronnie, Mcmanus, Davis, White, Drago, Bond, Ebdon... what about Wattanna?