Sitting naked in a post-match press conference wouldn’t have been on Mark Williams’ Christmas wish list as the new snooker season appeared over the horizon, but as he walked past journalists bare on Monday night he wouldn’t have felt too bad.
At the Snooker World Championship the Welshman produced some scarcely believable moments, becoming the oldest Crucible champion since Ray Reardon to claim the sport’s most coveted prize with an 18-16 win over John Higgins.
At a combined age of 85 the pair had risen from anonymity since their last world titles, Higgins in 2011 and Williams in 2003.
Higgins had returned to grace last year in his world championship decider against Mark Selby but lost, while Williams decided that 2018 would be the chance to get back into the limelight after previously contemplating retirement.
The feeling was that it would likely be Higgins’ title, given the extra rest on Saturday night and the fact that he had the chance to equal the coveted record of five titles held by Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Yet Williams had not read the script, pouncing on any mistakes to rocket into a 4-0 lead with the help of minstrels and wine gums from the crowd.
Even early on Sunday there was the feeling that Higgins needed to respond and he did emphatically with a ton break, following that with two further three figure breaks to draw level at seven apiece.
The importance of setting the benchmark high for the following day cannot be underestimated in the match-play format of snooker tournaments though, and the fact that Williams somehow snatched the last three frames proved dividends as the pair headed into Monday.
By now the final had become one of those which people remember for a while but could forget, but by the beginning of the evening session it had turned into a Crucible classic.
Momentum had first swung Williams’ way as the Welshman forged into a 14-7 lead, winning the first four frames in the afternoon session. He needed four frames for the title while Higgins needed 11 to claim the crown. Was it over though? Not one bit.
Both players were once labelled the ‘class of 92’ alongside O’Sullivan when they were first noticed with a cue as teenagers, all three deemed as supernatural snooker sensations.
So it wasn’t surprising to see Higgins win eight of the next nine frames in response to the seven on the trot from Williams in an act of pure potting pilferage.
Even when Williams missed the pink for the championship the Scot cleared up in a fashion of a four time champion.
Yet it wasn’t enough as the Welshman finally edged over the line in the next frame to pick up the trophy. Last year he had watched the tournament in a caravan but this year the Crucible was his home from home.