1984/85 snooker season
Snooker Seasons

1984/85 Snooker Season: The Black Ball Final

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

The story of the 1984/85 snooker season is obviously dominated by one match, and it just so happened to be the most important of them all.

It would be remiss to wait until the end of this piece to talk about the 1985 World Snooker Championship final between Dennis Taylor and two-time defending champion Steve Davis.

That said, I won’t be going through it in great detail because, well, let’s face it, everyone knows already.

If you’re one of the few who doesn’t – unlikely if you’ve ever listened to Dennis in commentary – then it can be summarised liked this.

Davis is the overwhelming favourite, coasts to an 8-0 lead, Taylor miraculously fights back to 17-17, incredibly dramatic deciding frame ensues, it goes all the way to the last black, where a ghostly Davis misses a relatively straightforward cut-back, and a rosey-cheeked Taylor slots it hom, before he triumphantly raises his cue, wags his finger, and plants a kiss on the old trophy.

Oh, and it had a peak audience on BBC Two of 18.5 million people – which, you know, was a lot.

The truth is, the memorable clash is replayed over and over again because it was so, well, memorable.

The previously infallible Davis had been broken when the pressure was elevated to maximum, punished in the most remarkable fashion by the bespectacled Northern Irish underdog.

At this point, the Crucible era was just eight years old but, in the UK at least, its traditional hotbed, the sport had arguably reached its utmost peak in terms of popularity.

Scores upon scores of snooker clubs were thriving across the UK and Ireland, and plenty of younger players would be inspired to lift a cue and do their best Dennis Taylor impression.

Six years after the 1984/85 snooker season, the professional scene was turned on its head when the governing body decided to lift limitations and open the game up to anybody willing to pay an entry fee.

It’s hardly a coincidence that numerous young players, many of them in their late teens and who we’ll discuss more of later, suddenly burst onto the scene at this time and were probably originally inspired by events like the 1985 World Championship final.

Back in the summer of 1984, meanwhile, there were tournaments popping up all over the place.

Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Thailand all staged invitational events.

Jimmy White and Terry Griffiths bagged a brace of titles each, but by the time the ranking events came around Davis was the main man again.

The “Nugget” collected the champion’s cheque at the Jameson International Open before gaining revenge on Alex Higgins in the final of the UK Championship, having lost to his rival twelve months earlier at the same stage in Preston.

Incidentally, the 1984 UK Championship was the first to allow overseas players to take part, and as a result it was upgraded to ranking status.

Canadians Cliff Thorburn and Kirk Stevens reached the semi-finals, but amazingly there wasn’t to be an international winner until over two decades later.

Thorburn and Stevens featured heavily in the other ranking events too, but both failed to get their hands on any silverware.

The 1980 world champion lost to Taylor in the Grand Prix and Willie Thorne in the Mercantile Classic, while Stevens came up short to South African Silvino Francisco in the final of the British Open.

Francisco pocketed £50,000 – the first time that a cheque that size had been awarded, signalling the small fortunes that these protagonists were now earning.

The British Open showdown for glory made headlines for a lot of wrong reasons too, however.

Francisco accused Stevens of being “as high as a kite”, and although the latter never tested positive for drugs while in action, he did soon after admit to an ongoing addiction to cocaine.

It may be hard to believe with the often clean cut image that the players portray today, but in those days snooker was very much the rock and roll of sport.

Higgins hung out with actor Oliver Reed, White would later grow to be close friends with Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, and there’d be regular news stories of parties, bust-ups, and everything in between.

The “Hurricane” and the “Whirlwind” were by now the best of chums themselves, and the height of their comeraderie came in the World Doubles Championship just before Christmas during the 1984/85 snooker season.

After overcoming reigning champions Davis and Tony Meo in the last four, they were the favourites to lift the title in Northampton.

They didn’t disappoint, thrashing Thorburn and Thorne 10-2 in the final to capture the trophy.

At the Irish Masters a few months later, the two entertainers faced off against each other on this occasion for the trophy in Goffs.

Higgins had earned another rare victory over Davis in the semi-final, but it was the younger of the lightning-fast talents who had the last laugh, with White running out a 9-5 winner in the final.

Their respective careers would go in vastly different trajectories over the coming campaigns.

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1985/86 Snooker Season–>


  1. Pingback: 1985/86 Snooker Season: Thorburn vs White - SnookerHQ

  2. Pingback: Mr. Maximum: The Great Willie Thorne - SnookerHQ

  3. Pingback: Dennis Taylor Plays Last Competitive Snooker Match - SnookerHQ

  4. Pingback: 1983/84 Snooker Season: Davis' Defence - SnookerHQ

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