John Spencer becomes first champion
Features, On This Day

On This Day in Crucible History: April 30 – John Spencer Becomes First Champion

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.

On April 30th of 1977, the inaugural World Championship at the Crucible reached its conclusion with John Spencer being crowned the theatre’s first champion.

It was almost by fluke that the sport ended up in what is now considered snooker’s spiritual home – a place unlike any other that has conjured up countless magical memories.

The late Mike Watterson, the promoter at the time, was in search of a new place to host the event and thankfully pursued a tip from his wife, who had recommended the venue after seeing a play there.


The first staging in 1977 was a success and produced a worthy champion in Spencer, who added to previous world crowns that he won in 1969 and 1970.

That year, the final was played over the best of 49 frames across seven sessions, but it still proved popular with TV audiences and the BBC was back a year later to screen even more coverage.

Spencer’s triumph proved to be his last world title and, indeed, he never again even reached the quarter-finals – becoming the first player to experience the “Curse of the Crucible” when, as a first-time Crucible champ, he lost to Perry Mans in the last 16.

Illness curtailed his efforts towards the end of his career and he was rarely able to contest for top honours throughout the following decade before his eventual retirement in the early 1990s.

Yet, his 25-21 success against Canadian Cliff Thorburn will always be written into the history books as the first at the Crucible – building the foundations for a legacy that is still being added to each year.

This article has been updated and was originally published on April 30th, 2018.

Watch as John Spencer Becomes First Champion

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