Dennis Taylor tells Dave Devereux about his life and passions and that magical night when he won the World Snooker Championship, 30 years ago
If you had even a passing interest in sport and were old enough to stay up past midnight, chances are you watched Dennis Taylor’s dramatic black ball win over Steve Davis in 1985 World Snooker Championship final.
This year is the 30th anniversary of the epic 35-frame decider which was clinched on the final ball of the final frame in the wee hours of the morning at 12.23 a.m. in Sheffield.
Steve Davis missed what in normal circumstances was a relatively straightforward cut into the top pocket, but these were far from normal circumstances. A beaming Taylor dispatched the black, held his cue aloft and famously wagged his finger at a friend in the audience in celebration.
Davis, who had triumphed in three of the four previous championships, was firm favourite to add another title and it looked to be going according to script when the ‘Nugget’ led 8-0, but Taylor dug deep and went ahead for the first time in the match when he sank the black with the final shot of the gripping 68-minute deciding frame.
It may have been the only time that Taylor won snooker’s biggest prize but it is etched in the memory far more firmly than any of the victories of six-times winner Steve Davis. In fact Davis, despite all his successes, is probably reminded more of the part he played in his titanic tussle with Taylor than any of his own triumphs.
The official BBC2 viewing figure for the post-midnight marathon was 18.5 million, although many argue the actual amount is even greater when you take into account pubs, clubs and other establishments.
Taylor says although he knew at the time he was involved in a snooker classic he could never have envisaged the gargantuan impact it would have and how strongly it still resonates 30 years later.
‘It’s 30 years ago and people are still talking about it. Never in our wildest dreams did we think that 30 years on people would still be remembering that one,’ he said.
In the 1980s snooker was box office and the black ball final is fondly remembered as not only the greatest moment in the history of the game, but also one of the pivotal moments in sport as a whole.