17.10.11

THE ONE AND ONLY

One name guaranteed to be on the trophy for PTC8 this week is that of Alex Higgins, after whom the tournament has been named.

The 2009 six reds World Championship staged in Killarney was the last tournament Higgins competed in before his death last year so it is fitting that this same venue is paying tribute to him (even more fittingly, his last appearance with a cue was for Snooker Legends at the Crucible).

There have been more successful and better players but none more iconic than this Northern Irishman, who played a greater role than any other individual in dragging snooker up from its lowly status as a folk sport to a prime time television entertainment.

Higgins was a one-man soap opera living a tumultuous life of excess which garnered huge media attention but his contribution on the table should not be forgotten or underestimated.

He may not have set out to change the world of snooker but he did. He brought one thing to the game above all else: the people.

And the people stood by him as his rollercoaster life unravelled in full public gaze.

These days, Higgins would probably be considered to have a mental illness and be treated appropriately. 30 years ago he was simply regarded by many in the sport as a menace.

Patience, tested severely over the years, finally ran out for the WPBSA in 1990 after the volley of abuse he directed at Dennis Taylor at the World Cup and the punch he landed on Colin Randle, press officer at the World Championship.

Higgins had got himself back into the top 16 for the 1990/91 season but was banned for the whole of it and never recovered.

Maybe he should have been given more help, although it is true to say that many who tried to help him had it thrown back in their faces.

In his interesting new book 'Who Was Hurricane Higgins?', Tony Francis reveals that the WPBSA offered him a bungalow rent free for the rest of his life - but that he turned them down.

That was Alex. He was his own man, entirely unconcerned by how others saw him. He was a renegade, a one-off, and this only strengthened his appeal.

As Francis points out, people like Higgins are exciting from a distance. To have to deal with him up close on a tournament-to-tournament basis was not a lot of fun for officials, many of whom couldn’t wait for him to lose.

Example: he once turned up for some qualifiers at the Norbreck in Blackpool and asked an official to look after something until he had finished playing. It was a gun.

There are more stories about Higgins than any other player. Many of them are extraordinary and most are true.

He could be a frightening figure but intoxicating (and sometimes intoxicated) too.

His legend will only grow with the passing of the years. For all his faults – and he had many – Alex Higgins was a gift to snooker and it is entirely right that a tournament such as this remembers him.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

the ironic thing is if the WSA asked him if they could name a tournament after him he would have told them to get lost or far stronger words than that lol

Anonymous said...

the one and only peoples champion

others are just imposters

kildare cueman said...

Could be a nice way to remember deceased past players by naming all the PTCs after them.

There's already Hunter and Higgins. Surely Spencer, Charlton, Fred Davis etc. could have events named after them. Would also help give each PTC an identity of its own.

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of naming tournaments after deceased players. It doesn't do the present generation of players any favours by canonising the greats of the past.

Anonymous said...

330

it doesnt do them any favours

doesnt do any harm though

?

John McBride said...

Dave, Hi. I’m a big, big fan of the English language when used well. Stephen Fry, for example, he doesn’t waste words, he uses them to simply or purify a chapter or situation or topic, beautifully well. Alex Higgins was all them & more. I want the man to be respected for Snooker & Dave, your words are not wasted on him, nor is the wisdom you’ve used either. Lest we never forget.
RIP Alex.

Jeremy said...

I loved Higgins when I was a teenager, and was excited by his devil-may-care attitude and attacking snooker style. Then, as I grew up (and, hopefully, matured), and then studied psychology, I realised he was a classic case of the pyschopathic personality. Sadly, perhaps inevitably, madness (and / or psychopathy) and genius often go hand-in-hand!

Dave H said...

John McBride: I think you submitted something on the red or pink post but I inadvertently deleted it! Please re-post (I think it was you)

John McBride said...

Re: John McBride: I think you submitted something on the red or pink post but I inadvertently deleted it! Please re-post (I think it was you)

Done, or Did, or both.

Janie Watkins said...

Not sure about this new background Dave. Hard to read the links on sidebar.
Although I realise I am an old person with failing eyesight!

Anonymous said...

Dave, snooker blog is never going to be "hip and happening", and it doesn't need to be because your quality writing is enough. Let's have the old middle-aged snooker commentator background back.

Seifer Almasy said...

O'Sullivan, White and Trump are the only players fit to lift that trophy.

Anonymous said...

mjw or trump are the only ones fit to lift that trophy

Witz78 said...

Yes Higgins could be a rude nasty angry man but thats why we all loved him.

Without him snooker would still be a stuffy upper class sport, he was the figurehead of the revolution of the sport in the 70s and 80s who attracted masses of new fans to the sport and catipulted it to great popularity. Sadly whilst the sport flourished, Higgins sad downward spiral began before escalating once his form deserted him.

Without a doubt IMO the "best" player of all time, i use the term best loosely but what exactly does best mean, the most trophies? the most entertaining? the most iconic?

For me hes the greatest snooker legend of all time, he singled handedly transformed the sport, he was the most exciting player of all time, he played shots no-one could or would dream of playing plus the off the table controversies added to his aura.

kildare cueman said...

Witz, You have unwittingly conceived a potential debate there.

What is the definition of "the best".

For you its Higgins. For others its John Higgins, O'Sullivan, Davis, Hendry etc.

Is it world titles or tournaments won? Surely Joe Johnson isnt a better player than Jimmy White, even though he won one more world title than him.

Would Joe Davis or Ray Reardon have reached the top if they were starting out today?

If Higgins or O'Sullivan had turned pro in 1985 as 18 year olds, would Hendry have won 7 world titles?

Perhaps theres a snooker/sci-fi novel waiting to be written where all the top players are united via time travel and play a year on the tour together.

I think I'd better stop now. Im starting to confuse myself.

Anonymous said...

kc

add: would hendry have upped his game even more if theyd been about then?

my opinion: yes

Anonymous said...

It's pretty clear what Witz means by "best". He means that he his the greatest player, as opposed to the most successful or the most accomplished. No-one transformed the nature of the game and popularised it to the same extent. Joe Davis, Steve Davis and Hendry are unquestionably the most successful, but success is a moving target: Hendry would have not won as much in this era, and neither would either Davis. Neither Steve or Hendry would have won as much in the 70s, simply because there wasn't much around to win. Therefore success is a variable, not a factor, and as such only defines an era, and cannot transcend it. Only one player has truly transcended his era.

Anonymous said...

The question that should be asked is how much would Steve have won with Alex's lifestyle? The same question could also apply to Stephen and Jimmy. The answer would probably be very little indeed.
Most sportsmen today go to any lengths to try and gain an edge on their opponents. Alex and Jimmy seemed to go to extreme lengths to negate the huge talent they had for the game.But who really cares when they played the most exciting snooker that nobody will forget in a hurry. They made snooker sexy.

Anonymous said...

anon 8.51am

Higgins,Ronnie and Williams wouldnt have Won as much had Hendry played to his best This era and theres no Question maybee he wouldnt have won 7 WC but he would have stil have won more than the other 3.

and Regarding Alex he was the best thing ever for Snooker he was a original in everything he did and inspired a future Generation that included Jimmy White and Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Seifer Almasy said...

Witz talking sense as usual. Strength of opposition changes, and 5 world finals for White in a row from 1990-94 and 6 world titles for Hendry 1990-1996 shows what a weak era early to mid 90's actual was.

As good as these 2 were they were not that good and could not have done that post 1996.

kildare cueman said...

You'd wonder why Doherty and Ebdon didn't win the world title in the "weak" era of early to mid 90's.

Anonymous said...

well said KC @959. seems someone is determined to goad other users who have been here for years and posting without any issue at all.