Sports

Virgin Media viewers hail Ken Doherty as ‘a national treasure’ after watching documentary on his 1997 world title



There was a lot of love for Ken Doherty in the wake of his documentary airing on Virgin Media One tonight.

The show marked the 25th anniversary of him reaching the summit of the snooker world in Sheffield.

In part one, we were given a glimpse into his childhood where his mother Rose had to persevere after the death of his father at 13 to raise four children in working-class conditions.

Ken also told of how he did odd jobs around snooker club Jason’s of Ranelagh – which was next door to his home – in order to be allowed to play when he hadn’t the money.

Countless hours spent in the snooker hall led to a brilliant amateur career where he ultimately became a world champion having departed for England with just £500 to his name.

His pro career took off from there although interestingly he noted he was about as nervous for his first-round match in the 1997 World Championships as he was for any other later one since his top-16 designation for the following season was on the line.

Once he’d seen off Mark Davis he described how he felt the pressure was off for the remainder of the tournament which allowed him to really grow into it despite still only being 27 and the 7th seed overall.

He took out ageing legend Steve Davis as well as a future one in John Higgins en route to the semi-finals, where he eased past Alain Robidoux.

It was then that he faced the ultimate test as he squared off against Stephen Hendry who had won the previous five world titles and had an air of invincibility around him.

Doherty wasn’t fazed though, or at least tried not to show any exterior signs of nerves as he made a point of smiling and cracking a joke as the pair shook hands prior to the opening break-off.

That forced confidence was underpinned by genuine self-belief though as he raced out to an 11-5 lead over the opening two sessions.

While he did have a bit of a wobble that allowed the Scot to rattle off five frames in a row, he regained his composure sufficiently to seal the deal 18-12 on what was a famous night for Irish sport.

And there was a sense of nostalgia among viewers tonight as they relived those glory days from a quarter of a century ago.

Soccer pundit Alan Cawley tweeted: “Fantastic programme on Virgin now about Ken Doherty.

“I may be biased as he’s a friend but he is an an absolute national treasure. One of the very very best. Great to see all his family on the show too. Good good people.”

While Mossy added: “This Ken Doherty documentary is taking me back as a kid who grew up playing snooker in Jason’s.

“The 97 win shaped my love for snooker. Ken is such an ambassador. I knocked into Rose for my cue to be signed.”

Lastly, Gareth commented: “Looking forward to seeing the doc on Ken Doherty on Virgin Media this evening. He brought 1997 alive with his international win.

“Never forgot that moment. Hope you’re doing good Ken.”

Hilariously, the affable Doherty summed up the difference between returning home as a champion that year compared to after he lost the 1998 decider to John Higgins.

While 1997 saw him greeted with an open-top bus tour that went all the way to O’Connell Street, he joked that after finishing as the runner-up twelve months later, ‘I had to get a taxi back to Ranelagh from the airport!’

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