Steve Davis Wins Maiden World Title
Features, On This Day, World Championship

OTD in Snooker: Steve Davis Wins First World Title

On this day in snooker, Steve Davis beat Doug Mountjoy 18-12 to win his first World Championship title in Sheffield.

There’ll be many snooker fans who can’t quite fathom that it’s been more than 40 years since a certain Steve Davis emerged as a world champion for the first time in his career.

The World Snooker Championship was only in its fifth year at the Crucible Theatre and snooker was just establishing itself as a mainstream sport on television.

Davis, at 23 years old, was at the forefront of a pack of young players who were beginning to make a breakthrough in the game.

On his debut appearance at the Crucible in 1979 a young Davis lost 13-11 to Dennis Taylor in the opening round.

Twelve months later he beat Patsy Fagan and then defending world champion Terry Griffiths en route to the quarter-finals, where he was denied by soon-to-be rival Alex Higgins.

By 1981 the Nugget had been a professional for three seasons and was seeded at number 13 for the World Championship.

Davis overcame debutant Jimmy White in an enthralling first-round battle – a player, like many, who he would inflict pain on multiple times throughout the decade in Sheffield.

Victories over Higgins, Griffiths, and reigning champion Cliff Thorburn followed as the Romford Slim advanced to the showpiece finale.

A maiden success in Sheffield was rarely in doubt, and Davis coasted to an 18-12 triumph over Welshman Mountjoy.

It sparked a wave of dominance in the 1980s for Davis, who would fail to reach the final only once more during the decade.

That failure, of course, came the following year when he sensationally succumbed to the “Curse of the Crucible” at the hands of Tony Knowles.

However, he managed to land the World Championship title five more times – adding glories in 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, and 1989.

One memorable snippet from his crowning moment in 1981 is a young Barry Hearn sprinting onto the stage and nearly bundling over his friend and client in celebration.

Almost 30 years after that moment, Hearn would revitalise what had become an ailing sport as the new World Snooker Tour chairman.

Hearn, who a year ago retired from his position at the helm, has always maintained that his own success – and therefore that of snooker today in many ways – can be traced back to Davis’ triumph on April 20th, 1981.

Retiring from the game in 2016, Steve Davis left a legacy as one of the all-time greats of the game.

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