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Sunday, 16 February, 2003, 15:42 GMT
Masters' Wembley swansong
The Wembley Conference Centre always pulls in the crowds for the B&H Masters
Wembley produces an electrfying atmosphere

Mark Williams' victory over Stephen Hendry on Sunday brought the final curtain down on the Benson and Hedges Masters.

The ban on tobacco advertising means the end of the road for the much-loved Wembley tournament - and its passing will be mourned by players and fans alike.

According to former champion Steve Davis, the event was a big favourite with the players.

I will be sad to see it go

Steve Davis

"It was always a special occasion on the calendar every time it came round," said the former world champion.

Williams is a former world champion himself, but the B&H Masters had a special place in the Welshman's heart.

"There is not a better tournament in the world," he said after his 10-4 win over Hendry.

The fans also relished watching the world's top players in action at the Wembley Conference Centre.

Over 24,000 people flocked to the London venue over eight days this year - the best attendance since 1988.

Some epic encounters have taken place in the Conference centre since the tournament began in 1975.

In 1987, two big crowd-pleasers went head-to-head, with Dennis Taylor overcoming Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins in a classic battle.

RECENT MASTERS
2003 Mark Williams
bt Stephen Hendry 10-4
2002 Paul Hunter
2001 Paul Hunter
2000 Matthew Stevens
1999 John Higgins
1998 Mark Williams
1997 Steve Davis
1996 Stephen Hendry
1995 Ronnie O'Sullivan
1994 Alan McManus
1993 Stephen Hendry
1992 Stephen Hendry

The following year, fans saw Davis at his devastating best, whitewashing Mike Hallett.

Having dominated in the 90s, Hendry was as stunned as the Wembley masses when fellow Scot Alan McManus battled back to take the title 9-8 in 1994.

And in 1998, Hendry lost out to Williams in another thriller, the Welshman edging to a 10-9 success on a re-spotted black.

The 2001 final - between Paul Hunter and Fergal O'Brien - was not a classic on paper.

But that did not stop the crowd roaring Yorkshireman Hunter to a 10-9 victory after he had trailed 6-2.

Wembley may not be held in such high-prestige as The Crucible or Preston Guildhall, but the loss of its unique atmosphere will be a great loss to the game.


Williams takes title

Masters history

Sport Academy

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