The bond between father and son is an important one in snooker.

It is born out of the fact that the dads invariably spend their weekends driving their boys to junior tournaments up and down motorways, sharing in their early successes and commiserating in their initial setbacks.

And when they turn professional they proudly look on, hoping that their kid will eventually sit on top of the snooker world.

In an emotional interview in today’s Guardian newspaper, John Higgins reveals that his father, John senior, has terminal cancer.

He has returned home to spend what time he has remaining with his family.

John senior took on the reins of management after Higgins’s bust-up with CueMasters in the early 1990s.

He chaperoned his son to tournaments and was a lively, friendly, personable presence backstage.

There was no one prouder when Higgins won the world title in 1998.

It was John senior who had first taken him and an elder brother to a local snooker club when Higgins was nine, which lit the blue touch paper for a lifetime’s love of the game.

He is one of a legion of snooker fathers who have played crucial roles in the lives and careers of their sons.

Ronnie O’Sullivan suffered a separation from his father at 16 that he never got over and which has affected him ever since.

Matthew Stevens said he “got drunk for two years” following the death of his dad, Morrell, in 2001.

I remember Morrell once telling me that when Matthew reached the 2000 world final he found himself sitting up in bed at night and shouting out into the darkness: “Bloody hell, my lad’s going to play in a Crucible final.”

Such pride after all the years in the junior ranks, as an amateur, as a rookie professional, working their way up, was typical of the community of parents on the circuit that have given the players room a family feel.

There was Colin Lee, father of Stephen, and Alan Hunter, father of Paul, two stalwarts backstage who enjoyed their snooker and were always sporting regardless of how their boys got on.

Snooker is, for all the often fevered debate that surrounds it, just a game.

But it’s a game that has brought John Higgins’s family great joy and his father was a vital part of that.


Anonymous said...

Been a bit of an Annus Horribilus For Higgins, hasn't it?

John McBride said...

It does put things into perspective when a family member falls ill. Nothing else seems to matter.

Matt said...

Poor Higgins, things have gone from bad to worse.

Anonymous said...

That was a sobering read. It is sad beyond words.

Ali said...

I read the exclusive interview in the Guardian today about John.

Very emotional.

jamie brannon said...

For me, the first frame in a best-of-five is of paramount importance, the fact the top players are winning the majority of them is why this format has not been a lottery. The leading cuemen are more likely to be settled from the off as they are used to the surroundings. If this format was used behind closed doors then we would be witnessing more shocks.

O'Sullivan was hilarious in the studio today, he would make a great pundit as he even more than Hendry is not afraid to say what he thinks, plus he would be a loose canon.

Hendry, described Lee as a waste of talent, and looking at his record in the 'big 3 events' I would agree.

Personally, any sport at the top level is more than just a game, it is a passion that can show us so much about human endeavour, bring communal unity, provide people with unbridled joy that not many other things can, factually I agree, but spiritually I think sport is more than just a game at the top level.

Anonymous said...

It's only a game compared to someone having cancer you silly boy

jamie brannon said...

If you read it properly Dave is not saying that. I definitely am not saying that is matter of life and death, just that sport is still serious and important at the highest level, to me my 7-side kickabout is just a game, but I feel the top-level of represents something more than being a mere game, I know I will be in a small minority on this, but I have heard quality journalists say something similar.