Snooker’s greatest game – The Black Ball Final

In one corner, all-conquering Steve Davis, the defending champion and three time winner.

In the other, the guy with the upside-down glasses.

The result was a world snooker final that would ring through the ages.

Dominant Davis

Steve Davis
Steve Davis made a stunning start to the world final (PA Archive)

Davis, a red-hot favourite at the start of the 1985 tournament, had been tested by somewhat Neal Foulds in the opening round, but had subsequently booked his place back in the final by sweeping aside former winners Terry Griffiths and Ray Reardon.

Taylor, a finalist in 1979, had beaten his own pair of ex-champions in Eddie Charlton and Cliff Thorburn en route, before hammering Tony Knowles 16-5 in the semi-finals to suggest he posed a threat to the reigning champion.

Davis establishes mighty lead

Dennis Taylor
Dennis Taylor was a huge underdog against the defending champion (PA Archive)

A post-midnight finale seemed a distant dream as Davis raced into an 8-0 lead, only missing the chance to further extend his lead when he missed a cut on the green in the following frame.

It proved to be a remarkable turning point, as Taylor stormed back to trail only 9-7 overnight, and had hauled the match level at 11-11 in the first session on the following day.


Dennis Taylor
Dennis Taylor held his nerve to sink the final black (PA Archive)

Davis looked to have regained his composure when he moved one frame from victory at 17-15. But Taylor again clawed his way back to force the final frame decider – a 68-minute showdown that would fall to the final ball.

Watched by a record post-midnight television audience of 18.5 million, Taylor missed the first chance, a double, before leaving Davis a relatively simple cut into the bottom pocket for the title.

“No!” gasped ‘Whispering’ Ted Lowe in the commentary box, as Davis proceeded to over-cut it. Taylor duly potted the black into the same pocket, and shook his cue above his head in celebration.

An enduring double-act

Steve Davis
The careers of Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor remained forever intertwined (Andrew Matthews/PA Archive)

“Steve and myself were part of snooker history together,” Taylor told the PA news agency when Davis announced his retirement in 2016.  “I was the lucky one with the big upside-down glasses who potted the black, but snooker was the real winner that night.”

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