1980/81 snooker season
Snooker Seasons

1980/81 Snooker Season: Enter Steve Davis

The latest chapter in a series of articles looking back at each campaign from the Crucible era.

The 1980/81 snooker season was the first full term of the new decade, and there were clear signs right from the off that it would be dominated by one player.

A professional for two years and already displaying signs of his pedigree, Steve Davis was a formidable young talent who was set to take the game by storm.

The Englishman, inspired by his father Bill to play and later managed by a plucky businessman called Barry Hearn, established himself as a top amateur in the 1970s and turned professional in 1978.

On just his second appearance at the Crucible, he stunned defending world champion Terry Griffiths in the second round of the 1980 World Championship.

Although he lost to Alex Higgins in the last eight, Davis had announced himself and would quickly gain his revenge on the Northern Irishman during the 1980/81 snooker season.

At the UK Championship in November, Davis comfortably reached the final with an eye-catching 9-0 demolition of Griffiths in the last four.

Davis subsequently faced Higgins for his maiden professional title in a head-to-head battle that would be synonymous with the early part of the decade.

A clash of styles on the table and personalities off it, Higgins didn’t have a great deal of affection for Davis and wasn’t shy in his attempts to instill fear in his young opponent.

It didn’t matter, as Davis wiped the floor of the 1972 world champion with a resounding 16-6 success that would set the precedent for a ten-year spell of utter dominance.

Buoyed by his first victory, Davis quickly won his second as a week later he triumphed in the eight-man Classic in Bolton.

In the space of a couple of weeks, Davis had gone from the pretender to the chosen one most fancied to rise to the top.

By the time of the 1981 World Championship, the then 23 year-old had added another two pieces of silverware to his growing collection.

Davis was the pre-tournament favourite but only just survived an epic first-round tie against another up-and-coming superstar in the form of Jimmy White.

After yet again dispelling the challenges of Higgins and Griffiths, it was the turn of reigning champion Cliff Thorburn in the semi-finals.

By this point, Davis was well into his rhythm and nothing was going to stop him entering millions of people’s homes as the next big sporting sensation.

In a pre-internet age, there were less distractions like the games you can find at thebest-casinos.com, and only a few main television channels to choose from with the BBC by far the most popular.

For Thorburn, the only consolation in his 16-10 defeat was that the Canadian did enough to usurp Ray Reardon at the top of the world rankings list – becoming just the second player to hold the position since the list was officially recognised five years earlier.

Champion of Champions winner Doug Mountjoy was Davis’ opponent in the final – the Welshman making some history himself with a magnificent 145 total clearance in his last four defeat of Reardon, marking a new World Championship record.

Both players were participating in a world final for the first time, but any possibility of nerves from Davis were quickly dispelled when he took the opening six frames of the showdown.

Upon completing his 18-12 glory his exuberant manager Hearn came rushing onto the stage, clenching his fist and hugging his prodigy in an infamous scene that is often replayed.

Appearances in World Championship finals would of course become commonplace for Davis, but more on that later.

Higgins and Griffiths, meanwhile, would have liked to have seen the back of the fresh-faced competitor, but their agonies at the hands of the Londoner were unfortunately just beginning.

That said, the pair did take advantage of Davis’ early exit in the prestigious Masters earlier in the 1980/81 snooker season, setting up a repeat of the previous year’s final which Griffiths won.

Higgins, featuring in a Masters title decider for the fourth consecutive campaign, delighted the 2,500 fans inside the arena by enacting his revenge with a 9-6 success.

New world number one Thorburn was the other to feature heavily during this period, winning the last Canadian Open on home turf before also beating countryman Jim Wych to claim Pot Black for the first and only time in his career.

The unusual rankings system, which counted only results in the most recent three World Championships despite an increasing quantity of tournaments on the calendar, made Thorburn number one.

But Davis was widely recognised as the best player, and it was only a matter of time before the official list reflected that too.

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  1. Pingback: 1980/81 Snooker Season: Enter Steve Davis | Sports 365

  2. Carl Hungness

    Great stuff, the more photos the better. Some of us have never seen the players you refer to.

  3. Pingback: 1981/82 Snooker Season: Alex Higgins, My Baby - SnookerHQ

  4. Pingback: 1979/80 Snooker Season: Griffiths and the Grinder - SnookerHQ

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