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

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

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

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

John Parrott was back in familiar territory as he prepared for his third successive Crucible semi-final at the 1991 World Snooker Championship.

The world number three had secured his return to the single-table set-up in Sheffield following a hard-fought 13-10 victory over the methodical Terry Griffiths in the quarters.

Parrott had previously overcome Nigel Gilbert 10-6 in the opening round, before inflicting a comprehensive 13-1 rout on Tony Knowles to advance with a session to spare.

Next up was the small matter of six-time World champion Steve Davis for a place in the final.

It was a repeat of the showpiece two years earlier, which brought back painful memories for Parrott, who was ruthlessly swept aside 18-3 by the Nugget.

“In the 1989 final, I was mentally gone,” Parrott told Live Snooker.

“I’d had a few good tournaments coming into it and basically, everyone fell over in front of me.

“I ended up getting to a final without playing anywhere near my best and I could feel my petrol gauge running near empty.

“I got off to a bad start, and it just got worse.”

Davis had also prevailed in their most recent showdown a couple of weeks earlier; winning 9-5 in the Irish Masters final at Goffs.

Desperate to turn the tables, an inspired Parrott won a number of close frames, while also compiling breaks of 80, 122 and 83 on the way to opening up a commanding 11-4 lead.

And the Liverpudlian fondly remembers possessing a spring in his step on the biggest stage of all.

“At the time, Steve was playing as good as he was to win most of his World titles,” he said.

“He was still playing brilliantly and hadn’t dipped much from his standard in 1989; he was still a fantastic match player.

“I knew it was important to get off to a very good start and show him that the real me had turned up.

“It’s one of the best matches I’ve ever been involved in; from start to finish, it had a bit of everything.

“I just felt that if I got a chance, I was really going to score.

“There’s nothing like it when you’re at your peak; you’re not bothered by anything else.

“I remember sitting in my chair thinking: ‘if you miss, I’m going to clear up here, so you’d better make sure you knock them in’.

“It’s an incredible feeling; there’s not a shot you can’t play, and there’s not a situation you can’t handle.”

Although he was just five frames from victory, Parrott knew his opponent would not go down without a fight.

Indeed, ‘The Nugget’ won four of the next five to cut the gap to 12-8.

But the third seed stood his ground and prevented the deficit from being reduced any further, as he remained in control at 14-10 to the good.

“People don’t realise with Steve that if things weren’t quite going his way, he could turn things around very quickly,” he recalls.

“He could tie you up in knots, or he started running around the table.

“He had different ways of playing that a lot of people didn’t really suss out.

“He started trying to get a rush on me by playing really quick.

“He threw absolutely everything at me, but I kept hitting him back every time and I knew I’d got him.”

Parrott eventually got over the line with runs of 86 and 64 sealing his return to the final.

But the feeling of euphoria did not last for too long and it was soon back down to business.

After all, a certain Jimmy White was standing in his way of the title, and this was the second of five successive showpieces that the Whirlwind would contest during the decade.

“You celebrate for half an hour,” Parrott added.

“But then get your head back on because you’ve got the biggest match to win.”