MD's BLOG - ONE TIME, ONE TABLE CRUCIBLE WONDERS!
If the Crucible Theatre is snooker's biggest stage, then the one table set there must be, ermmmm...the biggest, biggest stage!
The arena is transformed come Thursday Afternoon with all eyes on the Semi-Finalists in this year's World Championship - Selby, Ding, Higgins and Hawkins have all played in that environment on multiple occasions before.
Since 1977, only a select band of players have exhibited their skills under the hottest of spotlights. Can you remember them all? We take a look back at some of the players who managed to get there once, but have yet since returned.
NOTE - I did not include the late, great Paul Hunter on the list. The 3 times Masters Champion made the Semi-Finals in 2003 but went down to an epic comeback from Ken Doherty. I'm sure Paul would have graced this stage many more times in the future, but he was cruelly denied that chance.
RICKY WALDEN - 2013 Multiple time major ranking event winner Walden looked on course for the World Final when he led Barry Hawkins 12-8 in their Semi-Final. He would eventually lose 17-14.
MARK ALLEN - 2009 Perhaps surprisingly, Northern Ireland's Number 1 has only made the one-table set up once before. This came during only his third appearance at the Crucible in 2009 when he was eliminated 17-13 by John Higgins.
JOE PERRY - 2008 Perry's moment came in 2008 where he narrowly lost out 17-15 to Ali Carter.
IAN MCCULLOCH - 2005 Surprise Semi-Finalist McCulloch led Matthew Stevens 6-2 after their opening session. However, the Welshman came through the winner 17-14.
STEPHEN LEE - 2003 For some reason, Lee never got it on at the Crucible; he made just one Semi-Final in 15 visits there. In 2003 he lost to Mark Williams.
ALAIN ROBIDOUX - 1997 The last of a golden generation to come from Canada, Robidoux was an established Top 16 player in the early and late 90's. In 1997, he got past the Last 16 stage of the World Championship for his first and solitary time. Overall winner Ken Doherty beat him 17-7.
ANDY HICKS - 1995 Hicks was a bit of a cult figure in the mid 90's enjoying a lucrative 'Purple Patch' that saw him reach the Semi-Finals of the UK, Masters and World Championship. Nigel Bond finished his dream run in Sheffield
DARREN MORGAN - 1994 The Welshman beat former champion John Parrott in the Quarter-Finals. Jimmy White put the end to his run, though, 16-8 in the Last 4.
STEVE JAMES - 1991 Another sort of cult figure was the curly haired, motorbike loving Steve James, who unleashed the 'Crucible Curse' on Stephen Hendry during their Quarter-Final meeting in 1991 with a 13-11 upset. Hendry still marks it as one of his most painful ever defeats. White beat him 16-9 in the Last 4.
TONY MEO - 1989 Part of the 'Matchroom Mob', Meo was one of the sport's most recognisable characters during its boom period. Meo was actually on a decline come the late 80's and placed outside the World's elite Top 16. However, the 1988/89 campaign was his most successful as he recovered to win his maiden major ranking event at the 1989 British Open.
Tony continued his good form at the World Championship - the event immediately afterwards. Victories over Johnson, Charlton and Reynolds got him to the one table, but John Parrott eliminated him 16-7.
NEAL FOULDS - 1987 Former World Number 3 and 1986 International Open Champion Foulds defeated John Virgo, Dennis Taylor and Mike Hallett to reach the Semi-Finals where he faced defending champion Joe Johnson. Despite being 8-8, Johnson won the next seven frames helping him to a 16-9 win.
DAVID TAYLOR - 1980 The 'Silver Fox' is another memorable character in snooker's history. During the Crucible's fourth staging of the championship, he beat Ray Edmonds, Fred Davis and then enjoyed a 13-11 success over 6-times World Champion Ray Reardon. Cliff Thorburn - who went on to win it, ended his hopes 16-7.
Written and published by Michael Day on the 27th April 2017