Steve Davis says farewell after Crucible exit

Six-time world snooker champion Steve Davis has announced his retirement.

Davis (58) lost to Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien in the first round of qualifying for this year’s World Championship and decided that would be his final match.

“That was my last match as a professional,” Davis said on the BBC. “So I’m calling it a day.

“I phoned up Barry (Hearn, his long-time manager) and told him it was on my mind to enter the World Championship and make that the last. I said, ‘Barry, I think it’s time to retire from professional snooker’.

“And he said, ‘Steve, you retired 10 years ago we just didn’t have the heart to tell you’.”

An emotional Davis took a bow in front of the Crucible crowds with the World Championship trophy yesterday.

The death of his father, Bill, in late March came after Davis had reached his decision. Bill Davis had introduced his son to snooker.

Davis said: “It came to my mind that perhaps it was the right time to stop. And my father wasn’t very well. So I entered, for him, this year’s World Championship. He was still alive when I entered, then he passed away, so I played the match against Fergal. That was the only match I ever played without him.”

He said: “My memory’s not that great so the one five years ago beating John Higgins was the most amazing match I’ve ever played. When you’re not supposed to win, then you do... I walked up from here (the Crucible) to the Winter Gardens to be interviewed and that was one amazing moment.”

Despite his many trophies, Davis will be remembered by many as the man beaten by Dennis Taylor in the 1985 Crucible final, when his missed black at the end of the deciding frame was watched by a record TV audience of 18.5 million viewers. Taylor potted the black to win snooker’s most famous match.

On Hearn, Davis said: “I think he realised I should have retired ages ago.

“He realised it was just habit really. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I would have been as successful. Not because he gave me anything other than back-up. I learnt from him in lots of ways. I fell on my feet and maybe he fell on his feet as well when we met up together. It was a very strong partnership.

“It’s sad that era has come to an end, but I think only happy things.”

Meanwhile Anthony McGill set his sights on winning the World Championship after seeing off last year’s runner-up Shaun Murphy to claim his third major Crucible scalp.

After posting stellar wins over Stephen Maguire and Mark Selby to reach the quarter-finals on his debut Sheffield mission 12 months ago, this time the 25-year-old Scot dumped out Murphy in the same way Ali Carter dispatched defending champion Stuart Bingham on Saturday night.

As Murphy headed for home, beaten 10-8 and joining Bingham on the first-round casualty list, McGill dared to dream.

“I possibly could win it,” he said. “But it’d be nice to better last year’s result.”

Breathtaking scoring from McGill saw the 25-year-old plunder breaks of 64, 85, 81, 50, 117, and a closing 97 to roar back from 6-4 adrift and triumph.

A tough second-round match against in-form Marco Fu comes on Thursday.

After winning through three qualifying rounds, McGill was tuned up for match conditions.

He said: “The difference between top players and qualifiers is very, very marginal. Qualifiers winning matches doesn’t surprise me. It might surprise the public but it doesn’t surprise the players.”

Despite struggling in the year since his first Crucible run, McGill looked in terrific form and he takes inspiration wherever he looks inside the arena.

“You see it on the TV and when you’re out there playing you think, ‘That’s where Ronnie (O’Sullivan) stood when he made his 147’, or ‘That’s where Stephen (Hendry) must have walked on this bit of carpet’. It’s an honour to be there. I just think it’s perfect.”

Murphy’s good news at home — his wife is due on Thursday — has given him a new appreciation for where snooker belongs in life’s priorities.

Murphy said: “I’m obviously disappointed but I think the fact I’ve a child on the way has changed my perspective on a lot of things.

“It’s just a game of snooker. I played really well and my preparation couldn’t have been better, but unfortunately I played against someone who played even better than I did on the day. I thought it was a great match. While practising my long potting I’ll have to work on my nappy skills.”

Elsewhere Robbie Williams eked out a 5-4 advantage over Ricky Walden.


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