Ken Doherty hoping to scratch his seven-year Crucible itch

1997 world champion would love one more appearance before he retires

Former champion Ken Doherty made his last appearance at the World Snooker Championships in 2014. Photograph: Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Ken Doherty admits that he craves one last appearance at the spiritual home of snooker before packing away his cue for good.

The 1997 world champion has not made it through the brutal Betfred World Championship qualifying process since 2014, when he memorably knelt and kissed the arena floor.

The Dublin has been there in the seniors event, and is regularly on site as a respected and popular TV pundit and commentator.

But that just isn’t the same – and the snooker legend is suffering from a seven-year itch that badly needs scratching before he calls it a day.


Doherty must win four matches at the English Institute of Sport to fulfil that dream and starts against Lee Walker on Tuesday morning.

Doherty, 51, said: “It would be fantastic to get back to the Crucible again.

“It would be a nice thing for me to do before I retire, whenever that is, to play there once more in the World Championship final stages.

“I did kneel down and ‘kiss the turf’ last time . . . I was just so happy to have got back there. To get introduced, come down the steps into the arena and get the welcome . . . it’s amazing.

“That wasn’t something I had planned, or rehearsed, it came as an instinctive thing. But it showed what the place means to me as a player.

"I was first there at 14 years of age in 1984, watching Steve Davis as a fan. And then when I qualified for the first time seven years later as a pro in 1991, I played him in the first round.

“Of course, the 1997 world title is always going to be the most special memory, and I never get tired of talking about it.

"And I go on about it even more when Stephen Hendry is around, because he was going for six-in-a-row and I stopped him.

“The police saying that all crime had stopped in Dublin the last night of the final as everyone was watching is something that always made me smile.

"I grew up watching Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor, and they were my big inspirations, really.

“It is such a big thing to play at the Crucible, so if you have been there for so many years but haven’t made it for a number of years, it is so difficult to get back.

"All the qualifiers can be tough and carry a lot of pressure. I have Lee Walker and then it would be Nigel Bond, and then Matt Selt before finally maybe Scott Donaldson.

“It is not an easy section, but you think about your own game rather than the opponents or you lose your focus and things can unravel.

“So it is all about the first game, concentrating on playing well in that, and getting through and building confidence from a strong performance.”