1988/89 snooker season
Ranking, Snooker Seasons, Tournaments

1988/89 Snooker Season: Old and New

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

As the 1980s neared its conclusion, snooker’s decade-long boom showed no real signs of evaporating with the 1988/89 snooker season boasting a record eight ranking events.

Steve Davis won the 1988 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, underlining the affinity the viewing public had with the sport at the time.

The then 33 year-old won two out of the first three ranking titles of the 1988/89 snooker season, again locking horns with familiar rivals Jimmy White and Alex Higgins.

Davis beat them both in respective showdowns at the International Open and the Grand Prix, but he was downed by White in the Canadian Masters final in Toronto.

The tournament, which had been run in some capacity on and off for more than a decade, was finally upgraded to ranking event status, but unfortunately this was the last year it was staged.

Canadian players – from former world champion Cliff Thorburn to popular figures Kirk Stevens and Bill Webeniuk – had made a huge impact on the game but their presence would gradually die out in the subsequent years.

Meanwhile, while the world number one continued to reel off victory after victory, a new wave of fresh talent was also emerging on the scene.

Stephen Hendry had captured a brace of ranking titles the campaign before and featured heavily at the business end of tournaments again, while young Liverpudlian John Parrott began to demonstrate his taste for the big-time too.

The pair clashed in the Masters final at the Wembley Conference Centre in January, with Hendry emerging on his debut as a 9-6 winner.

Hendry’s love affair with the prestigious invitational in London would go on for half a dozen years, not experiencing defeat in the competition somewhat incredibly until 1994.

It marked Hendry’s maiden major title, and it came just a couple of short months after he was beaten by a resurgent Doug Mountjoy in the UK Championship title decider.

While most of the early marquee names from the 1970s were beginning to suffer more permanent slides down the pecking order, Mountjoy came from absolutely nowhere to spin an unlikely period of form.

The Welshman, ten years after emerging with the UK trophy for the first time, had recently fallen outside the top 16 in the world rankings.

But defeats of Neal Foulds, Joe Johnson, John Virgo, and Terry Griffiths helped him through to only his second ranking event final.

At 46, Mountjoy stunned the then 19 year-old Hendry 16-12, and the former World Championship runner-up amazingly proceeded to claim the next ranking title too with success in the Mercantile Credit Classic.

Speaking of resurgences, Hendry found himself in action against an even greater fallen star at the 1989 Irish Masters in Goffs.

Goffs, a place otherwise used for trading horses, had become a snooker venue that any aspiring champion desperately wanted to compete at, and emerge victorious from.

A ring of tiered seating represented an imposing surrounding of the table and players that took centre stage.

The Irish Masters was staged at Goffs until 2000 and it’s a shame that there hasn’t been a professional tournament in the arena since, although the World Seniors Tour has taken advantage of its availability on a couple of occasions in recent times.

In 1989, Hendry crossed paths with Higgins, who had bounced back from his disappointing spell by reaching the Grand Prix final earlier in the 1988/89 snooker season.

On that occasion, Higgins missed out on glory to old foe Davis, but his fortunes were better on home turf.

In front of a raucous crowd, the “Hurricane” fought back from 8-6 down to deny Hendry in a dramatic decider.

A glittering, charismatic, temperamental, egotistical, and genius career was arguably summed up in the performance that proved to be his last professional triumph on the Main Tour.

While Higgins won the battle, Hendry was playing the long game and knew that many more pieces of silverware were within his grasp.

Hendry had beaten Davis in the UK Championship, the Masters, and the Irish Masters en route to reaching each final.

A changing of the guard was imminent, but in Sheffield for the 1989 World Championship Davis managed to fend off the challenge to his throne one last time.

The Englishman beat Hendry 16-9 in the semi-finals before inflicting an 18-3 annihilation of Parrott in the final.

The “Nugget” had ups and downs throughout the 1988/89 snooker season but had well and truly dominated the decade, reaching the final at the Crucible eight times and winning the title on six occasions to match Ray Reardon’s modern day record.

That changing of the guard, however, was just around the corner.

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1989/90 Snooker Season–>


  1. Scott McCarter

    I think by 1989 Steve was a spent force If we go forward to 1990 He lost 9-1 to Hendry in the Final of Dubai Desert classic and then lost the UK Final’s of both 1989 and 1990 16-12 and 16-15 respectively If we then go on to the 1989 masters Hendry beat Davis 6-3 in the Semi finals before his 9-6 victory over future World And Uk Champion John Parrott. in 1991 Hendry Won his 3rd Grand Prix title defeating Davis 10-6 in the final. Hendry had quite a lot of Good wins over davis and he is on record as saying that was a big psychological boost which Helped to cement his dominance of the 1990’s

  2. Pingback: 1989/90 Snooker Season: Changing of the Guard - SnookerHQ

  3. Pingback: 1987/88 Snooker Season: Steve Davis' Major Sweep - SnookerHQ

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