18.3.09

ALEX HIGGINS AT 60

How did Alex Higgins ever make it to 60?

There must have been times in his turbulent life, in which controversy, aggro and unrest have been constant bedfellows, when reaching 50 or even 40 looked unlikely.

But Higgins, who celebrates his 60th birthday today, has always been a survivor.

What an extraordinary character. He’s one of those people about which everything that has been said is probably true, or not far off, even that that contradicts the other stuff.

Higgins’s life has been well documented, not least in his own recent autobiography, ‘From the Eye of the Hurricane.’

Nobody should doubt the remarkable reaction to his emergence in the early 1970s and the way it transformed the sport from a pastime which demanded very little television coverage to a major frontline TV sport that, for a while in the 1980s, beat every other sport, including football, in the ratings in Britain.

All good stories need heroes and villains. Higgins was the villain in snooker’s rise to prominence.

Blessed with incredible natural talent, he had – indeed still has – a self destructive personality.

He has done things I would never defend, both in the sport and out in the world.

I would doubt anyone could dispute the year’s ban he was given for a catalogue of disciplinary offences during the 1989/90 season, which included threatening to have Dennis Taylor shot and punching – without any provocation – the press officer at the World Championship.

This ban ultimately precipitated the end of his professional career.

Higgins deserves little sympathy for this but it is also true that he has been sinned against.

At the height of snooker’s popularity, he was public property and newspapers were keen to exploit his reputation as a bad boy, sometimes with stories that had little basis in fact.

Hangers on and those looking for trouble or easy headlines got their claws into him.

But many have also tried to help him and been rebuffed because, ultimately, Higgins is a one off and will go to the grave doing things his own way.

He’ll be remembered for all of this but also for his snooker, which was, at times, spellbinding.

His 69 clearance to level his 1982 World Championship semi-final with Jimmy White is widely regarded as the best break ever because of the circumstances and dramatic way it was compiled.
And Higgins’s emotional capture of the title a few days later, tearfully beckoning his wife and baby daughter on to the Crucible stage, is one of snooker’s most iconic moments.

And that’s why – despite everything – the sport is lucky to have had the Hurricane.

Because, like him or loathe him – and it’s possible to do both at the same time – Alex Higgins is the most exciting thing that’s ever been seen on a snooker table.

A force of nature unpredictable, uncontrollable and, it would seem, unstoppable.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

"How did Alex Higgins ever make it to 60?"

red, black, red, black, red, blue, red, pink, red, yellow, red, brown, red, black, red, green, red, pink, red, yellow, red ... missed difficult black into middle back = 60

who needs webcasting ...

sw

Monique said...

:) ...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/jun/16/snooker.features

I worth re-reading on this day.
Happy birthday Mr Higgins.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
www.snooker.fineart.com

It is apparently clear­­ that others are AFRAID of The Fine Art method. Clive­­ and Terry begged for the Fine Art copyright; and when­­ refused adopted the deceased Joe Davis method­­ instead.
If the Joe Davis copyright is now void? All­­ players should be allowed to sell coaching diplomas!­­ Not only the Griffiths family business in Wales and­ the­ Snooker Academy in Sheffield.
Any player that­ can­ attract a student for coaching is entitled to give­ a­ certificate of competance or award or diploma. There­ is­ no barometer to snooker coaching.
Nearly all­ advance­ player do a bit of coaching, but keep it­ "in­ house" as a perk.A new copyright­ coaching method may not be declared void. Mr. hey you

Anonymous said...

I see from the post above (before it vanishes) that Alex has spent some of his beer money on a laptop ...

sw

Anonymous said...

The fine art nutter keep cropping up. Don't know what his game is but his website is full of waffle and no one in their right mind is going to pay that much for an instructional dvd.

Back to Higgins - total enigma. Complete arsehole but complete genius as well. Snooker was very lucky to have him. Just ask him!

Anonymous said...

Mr Hey You,
You are clearly insane, your website reads like the ramblings of a madman. I think you should seek professional help. You should also probably learn to spell.

Happy Birthday Alex! You old Dog!

Anonymous said...

I'm only 23, thank god for YouTube because watching videos of his play has inspired me in many different ways. Sometimes when I watch them it makes me want to play snooker and pool all day. I've never seen showmanship like it in any sport.

I've watched the 69 break many times now, to the point of nausea... my favourite shot is the blue into the green pocket in the middle of course..

And it amazes me he made it to 60, somebody correct me if I'm wrong here, but wasn't he given a 10 per cent chance of survival in 1998, with his throat cancer? And here he is 11 years later. That's just incredible.

jamie said...

I think Higgins is the most infuential player in the history of the game, but more exciting than Ronnie not for me.

Anonymous said...

Alex was the the one who got me hooked on this great game, his 69 clearance still get's me buzzing. Happy birthday Sir Alex hope you have a good one and don't get to drunk you old dog.

Anonymous said...

Alex spoke to me once at The Crucible.
He said, "f*** off out of my way you little s***..."
It was a wonderful moment.

jamie said...

On podcast 5 did you anwser all the questions or are some being left over for another time? as my question was not anwsered. It was not a classic but it was about a topic that is not covered that much?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to change topic.

But if you are reading this "Mr hey you", then shut up about the stupid 'Fine Art method', get a life.

Anonymous said...

Higgins in his hey day was far more exciting and controversial than Ronnie. Especially when considering what was about at the time and the table conditions

a genuine one off. white and ronnie are poor imitations

not a nice guy by all accounts, but that dont matter here.....

Anonymous said...

No doubt one of snooker's greatest ever players.
I met Alex once at the connaught club when he was playing a British open qualifier against Roger Bales. It wasn't the greatest of matches but Alex was on great form with the crowd. i remember this lady having one of these fancy drinks a la del boy from only fools and horses and Alex immediately downed he's lager and asked someone to get him whatever she was having! Also Cliff Thorburn was on the other table and Alex asked the crowd not to go too wild because he didn't want the grinder with so few people watching Cliff's game to get upset!!!
At the end of the game I asked for the hurricanes autograph.....a little nervously i must say but he was brilliant with me, had a brief chat and at 14/15 you don't forget things like that.
Happy birthday Alex, hope you have many more.

regards
Dean.

Rich P said...

Thanks for that link monique, not sure if i'd read that before.

Here's a challenge for you Dave. A podcast with Alex Higgins...I reckon there's more chance of Alex reaching 100 than you pulling that off. It would certainly be interesting if probably a little difficult to understand.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I missed this important date on the snooker calendar. I will be sure to pour a glass of wine into someone's pocket soon to mark the occasion.

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed anon 2.04am.
You'd struggle though to recapture the moment, as the wine was poured into the dress suit pocket of Jim Elkins of B & H, and there is currently no sponsor for The Masters.

Anonymous said...

I remember the time he lost his temper with his previously beloved leprechaun and bit its head off live on telly.
Lunatic.

Claus Christensen said...

"Ronnie and White are just imitations". What a silly comment. Do you think Ronnie's shot selection is guided by any wishes to be like Alex? Do you think Jimmy wonders who to punch in the neck to aspire to proper levels of controversy and infamy? Some people look for something more than just a good game of snooker to watch, which is fine, but 'edgy' characters like Jimmy and Ronnie are clearly not acting out roles of Higgins apprentices.

Anonymous said...

i actually disagree and couldnt care less if you think my comment is silly. :)

Anonymous said...

So there Claus, that told you didn't it you big fool.

Claus Christensen said...

Slandering isn't the same as answering questions. In what way do you spot signs of imitation and what specifically? Try to stay on topic if at all possible.

Anonymous said...

Santa:

if you think that is slander then you dont know the meaning of the word.

Anonymous said...

yes there are alot of lovely comments on here for alex but all those who re slagging him off...he obviously had an impact on u or u wouldnt even be reading this article...say what u want about him but the man was and still is (beleive me) a genius! and he will find it hilarious to know that some people who apparently dont like him are wasting their time reading articles about him! ill be sure to tell him for u all!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant!!! A man who excelled in eccentricity. A man who had the ability to be a champion, but became an entertainer.

linda said...

Had the priveledge, honour and pleasure of meeting this great man 10th July 2009 a true gentleman and as I left felt very humble what a legend love you lots Alex

Anonymous said...

He Spoke to me once too during the Irish Masters in the Early 90s. he arrived in my hometown of Newbridge, told the Bouncer to get the punters 'the fuck out of the way' from the corner, where there was about 20 people sitting, and moved in there with a few minders and left the bouncer with a very full pocket. I bumped into him, and he said, 'Want my autograph son?', before I could apologise...

as Fr. Dougal Maguire said... 'you should never meet your heroes, they'll always disappoint you.

Anonymous said...

I MET MR HIGGINS IN BELFAST RECENTLY , HE WAS VERY DOWN TO EARTH AS HE SIGHNED AN AUTOGRAPH AND POSED FOR A PICTURE

degsy said...

they say you should never meet your hero?. i saw higgy in a belfast pub, bought him a pint, he invited me to sit with him & i spent an hour with him talking about all sorts of things.he was fantastic company, im still buzzing & this was 2 years ago!