Pot Black

THERE is nothing, as they say, like being there.
Scotland’s John Higgins and English qualifier Mark Selby are, as I type, contesting the final of the World Snooker Championship.
This sporting weekend always brings back memories of a dramatic previous final, which I was lucky enough to attend.
The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield is well-named.
Millions know and love it through the BBC’s excellent annual TV coverage.
The arrival of digital TV has vastly increased the amount of table time which can be screened.

No longer snookered by the restrictions of BBC2’s schedule, armchair fans can also feast on hours of pictures and commentary, as discussed by my colleague Mike Whalley here.
But it’s only when you actually sit in the furnace that you realise just why some describe the Crucible as one of the world’s great sporting venues.
Back in 1992 it appeared that people’s favourite Jimmy White would, at last, secure his dream and become world champion.
14 frames to 8 in the lead in the final against Stephen Hendry, the talk at the players’ hotel was of history in the making for the “Whirlwind”.
We then sat and watched inside the Crucible as Hendry won the next 10 frames in a row, to take the title 18-14.
Neither of my two most vivid memories of that night were caught by the TV cameras.
The first was the sight of a hysterical teenage girl running screaming from the theatre as her hero Jimmy White’s crushing defeat was sealed.
Some time later she was still standing outside in the lobby, tear-stained black mascara flowing like rivers across her face.
The second was in the hotel bar a few hours later.
Jimmy and Rolling Stone pal Ronnie Wood were buying the biggest bottle of champagne I’d ever seen in my life.
Early the next morning, veteran snooker commentator Clive Everton informed breakfast radio listeners that White would be “devastated” by the turn of events.
Maybe so, in time.
But after a night of serious partying – not available on Freeview – my guess is that Jimmy wouldn’t have been feeling a thing.
BBC Sport Snooker
World Snooker
Crucible Theatre