Happy birthday to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, which opened its doors 40 years ago today.
It has been the host venue of the World Championship since 1977. Mike Watterson, the promoter back then, had been looking for a new place to hold the tournament and his late wife, Carol, returned home from seeing a play at the Crucible and mentioned it could be ideal.
The rest really is history...rich history. So many iconic images and moments that have fascinated, thrilled and shocked spectators and television viewers.
It is in many ways an unlikely sporting venue: a provincial theatre on a street in the middle of Sheffield city centre.
But snooker is an unlikely television favourite. The significance of the World Championship rapidly grew after that 1977 event but the Crucible very quickly seemed to gel with what made TV snooker special.
When I first went there to watch as a boy the Crucible was a rather shabby building and I couldn’t believe how small the actual playing arena was.
When I began working there I realised how cramped it was backstage and how little room there was to actually play out on the floor of the theatre.
But in fact this has been the Crucible’s great strength: the claustrophobic atmosphere it creates. Snooker is a mentally demanding sport and the oppressive, uncomfortable Crucible arena has seen many an implosion down the years.
Recently the Crucible has been refurbished but has lost none of its allure for snooker fans. For many, the trip to Sheffield is an annual pilgrimage of an almost religious kind.
The tournament is guaranteed to continue there until at least 2015. After that, who knows?
Market forces dictate most decisions in the world of business but I rather agree with Steve Davis, who has played on snooker’s most famous stage a record 30 times. He said that there would have to be a very good reason to throw away all the history associated with the Sheffield theatre.
Time will tell. For now, happy birthday to the Crucible, a theatre of snooker dreams and of nightmares, the one venue where everyone wants to play, a hallowed ground for players and fans, and a house of wonderful snooker memories.