1985 World Snooker Championship final
|Steve Davis (ENG)||Dennis Taylor (NIR)|
(1981, 1983, 1984)
|27 years old||36 years old|
|World Ranking: 1||World Ranking: 11|
|Referee: John Williams.|
The 1985 World Snooker Championship final, commonly known as the black ball final, was a snooker match played on the weekend of 27/28 April 1985 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England. It was contested between defending World Champion Steve Davis and Northern Irishman Dennis Taylor, appearing in his second final. Taylor produced a determined comeback to win the match on the final ball of the final frame, sealing his only world title. The result was a major shock, as Davis was the heavy favourite, having won three of the previous four world championships. The final frame was one of the most exciting ever seen on TV and Taylor's comeback was one of the most notable in the history of sport.
The event was in the eighth year of the BBC's coverage of the event, and snooker was reaching the zenith of its popularity. The climax of the final in the early hours of a Monday morning was watched by 18.5 million people in the United Kingdom, which remains a record for BBC2, and also remains a record post-midnight audience for any channel in the United Kingdom. The total match time of 14 hours 50 minutes is the longest best-of-35-frame match.
Road to final
|Steve Davis (ENG)||Round||Dennis Taylor (NIR)|
|Neal Foulds||10–8||First round||Silvino Francisco||10–2|
|David Taylor||13–4||Second round||Eddie Charlton||13–6|
|Cliff Thorburn||13–5||Quarter-finals||Terry Griffiths||13–6|
|Ray Reardon||16–5||Semi-finals||Tony Knowles||16–5|
The early frames
Davis, who had been ranked the world number one for two years, and would remain in that position for another five, was strong favourite going into the event. He whitewashed Taylor in the first session and won the first of the second session to lead 8–0, before Taylor won the ninth frame on the pink. Taylor then won six of the next seven frames to trail only 7–9 overnight.
Going into the final session, Davis had won two of the first three frames to lead 11–8, before Taylor levelled the match at 11–11. Davis won the next two frames on the final black to lead 13–11, before Taylor drew level at 15–15. Davis then won the next two frames to lead 17–15 again, before Taylor drew level at 17–17 and forced the deciding frame.
The black-ball finish
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (September 2012)|
The 35th and final frame lasted 68 minutes. In the last and deciding frame Davis led 62–44, with only the last four colours on the table, worth 22 points. Taylor stayed in contention by potting a very difficult brown from long range, followed by a tricky blue and pink. This meant that, for the first time, the title would be decided on the very last ball, the black. Taylor tried to double it into the left middle pocket; he missed but the ball rebounded to a safe position at the top of the table. Davis then played an excellent safety shot, putting the black near the middle of the baulk (bottom) cushion and leaving the cue ball near the right-hand cushion, a little above the corner pocket. Taylor then half-attempted to double the black into the top-left corner pocket but missed, with the black rebounding up and down the table, eventually sneaking past the left middle pocket to a relatively safe position. As the applause died down from the audience, veteran commentator Ted Lowe remarked, "I'm sure Dennis wouldn't mind my saying he chanced his arm, and it's come out lucky". Davis' next attempt went awry, as a double-kiss left Taylor with a reasonable middle-distance pot to the green corner pocket. However, he snatched somewhat at the shot and missed the pot ("the biggest shot of his life", as commentator Jim Meadowcroft described it). Taylor thought, in his disappointment, that he had left Davis a moderately easy cut on the black into the top pocket from fairly close range. However, that pot was at a thinner angle than Taylor had anticipated as he tried to judge where the balls would finish up.
To everyone's surprise, Davis over-cut the black (albeit into a blind pocket), leaving Taylor a fairly straightforward half-ball pot on the black into the same pocket from mid-distance. This time the Ulsterman, stretching a fraction to avoid having to use the rest, made no mistake and sunk the black ball on this his fourth shot. As the audience erupted, one of snooker's greatest-ever comebacks was complete at 12.19 a.m. on a Monday morning (29 April 1985). Much was made of Lowe's understated commentary, simply uttering a surprised "No!" when Davis missed his final shot and a joyful "He's done it!" when Taylor potted the black.
In contrast to an ashen-faced Davis, Taylor's unrestrained joy – kissing the trophy, cue-thumping, finger-wagging, and holding his cue aloft whilst hundreds of camera flashes popped around him – has become part of World Championship history. Such was the extraordinary nature of Taylor's comeback that, uniquely, at no stage of the entire final was he ahead of Davis until he potted the black that won him the championship.
Davis went on to lose the following year's final to Joe Johnson, before winning three in a row to give him six in total. Davis and Taylor would meet once more at the World Championship in 1991, with Davis this time winning comfortably 13-7 in the quarter-final. Taylor never reached the final again, but did win the Masters in 1987, again producing a memorable comeback this time against Alex Higgins.
Davis has since come to terms with the defeat, allowing himself to joke about it, and admitting that he will probably be remembered more for the final he didn't win in 1985 than for the six he did. Both players now commentate on BBC's snooker coverage and are often reminded of that match. The black-ball finish was voted the ninth greatest sporting moment of all time in a 2002 Channel 4 poll.
During the 2010 World Championship, Taylor and Davis 're-created' the final frame of the 1985 final. The "rerun", which was done in a distinctly irreverent manner, was noticeable for the fact that all but one of their attempts to replicate missed shots on the black failed, and ironically the only attempt on the black, that they did miss, was the one that Taylor actually potted in the original match. BBC Two aired a one-hour documentary on the final, Davis v Taylor: The '85 Black Ball Final, presented by Colin Murray, after the conclusion of the coverage of the 2010 final.
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- Steve Davis vs Dennis Taylor World Championship Final 1985 on YouTube
- Closing minutes of epic final frame on BBC News