Amateur in ‘78, World Champion in ‘79. The 40th anniversary of the Terry Griffiths story

When the Snooker World Championships kick off at Sheffield’s iconic Crucible Theatre this week, it’ll be forty years since Welshman Terry Griffiths lifted the trophy at his first attempt. My Nan, God bless her, used to recall it: “We were all sitting around a little telly in the living room” she’d say. “We couldn’t believe it when he won. Then after that, he did nothing!” Clearly my dear old Nan’s memory didn’t absorb Terry’s later achievements (including completing the “Triple Crown”), although one can understand why a casual snooker fan in their twilight years might only remember that astonishing moment when virtual unknown became King of the Green Baize. Snooker was on the up, colour television had arrived, players in their dinner suits strutted around the table, puffing fags in between visits, becoming household names in the process.

The greatest thing about the Terry Griffiths triumph is that it is a reminder of how quickly fortunes can change: an amateur one minute, centre stage the next. True, the sport has changed like most others over the years – more money, more competition, and dare I say it, more professionalism, but looking back at the ‘79 World Championships should give hope to the many passionate, hard-working sportsmen and women, that the big breakthrough could be just around the corner. Jamie Vardy is a more recent example from the football world of how the transformation from journeyman to superstar can occur in the blink of an eye. It’s never too late. Don’t give up on your dreams. A couple of decades earlier, the story of Ian Wright was another beautiful one.

In a previous life, before winning that World Championship at the ripe old age of 31, Terry was a postman, insurance salesman, miner and bus conductor. Barely had he abandoned his uniforms before he was appearing on the legendary Top of the Pops, singing “Snooker Loopy”.

So, guys and girls who are practicing their proverbials off and haven’t made it yet, keep plugging away. Use the Terry Griffiths tale as inspiration.

And of course, if you’re a snooker fan, enjoy this year’s World Championship. Can anyone stop the man of the moment, Mr 1,000 centuries, from making it 6 titles?

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