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.
The 1990s undoubtedly belonged to Stephen Hendry but there were signs towards the end of the decade that his game was beginning its inevitable decline.
After five World Championship triumphs in a row between 1992 and 1996 – making it a record-equalling six in total – Hendry’s sustained period of dominance at the Crucible came to an abrupt end when Ken Doherty pipped him to the 1997 title.
A year later, there was a modicum of revenge for Jimmy White and a moment to savour for his army of fans as the “Whirlwind” finally got one over on the Scot, albeit on this occasion in the first round.
Then, towards the end of 1998, Hendry suffered a quite unbelievable 9-0 whitewash defeat to countryman Marcus Campbell in the first round of the UK Championship – the sport’s second biggest ranking event.
Hendry was amazingly still only 30 when he headed to the World Championship in 1999 – a mere baby in the current climate of the game – but he was facing stiffer challenges from an even younger generation that included the likes of defending champion John Higgins and imminent winners Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Other emerging stars like Matthew Stevens, Paul Hunter, and Stephen Lee were also beginning to make regular waves and it was clear that it was going to become increasingly difficult for Hendry to fulfill his ambition of breaking Steve Davis and Ray Reardon’s modern era all-time record.
Yet, after a hard-fought 10-8 victory over a then 20 year-old Hunter in the first round, Hendry beat James Wattana, Stevens, and O’Sullivan to reach the final for the eighth time in the 1990s.
There was to be no mistake like two years previously and Hendry, as he so often did, produced a clinical and dominant display to outplay Williams 18-11 in the final.
When he raised the trophy aloft on May 3rd, he wrote his name into the history books and, even though most of his records have been tumbling in recent years, he remains ahead of the rest when it comes to World Championship triumphs.
This article has been updated and was originally published on May 3rd, 2018.