ESSEX'S Mark King has claimed his first ranking title - at the age of 42, since turning professional in 1991.

King battled from 5 - 1 down in the first session of the match with Barry Hawkins to 5 - 3 to trail by just two frames leading into the evening session.

The Romford battler, as he is known put on a royal performance in the second session by taking all four frames of the mid-session to go 7-5 in front - even making a century. But it was Hawkins who managed to escape his bout of meltdown and come back to 7 - 7 as King then went 8 - 7. The 16th frame was a tense affair as it went down to the final colours, with King needing a Snooker but then decided to pot the blue.

A snooker frame fans will never forget...

The black went over the right-hand bottom corner and King played on for at least 15 mins attempting to place the pink right near the black so Hawkins would have no option but to foul. King achieved it and forced a re-spotted black, but after a couple of safeties, Hawkins potted the black in the middle to take it into a dramatic decider.

It was a nervy final frame before King managed to see himself over the line to win 9-8 and be the first player to lift the Alex Higgins trophy presented by Lauren Higgins, who was the baby that Alex Higgins cradled in 1982, when he won his second World title the late great snooker player's daughter. King's last final appearance was in the 2004 Irish Masters.

In King's emotional interview after on Eurosport, he joked: "I still can't believe it. Am I dreaming?" He told World Snooker: "i just thought all week my name was on the trophy.

I haven't said it but things were happening. People were missing game balls on the black. I just think it was meant to be. I came here and I don't think I had a tenner in the bank. My dad and a mate lent me a few quid, hopefully, I can build on it now."

Snooker's King is now £70,000 richer

King pockets £70,000 and leaps up to 22 in the rankings from 35.

In the 2002/3 season, King was a member of the elite top 16 with a ranking as high as 10.

He also thanked retired snooker ace Steve Davis in his post-match speech for his support over the years. One fan commented on a snooker website "What a dramatic and tense final. Congratulations to Mark King on a fairy tale win. Best player won.Very emotional and funny victory speech too. Hawkins struggled as the favourite. He's better as the underdog."

Hope for older stars

King's victory at the Titanic Exhibition Centre at the Coral northern Ireland Open will be a boost for the other players in their forties in and outside the tour. Anthony Hamilton, 45, who was very close to making the final, but lost to Hawkins, still has a hope of reaching a final at some point.

Next, is the UK Championship in York this week from the 22nd to the Sunday 4th December, where Australian Neil Robertson will be defending his title from last year.

Ronnie O'Sullivan will be appearing in this year's UK event, despite not being there last year even though he was the defending champion from the previous win in 2014.