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John Parrott’s 1991 World Championship triumph: 30 Years On – Part Four

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John Parrott’s 1991 World Championship triumph: 30 Years On – Part Three

Parrott pictured with the trophy between Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis (Photo by Malcolm Croft/PA Archive/PA Images)

There was set to be a new name on the World Snooker Championship trophy as John Parrott went head to head with Jimmy White in the 1991 Crucible final.

This was Parrott’s second time appearing in snooker’s biggest match, having suffered a comprehensive 18-3 drubbing from the irrepressible Steve Davis two years earlier.

But the world number three had exacted his revenge on the Nugget in the semi-finals, prevailing a commanding 16-10 winner.

A second-round decider with Neal Foulds aside, White had enjoyed a fairly smooth passage to his third Crucible final – and the second of five in a row he would contest during the 1990s.

The Whirlwind dropped just three frames against Nick Dyson and Gary Wilkinson, before seeing off Steve James 16-9 in the last four.

Parrott knew he would have his work cut out playing the people’s champion, as well as the partisan Crucible crowd.

But having seen a slow start gradually get worse against Davis in the 1989 final, he ensured there would be no repeat of that two years on.

Indeed, a flying start from the Liverpudlian saw breaks of 97, 75, 88, 74 and 117 establish a commanding 7-0 lead at the conclusion of the opening session.

“It’s like playing one of those big matches in Europe away from home – like going straight to the San Siro or Bernabeu,” Parrott told Live Snooker.

“If he gets off to a good start, you’re playing Jimmy, the crowd and everyone at home.

“I had my game head on and was determined to get a proper start.

“In the most important time, it was the best snooker I could ever have hoped to play. I think I missed one or two balls in the entire opening session.

“When you’re playing somebody and they’re playing that well, you just know you can’t hide the white. It puts pressure on your safety; not just your potting.

“After that, I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it’s a lot easier when you’re 7-0 up.”

Although White fought back during the evening session, Parrott remained well in control at 11-5 to the good heading into the final day.

Despite needing just seven frames to don the Crucible crown, it still proved a restless night for the 26-year-old.

But after White cut the deficit to 11-7, his fears were eased when he snatched the third frame of the day on the black to restore his authority on proceedings.

“If you want a venue to mess with your head, welcome to the Crucible!” he said.

“I woke up and said to my wife: ‘I hope I don’t cock this up; I’ll never forgive myself!’

“It wasn’t a great way of going about it, but it demonstrates what goes through your head when you’re heading into that final day.

“There was one frame during the third session that was absolutely massive.

“We were coming towards the interval and he missed the blue with the rest to make it 11-8.

“I ended up nicking the frame off him and it was a major body blow; that was probably the end of it.”

Thereon, Parrott continued to plug away and protect his healthy advantage as he edged closer to the target of 18 frames.

The Liverpudlian moved to the brink of victory at 17-11 up, before a nerveless break of 49 in the next frame was enough for him to seal the deal.

Parrott felt a huge weight lift from his shoulders as he realised his life’s ambition of becoming World champion, while pocketing a cheque for £135,000.

And understanding the sheer mental strength that was required for him to be the last man standing at the end of the marathon, he saluted those that have triumphed at the Crucible on several occasions.

“I was totally focused and knew I was playing as good as I could play,” he recalls.

“When you’re doing that at the Crucible, it’s absolute heaven!

“You just want to see that 18 on the board and get out of there.

“It’s more of a relief that those 17 days are done and you’ve done what you’d always hoped you’d do.

“It is one of the most incredibly difficult things to do over that period of time and to keep all that concentration.

“I take my hat off to all the multiple winners; they’re special, special players. 

“I won it once and thought it was the hardest thing I’d ever done, but all the multiple champions – take a bow!”

Forever etching his name onto the famous trophy, Parrott proudly paraded the silverware – albeit only for a short period of time.

But before securing its safety at his local bank, there was one particular stop during the brief victory tour that he fondly remembers.

“I took the trophy to a few places but then put it in the bank vault not far from where I lived; I didn’t want to be the one who lost it!” He joked.

“Even though I’m an Evertonian, Liverpool asked me if I wanted to parade the trophy on the pitch at Anfield for the people of Merseyside, so you’re not going to turn that down.

“It was the end of the season and Everton were away at QPR that day while Liverpool were at home to Tottenham.

“Being a London club, the Tottenham fans were signing Jimmy White’s name, but the Kop came back with a very good reply! It was typical Liverpool humour.”

Although Parrott felt a significant increase in the weight of expectation following his success in Sheffield, he enjoyed a solid 1991-92 season.

Once again, White was his victim as he landed the UK Championship title – making him one of only six players to win snooker’s two most prestigious ranking events in the same year – while he also triumphed at the Dubai Classic and reached the Masters final.

Unfortunately, the Liverpudlian did fall victim to the notorious Crucible Curse with Alan McManus ending his title defence at the quarter-final stage.

Nevertheless, his achievement of ruling the snooker world is understandably one that gives him a huge sense of pride 30 years on.

“Winning the World title does come with a bit of pressure,” he added.

“You become a bigger scalp and everyone wants to beat you that percentage more.

“You also feel a responsibility to play well all the time and be a good ambassador for your sport.

“It’s something I’m incredibly proud of doing and never in a million years would I swap it.”

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