Salute the hotshots!

World Snooker Final 1982'Jimmy White and Alex Higgins

World Snooker Final 1982'Jimmy White and Alex Higgins

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PLENTY has changed since the 1970s, of course.

The prize money has gone up, the smoking has gone down and Willie Thorne has long since admitted defeat and cut off his comb-over.

But as the World Snooker Championship broke off at The Crucible this weekend one thing remains the same – and Retro doesn’t mean the apparently irresistible urge of the winner to pose with the trophy lid on his head.

No.

This month the tournament celebrates its landmark 35th year at The Crucible and what has not changed since 1977 is the excitement still felt by fans and players alike.

Mark Williams possibly excepted.

“There is so much history associated with the Crucible,” says World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn.

“It is synonymous with snooker and the World Championship. There’s something unique and magic about the atmosphere in the arena which couldn’t be replicated anywhere else.

“The vast majority of people involved in snooker would say the same.”

Certainly Sheffield fans do.

Among their most cherished memories are Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins breaking down in tears after winning the 1982 final, Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor slogging it out until the early hours in 1985, and that bloke streaking in 1998.

Other defining moments include Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan’s smashing a five minute 20 second 147 break in 1997, John Spencer winning the inaugural Crucible title in 1977 and Stephen Hendry refusing to let anyone else have a go at being champion during the Nineties.

“He’s brilliant,” says super-fan Marcus Schofield, who has been attending the tournament for 30 years. “But seeing Steve Davis win so many finals was brilliant too.”

And the 37-year-old business and magazines manager of Mosborough adds: “Watching snooker on telly is so different from actually being at the Crucible.

“As the players come out the cheers for stars like Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan are always the loudest and can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

“The tension can be unbelievable. During some games you feel like you’re playing every shot.”

The tournament – which was held at various venues between 1927 and 1977 – will remain here until 2015 at least.

And then?

“We’ve had fantastic support from Sheffield City Council, Welcome to Yorkshire and the BBC,” says Barry Hearn. “And as long as that continues I’d be happy to keep the event at the Crucible until the day I die.”

Sheffield snooker fans would no doubt be happy with that too.