Colin Murray looks back at the 1985 World Championship Snooker final. Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor battled past midnight, as over 18 million viewers watched on BBC Two.
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Hello, everybody. This is the real story of the greatest snooker final of all time.
Let's begin at the beginning. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield!
The date, April 27th 1985.
Let me introduce your finalists.
First, the player looking to cast off the tag of nearly man,
fresh from his Grand Prix win, hoping to go one step further than he ever has at the Crucible,
the 36-year-old smiley Irish man, Dennis Taylor!
Next, a man as serious on the baize as he is off it.
He's 27 years old and he's already won this title three times.
He is the world number one.
He is your number one seed.
Please welcome Romford Slim, Steve Davis!
The famous snooker theme tune.
But then again, in 1985 every sports theme was popular.
Everybody knew them because you didn't need a satellite dish, you just needed the BBC.
MUSIC: VARIOUS SPORTS THEME TUNES
The music that acted as a cue to a roll call of very famous names.
In 1985, there were only four channels.
So if you presented sport on the telly you were as famous as the players themselves.
Hello. Well, a pretty frustrating weekend all round...
Tonight we concentrate on the Winter Olympics.
That's it, as far as I'm concerned.
The famous Crucible theatre, here in Sheffield, which has seen a few dramas in its time,
gearing itself up for the last lap of the 1985 World Professional Snooker Championship.
It is, as I say, a remarkable final, and I'm glad you're with us to enjoy it here tonight.
I remember absolutely nothing of the last day, other than David Vine.
And if someone had told us that 18.5 million people were going to be tuned in...
As the hour reaches midnight, this final frame has now been in progress for 45 minutes.
I think it was a trauma. We were out of our depth.
Both players under great strain.
That particular night, snooker was the winner there.
The fact that I was involved in something where so
many people remember what they were doing, where they were when they were watching it, you know - wow!
For me, the '85 final meant staying up late.
I was seven years old and had never seen the other side of midnight.
It sounds silly, but that's the point, really.
It was more than just a snooker game and it meant to many things to so many different people.
I'm going to try and harness that. I'm going to travel to all four home nations,
starting at the southernmost tip of the Isle of Wight.
Because in the beginning, there was David Icke.
David Icke was, if you like, the Robin to David Vine's Batman,
so he's the perfect person to catch up with first on our travels
and find out a little bit more about the tournament as a whole.
David, Colin, I'm in your control. Where do you want to go?
Let's go home.
25 years ago - there will be people watching now who weren't born.
Can you explain to me where snooker was? What was the state of the game?
Snooker had been a real in-the-shadows sport, and then
the BBC had the Pot Black programme and that gave it some public profile.
This is the last Pot Black, the last edition of the longest-running snooker programme in the world.
The programme that did so much to launch snooker into its modern era
and the multi-million pound industry we see today.
It was absolutely massive.
In British terms, they were superstars, they were everywhere.
And a lot of them had been in the game in the early days
when they were thumbing a lift between exhibition games.
And it happened so fast.
The final, David, the most famous snooker match there has been and probably ever will be,
but before that there was a lot of frames and a lot of games.
What type of tournament was it up until that point?
It was a real struggle that year.
We had one really good game, I remember, between Ray Reardon and John Parrott, went to 13-12 to Ray.
The rest of them, players were winning games comfortably and we had so much time to fill.
When you're building to the climax of a tournament over two weeks, and now
you're filling time with knockabout exhibition games, because the semifinals have been over so easily,
then you think, well, this is a bloody nightmare of a tournament coming up.
-Steve Davis is really
riding on the crest of a wave at the moment.
Brimful of confidence.
I was probably mentally in as good a shape as you can get, and Dennis had reached embarrassment territory.
Which is the ideal situation to get a player in. Then you've got to just drill him into the ground.
I wonder what Dennis is thinking.
'I thought, what's going on here? It was a bit embarrassing.'
I wanted the floor to open up in the Crucible.
I just didn't know where I was going.
I thought, "When am I going to get a proper chance?"
Well, a perfect performance by Steve Davis.
Eight frames to nil.
When Steve went 8-0 up in the final,
you thought, "This is the disaster tournament of all world championships that have been covered."
-# Could it be I'm falling in love
-With you baby
-# Could it be I'm falling in love
-Won't you tell me
# Could it be I'm falling in love... #
In 1985, I was nine.
My parents allowed me to stay up to watch the final.
I was so tired, my eyes were straining to keep awake.
This year will see my 14th visit to the Crucible.
I even met my husband-to-be there.
In the '80s, it wasn't just the presenters who took centre stage.
Take a walk into any commentary box, and you would find giants of broadcasting.
Taken by Smith, lovely pass inside by Smith.
The Scots, like bloodhounds on the scent here.
Steve Ovett coming home to take the gold medal!
Ayrton Senna is up to fourth position ahead of Schumacher.
Ooh, I say, what a volley!
Snooker had its very own monarch of the mic, and Ted Lowe whispered his way through that classic '85 final.
He's 90 this year, he still loves snooker, and he's kindly agreed,
a bit further up the coast, to let me come to his house.
This one was presented to me after my 50 years
by friends and colleagues at the BBC, which I treasure.
It's the old-fashioned mic, as you can see. A lovely piece, that.
What's it like to have friends at the BBC?
I'm still trying to get some!
I had quite a number over the course of years,
and they've all died on me, as it were!
That's good, that's fine, you're here!
When the camera panned to Dennis Taylor spending most of his time
on his derriere, and Davis at the table, what type of figure did Dennis Taylor cut,
as the score went up and up and up, and he hadn't won a single frame in the first eight?
Dennis produced a sad picture when he sat in that lonely chair.
And you could see the terrible agony he was going through as each frame went against him.
'Well, perhaps Dennis was saying a little prayer there.'
He was very close to his mum. The year before this particular final
he lost her, and there was something within him.
I can't explain it.
That he was doing this for his mum.
I was just going to go out and play and try and win the tournaments for my mum, the memory of my mum.
That seat in the Crucible, even though the people are
so close to you, can be one of the loneliest seats in sport.
There were a couple of fellas behind me. I remember chatting to them.
It was something I always used to do anyway.
So with the boys, and chatting away to my mum,
it kept me focused, but it wasn't a pretty place to be sitting, I can tell you.
Of course, it was almost hard for Dennis to look lonely
or depressed, because he had his ridiculous glasses on.
Yes, this is true.
I always said that if Dennis didn't play snooker, he'd be a great comedian.
And these specs of his helped him a great deal.
Originally he got them from my dear old mate, Jack Karnehm.
Jack Karnehm was more than just a commentator.
He was the inventor of glasses, a billiards champion and responsible
for arguably one of the greatest lines of snooker commentary ever.
Good luck, mate.
Oh, wonderful. That is really, truly wonderful.
Timeless moments. Jack's son lives in Hampshire.
His name is Richard and he's invited me down to talk about the legend
of the specs, and the invention of his father.
As far as I'm aware,
he was the first man to say "under the cosh" on television.
They all use that now.
Yes, it's almost de rigeur, isn't it, for a sports commentator?
What does it mean, though?
It's a thing from fly fishing.
If you catch a trout,
you take it out of the water, you cosh it.
Oh, you bash it. Under the cosh.
So, if you're under a great deal of pressure, you're about to get bashed
about the head, you're under the cosh.
Dennis must definitely have felt like a trout just out of the water in that second session.
Father Jack's glasses would have been coming in for a little bit of stick, a little bit of ridicule.
Yes, they were always coming in for ridicule.
In fact, my father got a lot of ridicule when he first designed them.
But they were incredibly effective.
I remember Dennis worrying
about his eyesight was going,
and Dad said, well, "Try a pair of these clown's glasses on."
They suited Dennis well.
That's not bad.
I think there's only one way to say goodbye to you and that's just to say, "Good luck, mate."
Thank you very much!
# Don't you forget about me... #
I took a liberty,
a small liberty, with a ball down the rail into the green pocket.
He stretched across the table to pot a green.
If the green goes in the corner pocket, it's 9-0.
Well, Steve Davis there at full stretch, in fact, overstretched.
I potted the green to pink to win my first frame.
At last. One for Taylor, one out of nine.
The crowd all cheered in sort of, you know, relief.
Dennis, sort of, made fun in a way.
What can you do? You can only go, "Oh, great, I've won a frame." For the fun of it, relief as well.
And then the tide turned, and I collapsed.
Steve grew up in southeast London, and it was here at the Plumstead Working Man's Club where
a little scrawny 12-year-old first showed signs of what would be a remarkable career.
And where he learnt the game was on that bottom table playing billiards.
By rolling the ball up and down the table,
over the spots, backwards and forwards.
And by placing a ball somewhere near the middle hole
and going in off that ball, into the middle hole.
But controlling it so that that other ball that was on the table would come back into an almost identical spot.
Roy Kenwood tells me you spent every day as a kid on a billiard table,
rolling the ball just up and down.
Yeah, gee whizz! Well, the early days for me are practice.
About following the Joe Davis blueprint for the game.
My father was very much...
Not a disciplinarian, but a stickler for practice and technique.
He played snooker, of course.
We played snooker on this table,
But that's where he learnt the control of the ball,
the pace of the ball, direction into which it was going to go.
My father never told me to play snooker.
It was all of my drive.
He was just delighted that I liked the game.
Effectively we'd go down the club together, father and son.
I thought, at that stage, he would be the world billiard champion.
Yes, I did.
I came in here one night, and he said to me, "Do you want to see a 100 break, Roy?" I said, "Yeah."
And he placed two balls
on the cushions and the third one was there.
Vertically with your cue, two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve fourteen sixteen...a hundred.
You try and do it, the balls will... It's control.
My father would be fairly defensive about, "Don't go for the big shot, always play within yourself."
So if I pushed the boat out, as it's commonly known in the snooker commentary box, and went for a shot
that was risky, I'd always get the criticism afterwards.
Well, his father must have been doing something right, because with more than half a century
on the board, the man is still playing to the highest level.
You've just walked out at the Crucible for the 30th time, and got that love.
It's lovely. There are a lot of people obviously appreciate the world of snooker
and the characters in it, and the fact that...
That reception was quite amazing.
All I could say is, if it was me in the crowd and I'd watched
snooker all these years and there was somebody who'd done what I did,
I think I'd have to stand up and go, "Well, look - even if I didn't like you as a player,
It was 25 years ago that Steve Davis,
along with Dennis Taylor, had us on the edges of our seats.
Fast forward a quarter of a century and Davis is at it again.
Back in 1985, there wasn't much to shout about, really.
The miners' strike had just ended a month before the world snooker final,
and the country, I suppose you could say, was at war with itself.
And at the end of this time,
our people are suffering tremendous hardship.
So maybe Britain as a whole just needed a hero,
or at the very least a bit of escapism.
This is South Wales, it would have been a mining village.
All the mines are closed now.
So I doubt in April 1985 they cared a huge amount about a snooker final,
but there was one little boy lived out there called Mark Williams,
he was ten years old, he was the son of a miner and he would go on to
win two world titles, and I just have a feeling his memories might be a bit different.
So you're three years into your playing career,
you're one of the hottest prospects in Britain, you're about to win
your first youth trophy, but you didn't watch the 1985 final?
No, I can't remember watching it at the time.
There was the miners' strike and all that stuff happening with the miners' thing,
and there was a lot more important things happening at that time and I just didn't get to see it.
I used to go picketing with my old man and that.
There'd be 30, 40 people there kicking a football around,
all of a sudden this bus will come, going into the picket. It was like as if we'd turned into maniacs.
Throwing stones at the bus and just trying to stop it getting in, like. Incredible.
It's hard to understand when you're young, why didn't you just...
If they can go into work to get money, why don't you just do it as well?
But then at the time, you could get killed, like.
If you had been watching, on the Saturday night, the second session of that final,
Taylor came from eight down, and finished that session just 9-7 behind.
Both players then would have had to go to bed.
As someone who's been in these situations, what would have been in their head?
Well, the pressure reverses. Once you're eight frames behind,
you sit there, you must think to yourself... You can't win, really.
You're just going to try to make the score respectable.
You don't expect to win, and then all of a sudden
your arm loosens up, you start potting a few balls, making some breaks.
Steve Davis, I can't imagine, would have been the most popular snooker player in Cwm.
Probably not, because he used to win everything.
I mean, we're a good old country for not liking people winning. I think that's our trademark.
But at the end of the day, he's got more popular now he's losing.
The British sporting public do not warm to winners,
to people who win, day in, day out.
-Did that hurt you?
-A little bit.
Not much. Because I could understand it, because I'm also British.
# Move closer... #
-So, 29-all after 43 minutes of really dogged, dour snooker.
But some of the frames I won in the evening session,
I was winning them with a frame-winning breaks,
and the last six frames, I kept Steve in his seat for most of the evening.
# Move closer... #
Overnight, the score had been 9-7 to me,
and had it been 7-all and I'd won the last two frames.
It would have been a completely different night's sleep.
As it was... I stole, I think, a line from Colin Powell, which was,
"I slept like a baby - woke up screaming every half an hour."
What an awful... My world had collapsed.
So Mark Williams didn't even watch the 1985 final.
He's one of just a few, I would imagine.
There's a player who actually turned pro at the age of 16, the youngest ever in the game,
in its entire history, and he lives just round the corner from Stirling Castle.
He did all right after he turned pro.
He won seven world titles, so I think he'll have something to say.
You're eight frames up,
but you go to bed and you wake up that next morning
for the second day and it's 9-7. You're only two frames ahead.
What's going through Steve's head at that stage?
I wouldn't like that feeling, because I think it's 8-0 up.
He'd be wanting to get Dennis down and put his foot on his throat and just finish him off.
That's what I'd be thinking. Whether you like them or not, whether it's your best pal,
you want to really destroy them and humiliate them. That's what I was like.
But yeah, then you're thinking, "My God, what if I lose this now?"
So when you woke up on that Sunday morning, as it was, of the '85 final, end of session three,
-you would have been cheering on Steve Davis, then?
-Yeah. Very much so.
I've always been... In any sport I watch, I only want to see the best winning,
whether it be Steve Davis, Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher when I was into Formula One...
I wanted to see the best winning.
I've never been an underdog supporter.
-Stephen Hendry, as a kid, he wanted Steve Davis to win in '85.
Well, I think Ronnie O'Sullivan is the greatest player, then!
I think, by the third session, midway through, the nerves were there on both sides.
There was one moment when it was 10-8 to Steve Davis,
and Dennis Taylor had a dolly of a black
to win the frame and missed and went 11-8 down.
We all miss easy goals. I've been in hundreds of scrappy matches.
-Well, in almost any circumstances in the world, he would have potted that.
In these circumstances, it proved missable.
Looking back, I think there's probably been higher standards of snooker played in finals.
COMMENTATOR: Well, no rushing to the table for this fella.
He's already had two bites at the cherry and...
..appreciates just how important this black is.
# Everybody wants to rule the world... #
None of us had tickets for the final, so I queued up
and I managed to get the last ticket for the final session of the final.
But you completely forgot about mother and father,
so we had to spend the entire evening wondering what was going on, in the bar of the Grosvenor House Hotel.
The final? Well, I'll be honest - I never thought I'd be standing here tonight,
introducing this last session.
And you were with all the snooker journalists, drinking.
And the very latest news, at the end of the last session,
which didn't finish more than about half an hour ago, Davis leads 13 frames to 11.
18 are required to win the £60,000 cheque, so it'll be 11 to play.
Davis needs five and Taylor needs seven.
Those three sessions have gone into history now.
It's just down to the last one.
-Enjoy the match.
Steve Davis, defending snooker champion of the world, with Barry Hearn just going out.
He's never very far away, his manager.
You see sport 360 degrees, from the punters paying the money to get in
to the entertainment on the baize or on the oche, or wherever it might be.
But I think it's important to note that Steve Davis was your boy.
-So you go back to 1976.
-So for you, it wasn't just about the sport...
-..and the receipts.
So you must have been as tired as him, going into that last session.
Yeah. He was like family.
We were in this together and we beat the world.
If you go back to 1981, when he first won the World Championship,
that terrible scene of me celebrating, everything...
COMMENTATOR: Congratulations there to the Embassy world champion, Steve Davis, from his manager, Barry Hearn.
You have to understand the emotion.
I'd spent five years telling everyone I had the greatest player in the world,
-and he was my best friend, and we were going to kill everybody.
And that was not just me celebrating in '81 - it was vindication of everything that we'd both set for.
Steve and I would sit down in the early years and we would talk
about, what's it going to be like when we win the World Championship?
We would have tears rolling down our face. That was the intensity.
We wanted... Neither of us had anything, anything.
We wanted to be somebody in our chosen sport.
I'd like to thank all the people from Romford and from Plumstead Common Working Men's Club,
and everybody else all over the place.
Now, take that forward to '85, we were joined at the hip.
I'd have taken a bullet for Steve Davis.
He was so charismatic, whilst I was the total opposite,
but I did my job on the table and he did the best for me off the table, and we got on really well,
even though, in another walk of life,
I'd have probably been the last person he'd have ever befriended.
I wanted to be the manager of the world snooker champion who was also my best friend,
-so it wasn't a question of anyone else meant nothing at all.
And suddenly, all of these lovely laid-out plans became questioned,
by some smiling Irishman who isn't supposed to win.
It didn't happen in the rehearsals, in our head.
And how do we cope with this now?
Because he won't go away.
And he keeps laughing and he's smiling and he's cracking jokes in the intervals and we don't like him!
Trevor East was there, I mean Trevor was great.
Trevor was the Head of Sport with ITV at the time
and he was with me throughout the whole of that championship.
The mood in the dressing room had just
changed dramatically from the day before.
Dennis was cracking jokes.
It was light hearted, there was banter, a bit of fun,
a lot of laughter and basically Dennis knew that he'd almost got the game.
There was still a way to go, but by Davis' demeanour we could tell
that he was under pressure and the game had completely turned. It was there for Dennis' taking.
You could hear them. They was enjoying it.
There was laughter coming from his dressing room.
There was no laughter coming from ours. There never really was.
We were serious in our business.
-Taylor now needs snookers.
Davis won that first frame.
Momentum-wise and psychologically, you would imagine that was the perfect building point.
We couldn't have had a better start, but it still didn't mean anything because
the winning line wasn't there.
Had Davis won the frame after that, I think we would've been into Easy Street.
You won't see many better thought out shots to nothing than that.
Let's just pause for a minute and consider the art of snooker.
Michael Myers has done this oil painting of the last frame of the '85 final and I absolutely love it.
Every one of these lines is a shot played in the most famous frame of snooker ever.
All 111 of them.
It kind of hits home to me when I look at this that it's a science, playing snooker.
It's something you're naturally born with.
For the rest of us, we're just rubbish at it.
I think like most semi-mugs,
every now and then I'll do a shot that would've got spirited applause
at the grappledrome or whatever it's called.
But there is not a shot that I can't miss.
Even if it's on the very brink of the pocket and it's a straight shot...
I'm just as likely to go in with, or instead, that's the other one.
I'm lost in admiration for what they do out there and also the stamina.
How, after four or five frames, I'm exhausted and no longer thinking very straight.
And for them it must be a kind of
delirium of concentration.
It's fiercely psychological
and you're never so far ahead that it's over, until it's over.
This final is now heading for
a very thrilling climax.
I'm here in East London's Theatreland to speak to actress, Cathy Murphy.
You may know her from programmes such as Shameless, EastEnders and Extras.
She's got a very different take on events 25 years ago.
Let me take you back to 10:15 on 29th April 1985.
You would have been one of the few people in all of Britain not happy
when you tuned into BBC2 to see Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis.
No, not really because I was 17 and I was in a BBC production called
Bleak House and it was my first big break and I was really excited,
sitting round with my family and my then boyfriend to see Bleak House...
Miss Summerson, Miss Summerson, It's Mr Skimpole, miss.
He's been took. Mr Carson said would you come?
-Has Mrs Skimpole been taken ill?
-Took, Miss. Sudden.
And instead this snooker match went on and on and on.
And I think it finished at about 12:15, which meant
Bleak House started at 12:15 and who's going to watch it then?
So I wasn't best pleased!
AUDIENCE MEMBERS CALL OUT
Shouting out upsets the player's concentration.
Please don't do it.
The 1985 Sports Personality Of The Year was an Irishman
but it wasn't to be Dennis Taylor, it was Barry McGuigan.
He too from a small town in Ireland, the underdog taking on the machine
and by the time Christmas 1985 came about, both of them shared a massive affinity.
What is it about the Irish where they have to be underdogs?
I mean, Dennis never laid against Steve, he was 17-15 down at this stage
and he's got to win the last three frames, no more room for error.
Why do the Irish thrive when we're against the wall?
Lots of people say snooker players aren't real athletes,
but the level of concentration that they need
and all the people in the auditorium screaming and shouting,
he just showed phenomenal powers of recovery and fightback.
Your father was this huge inspiration to you.
Unfortunately, Dennis had this backdrop of just losing his mother
who was his inspiration and he might not have lifted a cue again.
It happened with you when you lost your father, and with him when he lost his mother.
Do you believe in it? The fate of it?
I believe my dad's in a better place and I believe my brother
who committed suicide in '94, I believe they are with me.
I believe that when times get tough...
And it's interesting, I watched Dennis between those frames and I watched him as he sat down.
And I looked and thought, "What is going through his mind?"
What is he thinking about? Is he thinking, "Mum, where are you?"
You know, "Come and give me the strength," or whatever.
But he was able to garner
the strength and the psychology and the toughness of mind and the sureness to make those decisions.
Those little incremental mistakes that can destroy you.
Tell me a little bit about the media.
It wasn't just about what you were doing in the ring or at the table, was it?
-There were so many other connotations. People wanted to know your politics...
I was just sick to death of it.
It was a tragic time for Northern Ireland. Everywhere you went,
it was just so intimidating, so frightening.
I thought, the one thing I want to do is bring people together.
I'm not going to wear any colours.
I didn't want to have anybody label me and I wouldn't do that.
I suppose a certain section of the community wouldn't have liked that,
but I didn't care about those. They weren't my supporters.
Dennis was exactly the same and he was such a lovely man.
Such a great representative and everybody wanted him to do well and be successful.
In modern sport there are so many arrogant sportsmen and cocky and conceited people.
The world is full of that.
And ordinary Joe on the street doesn't like that sort of arrogance.
They can put up with it for a time, but after a while...
My old man used to say, "Just keep it simple, son."
Make as many friends as you can on the way up
because, you see, when you're on your way down they don't go, "Oh!" and let you slide down.
I enjoy people and I enjoy company
and it's difficult for me to be rude to people.
It's exactly the same with Dennis.
Regardless of any religion, people in Northern Ireland,
-in all of Ireland were on their feet for Dennis and were backing him.
-Without a doubt.
I'm 325 miles from the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
I'm in Coalisland, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, home of Dennis Taylor.
In this snooker club, that's where he cut his teeth.
I tell you why I'm here, I'm interested to find out the inspiration,
the strength that he got to come back again and again and again in the '85 final against the machine.
Brenda's his sister. I've met her before and her husband Seamus.
Should have a welcoming committee.
Was he a bit of an absentee brother in terms of...
You would know where to find him if you needed him but he would come straight down here?
You'd find him in the snooker hall.
What he did do was
he would have come down and he would've played a game of snooker.
He didn't have any money so the boys would have given him a cigarette.
He didn't smoke, he never did.
He would have played for a cigarette,
so he used to bring the cigarette home to Mum, Mum smoked,
and she would give him threepence for the cigarette.
So he would come down and play another game of snooker.
-That's how he got his money to play snooker.
-What was it like in here,
his own snooker club, on the night of the final session?
I mean, you mustn't have been able to move.
It was one of those moments you say to yourself,
"Am I really here? Is it really happening?"
This was someone from your own town. A chance to be world champion.
Everybody was engrossed in it. It was unbelievable, an absolutely unbelievable atmosphere.
The actual lead-up to it, you couldn't write the script for it.
Not in that particular world final. I don't there's been one like it since.
All the rest of my sisters and brothers and brothers-in-law
all went to the final.
They were all over there.
I stayed at home with Dad.
I have to own up because I was whistling.
The referee had pointed to me to the stewards who put me out.
WHISTLES FROM AUDIENCE
MAN SPEAKS INAUDIBLY ..Straight through the door. Whoever it is.
Luckily enough I apologised to the stewards.
-They kept you in.
-I got to stay on.
If you could be honest with me, Piers, were you thinking,
you know, "He has had his chance...
"He's done the town proud but it's another step too far...
"He can't possibly pull another frame back, let alone three"?
We're from Coalisland, you see. We have great faith.
And it's there.
And the audience is as thrilled as Dennis Taylor as he saves the match.
Now one frame behind at 17-16.
I knew at 17-15 that I really... Your back's against the wall.
But I had to pull all the stops out but I think at that stage what helped me
was I'd won six frames the night before, so you're saying to yourself, "Listen, if I can win six frames,
"there's no reason why I can't win three," and that's what you're telling yourself.
You forget sometimes how great Dennis is as a player,
and how great snooker he was playing at that period of his career
and to come back, it shows you the character of the man.
Steve Davis then concedes that particular frame and Dennis Taylor, a very satisfied Irishman,
sits there with the frames all square. 17 each.
I'm in The Working Men's Club in Cricklewood
and the final's just gone 17-17.
The bar steward is not happy.
He comes from behind the bar, up to the TV and switches it off and we're all gobsmacked.
So up I get, there's a few murmurs like,
I put my finger on the TV on/off button,
and I hear in the background, "McBride,
"you turn that TV on and you'll be up in front of the committee by Wednesday, that I promise you."
I'm thinking, "What do I do? I can't miss this."
So I switch it on. I sit back down, I get a big round of applause and we carry on watching the final.
Next night, up I go for a pint and a game of snooker and there's a letter on the door for me.
Open up the letter, true to his word, I'm in front of the committee on the Wednesday.
Up I go on the Wednesday. Barred me for three months.
John Williams refereed every frame of the '85 final and I think he had the best seat in the house.
I say best seat - he wasn't allowed to sit down!
John, you've announced the beginning of a million frames,
but I would imagine none as intense as the 35th frame of the '85 final?
So tell me, at the start of that 35th frame,
who did you think was going to win the title?
I honestly and sincerely haven't got a clue.
I just wanted it finished.
The world champion puts the cue ball right underneath the bulk cushion.
When I was under extreme pressure
I used to get a little bit red in the face.
And that last frame, I remember looking at Steve and Steve was going the opposite.
They were going greyer by the minute.
Whereas you had two fairly young gentlemen playing a snooker match,
suddenly they seemed to get to middle age and then it looked like old age.
Their faces were changing and they just...
Really, I think would have preferred to have been anywhere except there for that final frame.
When you get to a one frame shoot-out, all you are thinking is,
"Let me get a chance early on."
Just please let me get one chance.
I don't want to have to spend the last frame sitting in the seat.
Any mistake now, very expensive.
This is the final frame of the world championship, 1985.
I couldn't even bear to watch it in the sitting room. I couldn't bear to stay on the settee.
I was actually behind the door in the hall watching through that narrow crack in the door,
with a hat right down over my head and every so often I would lift it up just to see how he was doing.
Every time I watched on telly,
Dennis would miss.
And it got to the point and my wife Linda was with me, that I would go out the room.
And she'd say, "No, Davis has missed!"
And he's missed it!
Just out of our depth. Frightened rabbits in the headlights.
I suppose it was destined to go to the last ball.
It was just destined, because I don't think we made a 10 break.
Steve Davis. 5.
I think I'd rather have one of my teeth pulled out without anaesthetic
than watch any part of that final.
I remember, God rest his soul, the great Cliff Wilson,
the Welsh professional who was a great potter.
I remember him saying, he said, "I've never seen safety like that."
There was a spell in that match
where we kept flicking balls along the top cushion,
hitting them very thin, so you wouldn't push it over a pocket.
Our safety was good.
Well, a terrific shot from Dennis Taylor there from that position.
I had the job of presenting the Youth Cup each year.
And Dennis won it
two years running, I think.
And the next year, another boy from the class beat him.
And he took it very badly.
He wanted to win. Dennis wanted to win.
Concentration written all over his face.
Looking for his first world title.
Never rushed himself, you know?
He had his own pace.
Even in football he was the same.
He took his own thing at his own pace, but always got there.
If someone who you admire and look at thinks they can do it,
you think to yourself, "I can do it too."
I had to pot the ball into the yellow pocket, run off side and
bottom cushion, come back up the table, past a ball that was covering.
I underhit it fractionally, and I was using the rest.
And I started to grip hold of the rest tighter and tighter.
And we had a fight over the rest.
I might have won it then. That could have been that close.
I was trying to run Take Your Pick in the back room.
I had two runners.
Every shot was played, you know, "He's making another break."
The worst place that Steve can finish is straight on the green.
Somebody was saying, "Forget about Take Your Pick."
So I just downed everything, came out and couldn't get near the TV.
Couldn't even see the TV.
Steve Davis's focus was amazing.
I remember him fluking the green,
and he just stiffly walked round the table and carried on as if nothing had happened.
Steve wasn't really a human being, he was a machine.
Steve Davis was built, trained, educated to win snooker tournaments.
And he was a well-oiled machine.
18 points in it.
22 points on the table.
This frame now has been going 55 minutes.
The longest frame of the final.
It was a very exciting match, and 17-year-olds don't really like snooker,
but I had to watch it because I wanted to watch what was after it.
When we got to the brown, I had made my mind up then,
this was probably the last chance to win the world title.
"Have a go at whatever is there.
"If it's any sort of chance, have a go at it."
Dennis had a go.
Very tense moments here now at the Crucible Theatre.
The atmosphere in the place was alive.
It was absolutely buzzing.
You were seen often talking to yourself on TV.
People thought you'd been touched with madness at some stages, because it had been going on for that long.
Well, it was a mixture of both.
I was having a little quiet chat to my mum, but that, probably the muttering would have been...
And Steve's friends, who were up in the gods, I couldn't see them.
We used to call them the Romford crowd.
They used to travel with Steve.
They were all nice blokes, but there used to be seven or eight of them.
And they were up there, and they had this Romford chant, you know?
When you made a mistake,
you heard it coming from the gods. "Come on, Steve. Come on, my son."
And they really did get me a little bit angry, angry enough to keep me going without cracking completely.
Moving the black just might help Dennis. He wants the four balls.
He could afford to go for the pot, he only wanted the one ball.
He was 33-1 prior to the World Championships.
Myself and a fella from down here called Brendan Campbell, we had a £10 bet on.
So, he wasn't going to lose. Because we couldn't afford to lose £10.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The brown that I potted down the cushion
was one of the best shots I think I've ever played.
Under that sort of pressure.
And then I'm left with a tricky blue.
At this stage, the crowd were just... It was incredible.
And the pink was quite difficult as well.
The final frame, the final black.
I don't know why, why I went and kissed the little lady
on the top of the trophy before I took the double on, on the black.
I don't know to this day why I did that.
It must have been, "I'm going to win you here with this shot, or I'm going to lose you."
-It was an unbelievably brave/foolish shot to take on?
I know, if I go for the double and miss it,
at least I've gone down trying to pull a double off.
I have never known an atmosphere like this.
Thank you once again, please.
John Williams, our referee, trying to keep the crowd in order.
I didn't want anybody in particular to win.
I just wanted a winner.
And, if you like, "Let's all go home."
A good one.
You can train and practise all you like, but I think sometimes
you get to a maximum pressure, and you can't get any more than maximum.
And maximum is enough for anybody.
I'm sure Dennis wouldn't mind my saying, he chanced his arm.
And he's come out lucky.
The fascinating thing about snooker is, sometimes the best
tension type snooker is the stuff where people are missing.
When it's 100 break, 100 break, 100 break, and nobody is missing a ball, no tension.
Really, in its own way, there is no tension.
Everybody starts missing, the crowd get at it as well.
So, the crowd's at it, I'm at it, everybody's at it.
Nobody can hold their arms still.
That was the biggest shot of his life.
What a twitch. I missed that black by so far,
it nearly came up and in the pocket I was leaning over.
I went back to my seat, and I thought, "There is no way Steve Davis will miss the black."
I always get a bit upset, people think it was closer than it was.
But, you know, the black was miles away from the pocket...
No, it was pottable.
I thought, "Right, I've just got to keep everything together."
It's not your cue, not your legs, not your arms.
You've just got to deliver it straight.
When Davis has to cut the black in, of course, this is Davis, OK?
So, I said, "I'm going to bed.
My wife shouted, "He's missed it!" I couldn't believe it.
Hope is what happens. You go, "Hope."
And then, "Oh...dear."
CROWD SHOUT EXCITEDLY
I can't comprehend it now, that he missed it, because that isn't Steve.
The one thing Steve has got, apart from his ability to play the game, is a wonderful temperament.
This is really unbelievable.
The way Dennis Taylor shaped to take that shot, he took forever to
make up his mind that he was going to pot it.
He didn't break, and Steve broke on that last ball.
And that was just unbelievable.
He's done it!
CROWD CHEERS WILDLY
Dennis Taylor, for the first time, becomes Embassy World Snooker Champion 1985.
He took that final black, which was the first time he'd been in front in the whole match.
It lingers in the memory so much, because it went on so long
and one of the players came from 8-0 down,
to win on the final black in the final frame over 35 frames.
The whole place here at the Crucible erupting for this very popular Irishman.
You can't help but like Dennis, so you're quite pleased for him,
wagging his finger when you wanted to smack him straight in the nose!
That was at me. And all he was saying was, "I told you I could do it!"
And a sad champion
Steve Davis looks on.
Having someone giving it all this, kissing the trophy, and you're sat in the corner.
Then David Vine says, "How do you feel?"
-Can you believe what's happened tonight yet?
-Yeah, it happened in black and white.
What did people want him to say?
A fabulous picture, of a very happy and popular man.
The first thought was, "I'm World Champion!"
After all these years, I've become World Champion
and it's a very, very special feeling. And then, after that,
I had no idea what was going to happen.
It was the end.
There were no more balls. 17 days of playing for one ball at the end.
And you can't do anything about it.
And you've messed it up.
And that's snooker.
I suppose you look back on it 25 years later, sitting here now,
and have immense love for that occasion?
Well, my thoughts, obviously, being the type of animal I am, I immediately signed Dennis Taylor.
Which I think sort of sums me up perfectly, really, doesn't it?
It was great. And Steve said, "Thanks, mate(!)"
And I had a few letters from his fans saying, "How could you?"
I said, "There's a bigger picture here."
De-nnis, De-nnis, De-nnis!
It's a very small town. What did it mean for this place and its proud tradition,
the pictures that adorn the wall of hundreds and hundreds of snooker players?
To have one win a world title?
It was maybe one of the biggest sporting moments in that particular year, and maybe the years since.
As soon as he potted the black ball, we all became involved in that. You know, we were part of that.
I had that good faith that Mummy was behind him, and that she would see him through to the final.
-Which she did.
-So that was constantly on your mind, then?
The whole way through, when you were sitting in the Crucible,
you knew it wasn't really about lifting that trophy?
We were thinking, "He could be world champion,"
and you, the family and Dennis were thinking something completely different.
He's thinking that it's for her.
It's not so much exactly the World Champion, or whatever he's going to be,
it's going to be a win for Mummy, and he did it.
It's weird that people have won that title, Stephen Hendry seven times, Steve Davis six times,
but for some reason, winning it just that once seems to be...
Once was enough for Dennis. He said, "You only have to win it the once."
You win it the once to be remembered, but it's one that will never be forgotten.
I think, because of the situation, being on the black ball.
Everybody knows where they were when Dennis won the World Championships in '85.
-And done with dignity?
-With dignity, it was.
Dennis Taylor, snooker champion of the world.
What did you say?
I'll tell you what,
it's a good job the black was over the pocket!
But, well, I don't know, that's definitely
one of the greatest matches I've ever been involved in in my life.
Has anything like that ever happened in a match before to you?
-Have you gone through anything like that, emotion and tension?
To beat Steve Davis, who's been the best player in the world,
you know, there's not a lot more you can say, really.
Well, I'm the best THIS year.
Ladies and gentlemen, Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor, who have created a wonderful match here tonight.
I think we both realised we were involved, there have been some great, great matches,
and some great moments in snooker.
To win it in the way I did was like winning four world titles, that, all wrapped up in one.
People get what they deserve. He's a grafter. He grafted.
Got himself back, worked on his technique a bit.
Never gave up. What more can you ask for? Well done, Den.
The 1985 Embassy Snooker Champion of the World, with a cheque for £60,000, and the trophy, Dennis Taylor!
I would need so much more than 59 minutes to fill you in about everything that I have learnt
on my journey across Britain and Ireland to discover the real story of the '85 final.
But, here's a couple of gems I haven't yet managed to fit in.
I've learned that David Icke, despite having 30,000 people
in his social networking group, doesn't do crowds.
Me? I don't do groups, I don't do groups.
I've learned that winners not only detest losing, but have very little time for losers.
You guys are going out to lunch today, courtesy of my bloody puggy.
If he had a bit of bottle about him, he would have won seven world titles.
I learned that one Northern Irish champion made a future one late for training.
I was late for training the next day.
I don't think anybody minded, because most of the sparring partners were watching it anyway.
I've learned that Ma'am is a snooker fan.
She said she did follow the game of snooker on the box.
And I knew that the Duke of Edinburgh did, because they had a table put in at Buckingham Palace.
I've learned that Dennis Taylor, just before the final frame, nipped out to use "the toilet".
17-17, Dennis left the arena, beckoned me to follow him.
I never really thought we were going out to talk tactics or something.
In fact, we just had a quick nip of brandy to calm the nerves.
I've also learnt it's a bad idea to bet your student grant on a snooker match.
It meant that I had to leave my rented accommodation,
because I couldn't afford to pay them.
And I had to sleep in a tent in Harlow Park for a month.
In the coldest spring for 50 years.
You know what I learned, above everything?
It's how much it still means to people.
No shortage of people who want to talk about it.
And also, I think in both of your eyes, coming to the end
of the journey and interviewing both of you, that you still feel it?
So, I'm thinking 25 years, it's a long time, right?
A quarter of a century. I'm just wondering, 25 years later,
just us three.
We do it again? The final frame?
-That would be good.
-You've got nothing to lose.
Let me just think.
I'd love to do it again.
What do you think? There's just us.
-We've got the table here, it's set up.
They created a piece of, not just snooker history, but great British sporting drama.
Any sportsman gives us something that goes into our memory banks,
gives us a warm feeling that says, "You know, I was ever so glad I saw that. That was a bit special."
And, you know what,
that WAS a bit special.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
A look back at one of British sport's golden moments - the 1985 World Championship Snooker final. At its peak, over 18 and a half million people sat glued to their sets as Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor battled past midnight to a final and deciding black ball, with over 18 million viewers watching, BBC Two's biggest ever audience.
Colin Murray journeys around the UK filling in the gaps on the first time that he was allowed to see the other side of midnight. Along the way he finds answers to questions such as where did Dennis's 'upside-down glasses' actually come from? What really went on behind those dressing room doors? How do you spread good news in a world without mobile phones? And how different would the lives of the two protagonists have been if the result had been reversed that night?
Contributions from, amongst others, Barry McGuigan, David Icke, Ted Lowe, Stephen Hendry and Barry Hearn.