The latest chapter in a series of articles looking back at each campaign from the Crucible era.
While the previous campaign was memorable in that it debuted the Crucible Theatre as a World Championship venue, the 1977/78 snooker season also boasted a worthy first.
It was during this term that the inaugural staging of the UK Championship occurred, with Patsy Fagan emerging as a somewhat unlikely winner.
Mike Watterson, who was the mastermind behind the sport’s trip to Sheffield, was the promoter once again.
In those early days, the tournament that would eventually become the second most prestigious ranking event wasn’t even a ranking event at all.
Indeed, the UK Championship was only open to players from the UK or those residing in Britain.
There was a fraction of irony then that the only non-UK native in the draw, Fagan a Dubliner but living in London, would go on to lift the title.
A professional for merely a year at that point, Fagan hammered Jackie Rea and Fred Davis in the early rounds before successive deciding frame clinchers against Jim Meadowcroft and John Virgo.
In the final, Fagan won the last four frames to overcome Doug Mountjoy 12-9 at the Tower Circus in Blackpool.
A couple of months later, the Masters was held for what would be the last time at the New London Theatre.
Mountjoy was the reigning champion, but the Welshman crashed out in his first match against Cliff Thorburn.
The latter would go on to reach the final, facing Alex Higgins in front of a big crowd in the English capital city.
Higgins, who had actually already enjoyed success earlier in the 1977/78 snooker season in Toronto with victory in the Canadian Open, triumphed 7-5 to secure the first of his two Masters crowns.
In April, the snooker fraternity returned to the Crucible Theatre for the second year running, marking the first time since the World Snooker Championship was revived in 1969 that the blue-riband event was staged at the same venue for consecutive years.
John Spencer emerged victorious in 1977, but he duly became the first of many first-time champions thereafter who would succumb to the “Curse of the Crucible”.
Indeed, the spell hasn’t been broken yet but if you believe reigning champion Judd Trump could become the first to overcome the voodoo, this online bet calculator might help you calculate the best odds.
Spencer, meanwhile was defeated in the opening round by South African Perrie Mans, who would go on to feature in one of the more memorable semi-final encounters in Sheffield.
Mans faced a rejuvenated Fred Davis, winner of eight world titles in the immediate post-war era.
At 64, Davis is the oldest player to feature at that latterly stage at the Crucible, a record that is likely never going to be beaten.
Trailing 14-8, Davis fought his way back to 16-14 down and had a straight pink to reduce his deficit to just a single frame.
The ball amazingly rattled, Davis lost the frame, and soon after Mans progressed to make his one and only World Championship final appearance.
The formidable Ray Reardon was his opponent in the final, and the world number one duly won back the title that he had permanent ownership of between 1973 and 1976 with a 25-18 triumph.
Enjoy the history very much, thanks for the lesson.
Glad you are enjoying them, Carl.
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