Stuart Bingham holds nerve to shock Shaun Murphy in epic final

Epic final
Stuart Bingham celebrates after beating Shaun Murphy 18-15 in the World Championship final at The Crucible. Photograph: Craig Brough/Action Image

After 20 years of hard snooker graft Stuart Bingham is finally an overnight success. The popular 38-year-old from Basildon became the oldest first-time winner in Crucible history, beating Shaun Murphy in one of the event’s most entertaining finals. With the score at 15-15 an uncharacteristically epic frame ensued in a match where safety play had previously been kept to a bare minimum. It would prove the last of countless turning points.

It was so long that it was actually interrupted by an impromptu toilet break with three balls left on the table. One highlight in the frame featured Murphy conceding 30 points and ostensibly the frame in fouls on the yellow as he tried and failed to extricate himself from a fiendish snooker on seven occasions. Advantage Bingham and it was one he would not relinquish, going on to snaffle the next two frames and the cheque for £300,000.

“At 15-all I thought my chance was gone,” he said. “My arm felt like someone else’s and nerves sort of got to me. We had a marathon 31st frame and I sort of pinched it on the colours and from then on I played pretty solid. It’s just unreal, I can’t believe I’m the 2015 world champion. I’m going to be the same person. I’m going to be playing in all the tournaments and hopefully I’ll be a good role model being a world champion.”

A pre-tournament 50-1 outsider he may have been but insinuations – there have been a few – that Bingham is some jobbing cue-man who was lucky enough to hit his peak at the Crucible this year are misleading. A fixture in the world’s top 16 since 2012, this late bloomer has been ranked as high as six and will now begin next season as world No2.

He has appeared in the final of five different ranking events, winning three, so though it may have taken him a while to get here, it has been some time since Bingham was the journeyman some have made him out to be. On his way to victory he beat three former champions, dispatching three consecutive tournament favourites in his final three games.


This was a wonderful game of snooker. Having trailed Bingham 14-11 going into the final session, Murphy took four of the first five frames to level the scores in the race to 18.

Earlier in the day Murphy, the 2005 champion, had gone behind for the first time in 19 frames after an astonishing run from Bingham left him red of face and visibly rattled.

For all the bow-tied politeness of this genteel sport, there was plenty of snarling aggression on show at the table. Largely reserved for the contemptuous dispatch of long reds, many of which were missed, it was this crowd-pleasing reluctance on the part of both players to become mired in any kind of safety play whenever remotely avoidable that made for such riveting viewing.

In the third frame of the afternoon session Bingham even came perilously close to scoring the first ever maximum in a world final, potting 14 reds and 14 blacks, only to be diddled out of glory and the £20,000 that would accompany it by rotten luck rather than anything resembling poor judgment. Despite being in the form of his life, not even he could bend the laws of physics to his will as he attempted the thinnest of cuts into the middle pocket.

So there you have it. In a tournament that will be fondly remembered for Bingham’s tears, Murphy’s suits and dear old Ronnie’s socks, the bounty for a Crucible maximum went unclaimed, although a quarter-final 145 fired by Bingham against Ronnie O’Sullivan, the pre-tournament favourite, was enough for him to split the £10,000 prize for highest break with Neil Robertson.

It is chump change beside his winner’s cheque but eminently better than a poke in the eye from the pointy stick with which this Essex boy has helped forge the dreams of a misspent youth.



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