Doherty Eager For Crucible Success

Former Crucible King Ken Doherty believes that he has more golden days to look forward to at snooker's Theatre of Dreams as he prepares for the World Snooker Championship qualifiers.

Having slipped to 44th in the world rankings, The Darling of Dublin must win two matches in the qualifiers at the English Institute of Sport – Sheffield, to reach the televised stages at the Crucible. He could play Jimmy White in his opening match this Thursday, with the winner to face Joe Swail.

Doherty won the world title in 1997, and remains the only non-British player other than Cliff Thorburn to lift the famous trophy. “It's amazing that it's 13 years ago, the time has gone so quickly since then. I still feel like a teenager, and some would say I act like one!” said the 40-year-old. “I've got some great memories of playing at Sheffield which I will never forget. To be World Champion for a year was fantastic.

“It was the best snooker I have ever played, especially to beat Stephen Hendry in the final when he was unbeaten there for five years and at the top of his game. It was David against Goliath but I came out on top.

“I want to qualify this year to relive the memories and to create more for myself, as I know I'm still capable of doing it on the big stage.”

A 10-5 defeat to Gerard Greene in last year's qualifiers meant Doherty missing out on the Crucible for the first time since 1993, and he is determined to avoid a repeat. “The whole of last season was a disaster for me and I went there in a bad state with no chance of winning,” he said.

“This time it's different and I'm looking forward to it. The matches there are important for everyone because there is so much riding on it. If I can win my first match, it could cement my place in the top 32 for next season, which would be an achievement in itself and give me a great stepping stone to getting back up the rankings.”

Doherty will be joined at the qualifiers by the likes of Steve Davis, Jimmy White, John Parrott, Graeme Dott, Judd Trump, Liang Wenbo and Matthew Stevens. The event started last Friday and runs until March 9. For ticket details call 07899 688158 or visit the World Snooker desk at the EISS.