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

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Neil Robertson salutes trailblazing overseas snooker stars

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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)

It was a case of business as usual as John Parrott got set for his second-round showdown with Tony Knowles at the 1991 World Snooker Championship.

After all, this was the world number three’s eighth appearance at the Crucible, and the eighth time he had successfully reached the last 16 of the competition.

Parrott had secured his passage courtesy of a 10-6 victory over Nigel Gilbert in the opening round.

Next up was a meeting with former world number two Tony Knowles, who had overcome 14th seed John Virgo 10-8.

It was a favourable draw for the likable Liverpudlian. Indeed, he had won all seven previous showdowns between the players.

And the trend continued with Parrott making breaks of 138, 137, 79, 69, 68, 64 and 57 on the way to inflicting a thumping 13-1 rout on the popular Bolton cueist.

“I did have a pretty good record against Tony,” he remembers.

“I’m a big believer that the first time you play somebody is massively important.

“You don’t want them to become a bogey player if you lose to them.

“The fact I’d beaten him the first time gave me the confidence to carry on.

“Once the first round was out of the way, I felt I could get down to business then.

“I’d got into a rhythm and was scoring very heavily.”

From 2-1, Parrott won an incredible 11 successive frames to see out the match with a session to spare.

Leading 7-1 heading into their second session, he was given extra incentive to get the match finished as soon as possible.

“The first session, I was pretty dominant and had a good lead,” added Parrott.

“I was just about to go out for the second session and my pal told me there was a race meeting in Pontefract the following day.

“I didn’t need any more encouragement; I played absolutely out of my skin. I won all six frames and won 13-1!”

“I just couldn’t wait to go to Pontefract on the Monday. It was like a little bonus halfway through the tournament.”

If Parrott boasted a flawless record against Knowles, the same could not be said for his quarter-final opponent Terry Griffiths.

The 1979 World champion had won four of the five most recent meetings between the players since Parrott’s victory in the 1989 European Open final, and was still a force to be reckoned with 12 years on.

Although the Liverpudlian opened up a 5-1 lead, the methodical Welshman clawed his way back to level at 7-7, while he also recovered to only trail 11-10 from 10-7 down.

However, Parrott held his nerve to eventually prevail a 13-10 winner.

“People make jokes about him being on the slow side, but Terry was a top-quality match player,” Parrott added.

“The cue-ball was in the right place all the time for safety; he’d put you through the mill.

“I remember him chain-smoking the entire match. Even when you were at the table, you were getting covered in smoke.

“Of course, nobody’s allowed to smoke anywhere now but at the time, it was constant.

“He was my hardest match at that championship; I had to play as good as I could play to beat him.”

Through to the Semi-Finals for the third year running, Parrott would await the winner of Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor, who were battling it out in a repeat of the 1985 showpiece.

The 26-year-old had won each of his last seven meetings with Taylor, while painful memories of the 18-3 drubbing at the hands of Davis in the 1989 final were still raw.

At that time, he was fortunate to be benefitting from the wise words and wisdom of John Spencer in his corner.

And after Davis prevailed 13-7 to set up a rematch of that final two years on, the three-time World champion reminded Parrott that there was an old score to settle.

“I remember being sat in the dressing room and chatting about who I was going to play,” he recalled.

“I had a pretty good record against Dennis, so I’d sooner have played him to be honest.

“But John was very positive and telling me I needed to avenge something.”