Jimmy White has become the first player in his 60s to reach the final stages of a major tournament for 29 years.
Golden oldie White, who turned 60 in May, rolled back the years with a 6-1 victory over Wales’s Dominic Dale to seal his place at the UK Championship at the Barbican in York.
And the last pro to reach the last 32 of a big tournament in their seventh decade was Australian Eddie Charlton at the 1993 International Open.
The Whirlwind is best known for six times being the runner-up at the World Championship at the Crucible – with Stephen Hendry inflicting four of those defeats.
But current world No. 89 White won 10 ranking titles and this tremendous run comes on the 30 th anniversary of his success in the UK where he beat John Parrott in the 1992 final.
White last reached the final 32 in the UK Championship – which starts on Saturday - back in 2010 where a thrilling 9-8 defeat to Hendry was arguably his last huge main-tour match.
However this past week the ‘People’s Champion’ has shown superb form in taking out Brazil’s Victor Sarkis and Mitchell Mann both 6-0 and then Scotland’s former UK winner Stephen Maguire 6-4.
White, the oldest man on the circuit who turned pro in 1980 and first played the UK in 1981, has had young son Tommy travelling with him on tour this season.
And White, who clenched his first with delight after getting over the line, has never lost his love for the game despite plenty of knocks and setbacks.
After an emotional win at Ponds Forge in Sheffield White, who first played Dale in 1994, said: “I am just so pleased to be there – but if I didn’t think I could win, I wouldn’t play.
“When I won the UK Championship 30 years ago I never would have thought I would still be qualifying for it now. But we are very lucky as snooker players.
“It is not like football or boxing. If you have the passion to practice and a game in fairly good shape, you can go on…look at me, I am nearly 50!
“But I won’t be there just to make the numbers up, so ask me how special it is when I win it. My A game can still compete.
“I have always had great support, and as the decades have gone on we have had Ronnie and then Judd Trump playing attacking snooker.
“I have been hitting the ball well for some time but not getting the results but I hit some good form this week, especially against Stephen Maguire.
“But today felt a bit embarrassing in the first four frames even though I was 3-1 up and I really told myself ‘come on, you have worked so hard – be like John Higgins’ at the interval.
“And I just want to say to Nana we all love you darling, she isn’t doing great at the moment but we all love her very much.”
The match itself was never a classic – tight and often scrappy. Dale could not find any scoring touch and though White fared little better the older player always looked sharper and was potting the really important balls throughout the contest.
There were genuine words of congratulation from Dale at the end – and about the only thing White got wrong all week was thinking he would play Jack Lisowski in the last 32.
In fact White will find out later today in a random draw who he will face first at a Barbican Centre in York that will have very different and more exclusive feel this year.
With the format reverting to tiered qualifying rather than a 128-player flat grand-slam style draw the number of tables has been slashed from eight to just two.
And that will mean centre stage for the Whirlwind, who could land close pal and seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby or defending champion Zhao Xintong in the draw.