Sad To See You Leaving 2010: Alex Higgins

by George_East on December 27, 2010

Just about every boy in my secondary school played snooker and watched the tournaments on the telly, from BBC’s long gone Pot Black to the World Championship covered in hushed tones from the Crucible. It seems bizarre now that this game for bar room hustlers and middle aged men was the sporting sensation of the first half of the 1980s – but it was.

And the reason me and my mates were into snooker can be summed up in one word ‘Hurricane’. Alex Higgins was like no other snooker player before him, though some have sought to follow where he first trod notably Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan. When he first won the World Title in 1972 defeating John Spencer at the age of 22 he blew apart this fusty old world. He played at lightening speed with a ‘technique’ all of his own, not steady on the cue and with an erratic
follow through that often seemed to involve him almost leaping in the air rather than remaining in position as club tutors teach that you should. It was the technique of a self-taught scrapper from Belfast with more natural talent for the game than any other player had probably ever had.

Similarly his tactical approach seemed to consist of ‘attack, attack, attack’. Defensive play rarely freatured in his snooker vocabulary. Higgins appeared to believe that frames should last no more than ten minutes rather than the 45 minutes that was so often the case with the dinosaurs of the game.

The moment that sold the game to my generation of school boys was his emotional second world championship win over the side burned Ray Reardon in 1982, as tears ran down his face and he beckoned his wife and child to join him as he received the trophy.

Snooker club suddenly found themselves with queues for membership. I started going to a snooker club every Sunday morning with a friend. Cue manufacturers couldn’t keep up with the demand. I asked for a cue for Christmas in 1982.

His chain smoking, hard drinking life added to the image of the man
as the George Best of snooker. He managed that most unlikely of achievements: for a short time snooker was rock n roll.

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