Cliff Thorburn 147
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On This Day in Crucible History: April 23 – Cliff Thorburn 147

During this year’s World Snooker Championship, we’ll be recalling some of the most memorable moments that took place at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

Cliff Thorburn 147
Cliff Thorburn’s 147 was worth £13,000.

“Oh good luck, mate!”

Possibly the most well-versed words of commentary in snooker’s history were nervously uttered by Jack Karnehm 36 years ago today, April 23rd of 1983.

Cliff Thorburn, already a world champion from three years earlier, slowly steadied himself to sink the final black of the first televised 147 break as Karnehm, the crowd, and everyone watching at home tentatively held their breath.

Some 15 minutes earlier, the then 35 year-old Thorburn began the break with an incredibly fortuitous fluke that set him on his way to perfection.

The Canadian’s knock was a far cry from the 147 that would be made by Ronnie O’Sullivan some years later on the same stage with the “Grinder” carefully assessing each shot and even taking his time in between pots to compose himself with a wipe down of the cue and a blow of his nose.

If anything, it helped to escalate the tension that little bit more and, as Thorburn finally released his cue to stroke the final black safely into the corner bag, he sank to his knees, raised his arms aloft, and snooker history was written.

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Maximum breaks are common occurrences these days on the tour but back then this was a real sporting moment to savour.

It was only the second competitive 147 break and it would take another nine years for the feat to be repeated in snooker’s blue riband championship.

Thorburn would end up beating Terry Griffiths in that second round match in a late finish before two more gruelling deciding frame victories helped him into the final – where he had nothing left to give in a one-sided loss to Steve Davis.

Last year Thorburn, now 71, rolled back the years at the Crucible by winning the inaugural Seniors Masters on the World Seniors Tour.

This article has been updated and was originally published on April 23rd, 2018.

Watch Cliff Thorburn’s 147



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World Rankings after the British Open – won by Mark Williams.

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