I’m sure at some point there will be a TV film called ‘Hurricane’ staring that guy who played Charles Bronson. I’ll probably watch it, just to relive the 1982 World Snooker Championships, witness this twitching figure, creeping around the table, ready to sink another ball, before the ref has had a chance to place a colour on the spot, his concentrated facial expression barely  concealing the inner rage. Even watching Higgins relax, if relax is the right word was just as entertaining. There at the small table, he’d be sucking cigs, surrounded as he often was with good luck cards, birthday cards or get well soon cards. I remember one championship one when he had a cold he took a little pot of honey, spooning it into his concoction. 
I admired Higgins. He was my first hero, before Zico. My nan disliked him. He wasn’t a nice boy like Steve Davis, he also wasn’t as boring. Over the past thirty odd years you’ll have comne across many terms to describe him; words Hellraiser, Pisshead, Irish, Wildman, Genius, Hurricance. But I don’t think such terms suitably descibe his complexity or indeed his talent. Like George Best at the top of of his game he  was the greatest in his field. Any clearance or a visit to the table by Higgins was far more entertaining, shambolic and inspirational than that any of other snooker player before or since. And at the boorish who want to question his talent or dedication, as far as I’m aware,  he was forever working on his game and putting in the hours. I doubt you could fluke TWO world snooker championships, and in such style. That he didn’t capitalise on this, wasted it, pissed hs life away, however you wish, and Im sure the tabloids will, wish to term it, was obviously the tragic. part. Although his reputation off the ball preceded him, as a child I identified with the spirit of the kind of underdog (which he was far from), the gentle voice and in some cases his non compliance to the establishment were, I felt admirable, when placed alongside swotty Steve Davis and all that lot. 
I’m against shambolic rebels when they have no talent or skill, when they are overrated, overhyped. Alex Higgins wasn’t overrated. And certainly never hyped. He was creative, imaginative, talented and his 1982 campaign, encapsulated all that was characteristically Higgins, how his style and inventiveness outshone his contemporaries and brought a new lease of life to the sport. He’s a kind of fairytale anti-hero who you’d tell your grand kids about. I’d even say that although snooker was generally popular in the 80s, it was the likes of Higgins contributed enormously to its widespread popularity. The 1982 semi-final between with Jimmy White needs to come out on the cinema. For non snooker fans like myself, it is the best game you may ever see in your life. ‘Hurricane VS Whirlwind 1982’. 

Advertisements