When John Higgins won his first world title in 1998, I assumed he would go on to win four or five.

As it transpires he still might, but this looked unlikely at the mid point of the decade when it appeared as if Higgins had gone off the boil.

He began the 2000s as world no.1 and indeed won its first ranking title, the Welsh Open.

He picked up a second UK title in 2000 and the following year won the first three tournaments of the 2001/02 season.

During the last of these he became a father for the first time. There’s no doubt this had a bearing on his career. Higgins is from a close family and he found himself enjoying home life more than the relentless hours in the club.

He thus went three years between ranking titles before his success in the 2004 British Open and dropped to sixth in the rankings, too low for a player of his ability.

Things changed, though, as the decade wore on. For a variety of reasons he rediscovered his competitive spirit.

In 2005, he compiled four successive centuries and amassed 494 points without reply in destroying Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-2 to win the Grand Prix.

He made a tremendous under pressure 64 clearance to pip O’Sullivan to the 2006 Masters title.

But he had been putting himself under it too much to win the world title again.

His fortunes seemed to turn round after Mark Williams beat him 17-15 from 14-10 down in their 2000 semi-final, a defeat Higgins attributes in large degree to Williams forgetting to shake his hand before their final session.

For five successive years Higgins failed to get past the quarter-finals at Sheffield but in 2007, despite not being in prime form ahead of the 17 day marathon, he went all the way to the title.

Then last season he won a third and demonstrated, in particular against Jamie Cope and Mark Selby, his ability to produce his best snooker while under pressure.

Virtually every professional regards Higgins as the best all round player in the game but also look up to him as a person.

He exudes a friendly, down to earth air despite his success. His fellow players like him and they respect him.

This means he is influential in off table matters, which he has taken a leading role in through the formation of the World Series and the new Snooker Players Association.

Having started the decade as a staunch WPBSA supporter, Higgins ends it as one of the most vocal critics of the governing body.

But it is as a player that he remains prominent. He will most likely end the decade as provisional world no.1 having started it as official no.1.

Despite a few slip ups during the last ten years, this is proof of Higgins’s undoubted class.


Anonymous said...

Snooker The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Dave
Sorry lad I must disagree with you again on the semantics or your opinions on some snooker players.

John Higgins is one of the few players that knows his limitations though not always his complete capabilities.

John is not a class player, more dogged and determined but almost incapable of showing some thing new and surprising when in play. Mr hey you.

jamie brannon said...

I just wondered Dave would you have Higgins ahead of Williams in a player of the decade vote? It is a tough one, but Williams just edged it for me.

Dave H said...

You're right it is a tough one.

Ultimately Higgins would just edge it because he has kept his game going right to the end of the decade.

jamie brannon said...

Someone else said that, and yes Williams has faded and is no longer a leading contender for events, despite being back in top 16. However I just felt that as you mention Higgins had a fallow period too just at a different part of the decade. The other thing that swung it for me was that BBC 'Grand Slam' something I think only Davis and Hendry have ever done.

Dave H said...

Yes, and Mark will feature later in the series

Dave H said...

'Series' makes it sound a bit grander than it is, but you know what I mean

Anonymous said...

Are you for real mr hey you "John is not a class player". Do you even watch this great game or do you like posting tripe?

Dave H said...

I don't know any snooker player who doesn't regard John Higgins as a great player

jamie brannon said...

To be fair though, Dennis Taylor calls everyone great! Supposedly and I'm going off that wikikpedia, but Willie Thorne says Alex Higgins is not a great player, now I never saw Higgins play at the time, but on his achievments and influence alone he must have been a great player. Thorne says it in his biography which I'm still trying to locate a copy of. Im sorry but I am quite argumentative, but the top comment on this post doesnt deserve a response John Higgins is a legend, never mind a great player. Also in an overall all time list John would be ahead of Mark, to me Higgins and Ronnie are a notch above Williams overall partly because their in a different breakbuilding class. Although Williams is a classy breakbuilder.

Dave H said...

Willie did indeed say something like that. Can't say I agree with him, but WT did play Higgins all through the 70s and 80s.

One point to make about Mark's break building: very often at his best he would basically chuck in the towel on 70 or 80 rather than attempt to make a century. It was one of those things he did for whatever reason. But for that I beleive he would be up to around 300-350 centuries for his career.

Anonymous said...

I would'nt bother with WT book Jamie, only 143 pages, many of which are taken up with photographs, it does not take long to read..

Anonymous said...

i wouldnt not buy a book because its got "only" 143 pages

id rather it had 143 pages than 200 and more filler

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

For me, Higgins will probably have been the last person in world snooker to have been a dominant force after Davis and Hendry.

When he came onto the scene he really was a hybrid of those two players; had fantastic defence like Davis;great attacking shots like Hendry. This was shown when he beat Davis to the Welsh Open in 95.

He really should've gone on and dominated the game towards the end of the 97/98 season onwards. Am I right in thinking to obtain the NO.1 spot for the 98/99 season he had to beat Hendry at the British Open Final, then hope that Hendry loses in the first round of the world championship (which he did to White,) and go on and win the world title. Which he did. And we took about the destruction against O'Sullivan in the GP Final 4 years ago. But that Friday afternoon against O'Sullivan in the 98 world semi-final was equally destructive!

Thanks, Joe

jamie brannon said...

I think it comes down to breakbuilding as Higgins was not particularly special in that area,while Thorne hit 126 centuries in an era where it was rare to make 100 centuries. I thought you would say that about Williams and I agree, but Ronnie and perhaps every down tools a bit after the frame won. Incidentally I worked out that Ronnie has the best percentage for centurybreaks in relation to how many years pro. He is just over 33 per cent while Stephen is at just over 30 per cent. Also I worked out Ding was just ahead of John Higgins.

Anonymous said...

How many ranking titles did Thorne win Jamie, and lets not forget his missed blue oh dear!!!


jamie brannon said...

I never said Thorne was a great player, he underacheived though. I think he is a bit bitter about it and maybe thats why someone like Higgins gets his dander up as he won lots more despite not being the century maker Willie was.

Anonymous said...

Jamie ranking tournament wins--

Higgins 1
Thorne 1

snookerfanatic said...

John Higgins is a class act. I personally feared he would dominate the post Hendry years. Not another Scot I thought! Please not.

I took great delight in Williams stopping him in 2 semis 1999 and 2000 when he was clear favourite to add to his 1998 title.

But since that time and especially in the latter half of this decade I've seriously warmed to him both as a person and a player.

His snooker at this years World Championship was up there with the very best of all time. The way he managed to overcome Jamie Cope and then Mark Selby from a losing position was pretty phenomenal.

One this is for sure with Higgins. If you would put your life on any one player making a clearance when he absolutely had to under the biggest pressure possible, you'd not choose any other player.

A class act through and through.

Mr hey you said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hello again Dave
It seems we all use a different measurement to access CLASS or a class act. John Higgins is a fair wee player and has equally as much Class as Steve, Stephen or Shaun Murphy to mention three other World Champs.

I know John’s game very well and I assure you John has nothing in the cupboard. I know! I have prayed often with John both at Saint Mary's and often at Park Head. Mr hey you