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Cliff Thorburn - The Canadian Snooker Who Defeated Alex Higgins

Cliff Thorburn is Canadian professional snooker who has since retired from the sport.

In 1980, he defeated Alex Hig

gins 18–16 in the final of the World Snooker Championship to become the sport's first modern-era world champion from a country other than the United Kingdom.

This victory made him the sport's first world champion from a country other than the United Kingdom.

His style of play earned him the nickname "The Grinder."

Who Is Cliff Thorburn?

Cliff Thorburn holding a billiard pool stick and yellow ball pool beside him
Cliff Thorburn holding a billiard pool stick and yellow ball pool beside him

In 1980, Canadian player Cliff Thorburn made history by being the first player from a country other than the United Kingdom to win the World Snooker Championship in the modern era of the sport.

After turning professional in 1973, the man who was affectionately known as "The Grinder" because of his style of play quickly established himself as one of the game's leading players.

He reached the final of the World Championship in 1977, and then went on to win the Masters the following year.

His style of play earned him the nickname.

However, his major breakthrough did not occur until two years later, when he overcame his opponent Alex Higgins 18-16 at the Crucible Theatre to become world champion.

Despite all of this success, the moment that could be considered the defining moment of his career occurred in 1983 when he became the first player to ever make a maximum 147 break at the Crucible Theatre and only the second player in history to do so.

This occurred during his second round against Terry Griffiths.

Outside of Sheffield, Thorburn has won the Masters tournament three times, in 1983, 1985, and 1986.

Additionally, in his home country of Canada, he has won six national championships, making him the all-time leader in that category.

In 1981, Thorburn overtook Ray Reardon to claim the position of snooker's world number one player, making him only the second player in the sport's history to achieve this feat.

In 2018, Thorburn defeated Jonathan Bagley 2-1 to win the title at the Seniors Masters tournament held at the Crucible.

This victory came some 38 years after Thorburn had won the world title.

NameCliff Thorburn
BirthdayJanuary 16th, 1948
PofessionProfessional Snooker

Cliff Thorburn Professional Career

Thorburn is notable for being the first player from a country other than Britain or Ireland to win snooker's most prestigious tournament.

The 'Grinder,' who was born in Victoria, British Columbia, defeated Alex Higgins in a tremendous 18-16 match in 1980 to win the title of World Champion and take home the trophy.

The 'Hurricane' appeared to be in control of the situation when they were ahead 9-5, but Thorburn, who fought to the very end, roared back to win the trophy.

In more ways than one, this match lived up to its name of "storming."

On the second day of the competition, television coverage of the final was cut short so that the BBC could broadcast live photos of the Special Air Service breaking into the Iranian Embassy in London.

Even though Thorburn's victory was the crown jewel of his career, the 1983 championship will be remembered almost as fondly due to its significance.

It wasn't until 3:51 in the morning that they decided who would win his second-round crawl against Terry Griffiths.

The match also included the first-ever maximum break to be witnessed at the Crucible. The total clearance was kicked off by a random opening red.

After more than 13 hours of play, the match was finally decided in favor of Thorburn with a score of 13-12.

After defeating Kirk Stevens and Tony Knowles, both of whom he won by a single frame, it should not have come as a surprise to anyone that he had nothing left in the tank for the last match against Steve Davis.

Although he was given the Order of Canada in 1984, Thorburn did not have a lot of success winning titles in ranking competitions.

However, he was victorious in the Masters tournament held at Wembley on three separate occasions and also won the Scottish Masters in consecutive years.

After hanging up his cue, he moved back to his home country of Canada to settle down there permanently.

Snooker fans in the UK give Thorburn a warm welcome whenever he comes to the country to compete in tournaments like the World Seniors or exhibition matches.

Cliff Thorburn Championship

In 1980, he had another opportunity to go the extra mile.

Having previously advanced to the final round with victories over Doug Mountjoy, Jim Wych, and David Taylor, he then competed against his greatest adversary, Alex Higgins, in the championship match.

Because of this, the final was a real grudge match because both players were determined to win their first tournament at the Crucible and lift the trophy for the first time.

The two players never saw eye to eye off the table.

However, in the end, it was Cliff who prevailed to win the match 18-16 and earn his maiden world title in the process.

The match was as close as anyone could have reasonably anticipated.

Despite the fact that Horace Lindrum won the tournament in 1952, most fans consider this to be the first legitimate victory for a player from another country.

This victory, which came on the heels of Terry Griffiths' victory the year before, allowed another player to add his name to the short list of those who have won the tournament.

Almost immediately after his greatest victory, he went through a period that may be described as difficult; yet, he did succeed in dethroning Ray Reardon as the world number one the following season, and he is still today one of just seven players to have ever held that position.

In any event, it wasn't long before he got back into the habit of winning, as evidenced by his success in the highly regarded B&H Masters tournament on three separate occasions, the Scottish Masters on two separate occasions, and the World Cup with Canada.

His most notable achievement, however, did not come in the form of a championship but rather a score of 147, which he achieved against Terry Griffiths in 1983.

This score was the first ever to be made at the Crucible.

After a string of hard and exhausting matches, the grinder had nothing left in the tank and was soundly defeated 18-6 by a dominant Steve Davis.

He actually managed to make it all the way to the final round of the competition.

Cliff Thorburn Decline Of Career

Even though he was going to continue participating until the conclusion of the 1995–1996 season, his career started to wind down gradually after he won his last major championship at the 1985 Matchroom Trophy.

However, he did reach the final for the next two years in a row.

However, in 1988 he was given a two-tournament suspension for a positive drug test, which exacerbated his slide down the rankings.

By 1991, he had completely fallen out of the top 32 rankings for good.

After making his final appearance at the Crucible in 1994, where he suffered a heartbreaking loss to Nigel Bond by the score of 10-9 after holding a 9-2 lead, and after falling to the 91st position in the rankings, he made the decision to put up his cue for good in 1996.

Cliff Thorburn Retirement

On January 5, 2022, one of snooker's greatest players of the 1980s and one of the sport's all-time greatest ambassadors, Cliff Thorburn, competed in his final competitive match before retiring from a career that has spanned more than half a century.

Thorburn of Canada was victorious in the 1980 World Championship, spent one season as the number one player in the world, and triumphed three times in the Masters tournament to earn the title of champion.

His feat of becoming the first player to make a 147 at the Crucible, which he accomplished by beating Terry Griffiths in 1983, is likely the accomplishment that will stick out most in people's minds.

Thorburn turned professional in 1973 and continued to play on the tour until 1996. In 1971, he was the champion of the North American Championship.

In recent years, he has participated in competitions for Snooker Legends as well as World Seniors.

Thorburn was one of two players who Barry Hearn inducted into the Snooker Hall of Fame in 2014.

The other player was Dennis Taylor.

Thorburn has been an outstanding figurehead for snooker for a number of decades, as well as a wonderful friend to a significant number of players on the circuit.

He is recognized as one of the very greatest non-British players who has ever made a significant impact on the sport, and this recognition is well deserved.

The 73-year-old athlete has declared that the WAYS Facilities Management UK Seniors Championship that will take place in Hull this week will be his final competition.

In the round of 16, he was defeated by Kuldesh Johal 3-0.

Following the conclusion of that match, Thorburn said to Rob Walker,

I love the game, it’s dear to my heart. Like everyone else, I didn’t want to go to sleep at night, I wanted to stay in the club all day long, then I couldn’t wait to wake up. When I’d been practicing heavily, someone said to me ‘Thorburn, you spend more time on the table than the cloth.’

People Also Ask

Did Thorburn Punch Higgins?

Snooker great Cliff Thorburn has admitted that he once hit and kicked arch-rival Alex "Hurricane" Higgins in the groin while they were competing against one another.

At 1983 Irish Open, two of the sport's most legendary players confronted one other, and after a heated conversation, they ended up fighting.

When Did Cliff Thorburn Get 147?

In 1980, Cliff Thorburn was victorious and claimed the title.

At the World Snooker Championships held at The Crucible Theatre on April 23, 1983, the cue ace made the very first 147 maximum breaks, and all of a sudden, the eyes of the world were on the city and Thorburn's incredible achievement.

This caused the city to become known as "the Snooker Capital of the World."

What Nationality Is Cliff Thorburn?

Cliff Thorburn is a Canadian.

Conclusion

Because of his tenacity and sheer drive to win, Cliff Thorburn, also known as "The Grinder," became the first Canadian world champion and the first person in history to make a maximum break at Chicago's iconic Crucible Theatre.

Cliff's position in snooker history is certain as he is one of just seven players to ever reach the summit of the global rankings at the top, and he continues to demonstrate a genuine interest in the game today, routinely traveling to the World Championship from Canada.

About The Authors

Adaline Fritz

Adaline Fritz - Adaline's upbeat, can-do attitude and nurturing disposition make her perfect for understanding each client's wants and needs and skillfully directing them toward their real estate objectives. Adaline has experience in all facets of the real estate process, having started in the administrative sector and progressed to operations before achieving success in real estate sales. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from San Diego State University and Western Oregon University, and returned to the Portland area in 2011 to pursue a career in real estate. She also loves traveling, working out, and spending time on the water during Portland's beautiful summers.

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