Cliff Thorburn rolled back the years to claim the inaugural Seniors Masters title at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on Thursday.
The Canadian, who memorably won the prestigious Masters three times in four years between 1983 and 1986, dramatically overcame Jonathan Bagley 2-1 in the final after potting the re-spotted black in the decider.
Thorburn had earlier in the day received a bye in the quarter-finals after the late withdrawal of 1986 world champion Joe Johnson, who was taken ill on Wednesday and had to be admitted to hospital.
The 70 year-old faced John Parrott in the last four and a break of 51 helped him to a 2-0 victory over the Liverpudlian.
Bagley, who also lost in the final of the Irish Seniors Masters earlier this season, had reached the final thanks to victories over Dennis Taylor and Michael Judge, the latter having previously accounted for favourite Stephen Hendry in a tense last eight clash that was settled after the Scot went in-off with the cueball on the final black.
Bagley took the lead in the showdown for glory but Thorburn managed to level and, after a long and tense safety battle, the “Grinder” completed a routine pot to complete the triumph to the delight of the crowd.
With the greatest of respects to the likes of Bagley, who has taken to the World Seniors Tour like a duck to water, or Jersey’s Aaron Canavan, who emerged as a surprise candidate to brilliantly lift the World Seniors Championship trophy aloft last month, Thorburn’s glory will go down as one of the most popular of the entire campaign and is a just reward for the fans who forked out in the hope of seeing some of the legends of yesteryear performing on centre stage again.
Thorburn certainly enjoyed his winning moment as, upon seeing the black disappear, raised his arms over his head akin to how he celebrated his famous maiden 147 break at the Crucible more than three decades ago.
The 1980 world champion said: “It’s very meaningful for me being back here at the Crucible. Jonathan actually beat me the last few times but I just felt good being here – there are lots of good memories here.”
“I’m 70 now and I get a little nervy but I’m just so proud to win the first John Spencer Trophy. John helped me to turn pro and he was a great friend for all of my life, he was a classy individual.”
It brings to a conclusion the inaugural season in the World Seniors Tour and, barring a few unfortunate withdrawals from some of the legends that couldn’t be helped, it has appeared to have been a roaring success.
Snooker Legends promoter Jason Francis has worked wonderfully at getting this initiative off the ground and there’s a foundation there now from which to build on and grow the tour into a long-term project.
With triumphs during this campaign for Thorburn in the Seniors Masters, Steve Davis in the Irish Seniors Masters, and Jimmy White in the UK Seniors Championship, it just goes to show that there’s plenty of competitive spirit left in the old dogs yet.
How good does that feel pic.twitter.com/6Mz92m1IDY
— Jason Francis (@Snookerlegends) April 13, 2018