Formerly, the World Snooker Championship didn’t really have a permanent place to call home for the tournament. Previously, the tournament (and all the equivalent names and formats for it) was held at locations scattered primarily throughout the UK. Locations involved London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Nottingham. The only exception to this was when Australia hosted the WSC in 1971 and 75.
The selection of The Crucible can be primarily attributed to the late Mike Watterson; or rather, his wife Carole Walker. Mike was a former snooker player himself, and not too bad either considering he was a top 64 resident in the rankings. However, the choice of The Crucible as the staging ground for the World Championship came from when Carole went to see a play at the arena and considered it fit to house the tournament. A few phone calls and a measuring tape later, the WSC has its new and improved venue.
The Crucible was opened in 1971, and as much as I like to imagine that its sole purpose is to house the World Championship every year; it actually hosts a variety of activities and performances throughout the year. The versatility of the venue as well as the ability to seat almost 1000 people within eye-shot of a snooker table must be chief among the reasons as to choosing Sheffield and The Crucible over other competing locations.
Sounds like smooth sailings from 1977 then, right? Well, considering it has been 42 years of The Crucible hosting the WSC annually, it hasn’t been the easiest ride. The Crucible has faced a lot of competition and criticism, mainly when it comes to whether the World Championship should continue to be held there. In 2005, Sheffield topped cities like Liverpool, Preston and Newcastle to remain as hosts of the WSC. Fast forward to the 40th anniversary where it was announced that The Crucible will retain host privileges until 2027.
So whenever discussions come up about changing the venue or potentially moving from Sheffield I always think, ‘Why?’ It’s been over 40 years with countless historical moments; like the black ball final and 5 mins 20 secs, just to name a couple. It’s already been long established as THE place for snooker’s biggest event. Sheffield’s economy has benefitted tremendously since 1977 because of WSC. So I say, why change?