Snooker's emergence from folk sport to frontline television entertainment can be traced chiefly to two component parts: colour television and Alex Higgins.
It was colour TV that gave the game its exposure; it was Higgins who became its first bona fide star.
A hero to many, an anti-hero to many more, he created interest and headlines with his wayward life and intoxicating playing-style. He was the sort of figure every sport needs: a combustible cocktail of talent and temper, brilliance and self-destruction.
40 years ago, Higgins won his first world title at the age of 22. The Crucible this was not. In the age before the professional circuit exploded on TV the World Championship passed by largely under the radar.
When Clive Everton wrote to the sports editor of the Daily Telegraph to see if he wanted any coverage he received the sniffy reply: "only if it's played in London."
Pot Black on BBC2 had begun to make household names of the players but as a sport snooker still had a long way to go to earn acceptance.
The 1972 World Championship was not played in London but Birmingham, at the Selly Park British Legion.
The championship had ground on for the best part of a year before producing its two finalists: Higgins and John Spencer, thedefending champion.
Trotting out the facts of the environment in which this historic match was played makes it look like something out of an episode of Life on Mars, but they are still true and a reminder that the circuit was not always cash rich, that the top players were not always so lucky.
The unexpectedly large crowd were packed in on seats placed on stacked beer crates, or watched hanging from any available vantage point in a scene which would give modern day health and safety jobsworths a heart attack.
With a miners’ strike and power cuts afflicting Britain, the conventional lighting gave out on the second evening, as did the heating. The players agreed to continue under much duller lighting provided by a mobile generator.
The final was played over six days. On the fifth, Spencer got stuck in a lift in his hotel for 25 minutes due to a power cut. The session was delayed for ten minutes until he turned up.
It was this session which turned the final Higgins's way. The players had kept pace until he won all six frames played that evening. He won the match 37-31. The first prize was a mere £480.
By the time Higgins won his second world title a decade later the sport had been transformed. His epic semi-final against Jimmy White and final victory over Ray Reardon were the talk of the nation. His tearful celebration with wife and baby daughter remain iconic sporting images.
It was the final proof that Higgins had unwittingly helped to pull snooker from the back room to the living room. He won £25,000 as sponsors began to throw money at the game.
He of course will not be at the Crucible this year to mark these two anniversaries. Higgins died in pitiful circumstances in 2010, the Hurricane long since a sad shadow of the man who created so much excitement and controversy.
But as long as people talk about snooker they will talk about Alex Higgins.
It's an irony he may have enjoyed that snooker's long road to respectability was given such momentum by a man who sought no such thing.