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Snooker Legend Alex 'hurricane' Higgins Dies At 61

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Former world snooker champion Alex Higgins has died aged 61 after a long battle against throat cancer.

The 1972 and 1982 world champion, a heavy smoker, was reportedly found dead in his flat in Belfast on Saturday.

Recent newspaper pictures showed a painfully thin Higgins in Spain after his hopes of having surgery to get new teeth had been dashed.

Higgins lost all his teeth during his cancer treatment but was not deemed fit enough to have the surgery.

The legendary Northern Ireland player had been suffering from throat cancer for more than a decade and he blamed his illness largely on the cigarette makers who sponsored his sport.

His weight had reportedly plummeted to only seven stone as he had to have all his food pureed because eating in a normal fashion had become excruciating.

Friends of the controversial snooker legend had raised around £20,000 to enable Higgins to have the surgery in Spain.

However, he was deemed too frail to undergo the operation by the Spanish medics.

o.gifHiggins was in the news in May after claiming that he had knowledge of at least four top players taking bribes to lose tournament matches.

The Northern Ireland legend also revealed that he turned down several big-money offers to throw games in his career.

Higgins, the world champion in 1972 and 1982, claimed Greek gamblers offered him £18,000 in 1979 to lose his Benson & Hedges Masters quarter-final against Perrie Mans and £20,000 to cheat at the Irish Masters in 1989 but rejected both.

Higgins was scheduled to appear in the new World Seniors Championship in November.

The Belfast man clinched his first World title in 1972 as he defeated John Spencer in the final and memorably repeated that triumph 10 years later at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield by beating Ray Reardon.

Higgins was also beaten in the 1976 and 1980 world finals while other triumphs included two Masters titles at Wembley.

He had frequent brushes with snooker's governing body - he once head-butted a tournament director - and his career suffered a downward spiral after being banned for an entire season following a threat to have his compatriot Dennis Taylor shot in 1990.

"I don't think you'll ever see a player in the game of snooker like the great Alex Higgins."

BBC snooker commentator Philip Studd described Higgins as "snooker's original, troubled genius".

o.gif "Charismatic, flash, fast, unpredictable, combustible - you just couldn't take your eyes off the 'Hurricane'," the BBC commentator told Radio 5 live.

"While he could never match the consistency of Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry, Higgins on his day was the greatest of them all.

"He touched the heights in 1982 when he won his second world title.

"He pipped Jimmy White to the final thanks to a break still widely regarded as the finest ever made.

"His tears of triumph after beating Ray Reardon - wife and baby in arms - remains one of snooker's most iconic moments.

"Without Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins snooker would never have become one of the most popular television sports in the 1980s and beyond."

Higgins was married twice and had two children with his second wife Lynn, whom he later divorced.

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He was one of those self destructive geniuses.... his like does not come along often huh.gif

He will be missed by some and not by others but his style of play was always entertaining yes.gif

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He was one of those self destructive geniuses.... his like does not come along often huh.gif

He will be missed by some and not by others but his style of play was always entertaining yes.gif

Hear, Hear :thumbsup: I cannot add to what you said , Steve :yes: except

R.I.P. Alex Higgins, one of the greats :(

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Always on the edge of greatness but never quite getting there...

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Always on the edge of greatness...

Higgins was greatness, the self proclaimed peoples champion. IMO the best ever player snooker has seen, not measured by titles, but by the way he played the game, he was fantastic.. if it wasn't for Alex Higgins the players of today wouldn't be playing the game, as reported in the first post... it was Higgins who made snooker and it was him who made it what it is today.

R.I.P a true legend.. Alex "Hurricane" Higgins.

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A "No holds Barred & moving Epitaph

Vincent Hogan: A heavenly talent with Dante's anger in his head

By Vincent Hogan

Monday July 26 2010

THERE is a corner of Heaven today getting pulled, kicking and screaming, down to the local Jam Pot.

Now you won't be alone if you doubt the possibility of Alex Higgins ever clapping eyes on Saint Peter, let alone getting beyond the padlocked gate.

He led an often sinful life and, to be perfectly honest, wasn't always the most gracious of men. But every mother loved him and, I suspect, the weight of female prayer will probably swing the deal now.

Which means the Almighty better be ready to go to war on house rules. Because Alex will defy no-smoking signs, his language will be coarse, he'll probably drink when he shouldn't and neglect to come down for breakfast when he should. Chances are, he'll break the stipulations on gambling, women and prayer.

And if there's a tie to be worn to dinner, well it's just not going to happen.

Alex's death feels a bit like a line drawn under a glorious era. When he was king, snooker was a book you couldn't put down. The game's main stars had more behavioural issues than the Royles and there wasn't a week went by that they failed to give the tabloids a front-page lead.

Tastes varied from cocaine to women's underwear to vast quantities of alcohol, consumed – in some cases – at the table. And they could be so waspish to one another, they ought really have gone to work in bee-keeper hats. Tuning into The Crucible every April was like watching an episode of ‘Shameless'.

Then again, with Higgins, it was never really snooker we were drawn to. It was a communion of poetry, war, sex – maybe an addiction even. He didn't enter an auditorium, he invaded it. Alex would arrive at the table like a man who was double-parked, his game plan eschewing safety (or even pausing for breath). He played so fast, he was in perpetual danger of striking a still-moving ball. Referees looked in terror of him.

So, you watched this skinny, electric figure go to work noisily, slapping his cue aggressively off the table, murmuring private oaths and – routinely – hosing down enough vodka to knock out a horse. By rights, he shouldn't have been able to stand at the end of an evening session. Yet, Alex could almost levitate.

Where others were deliberate to the point of being mechanical, Higgins had a dysfunctional relationship with the cue ball. His critical break of 69 against Jimmy White in the penultimate frame of the '82 World Championship semi-final maybe caught that genius in microcosm. For he pulled it off without even once appearing to have control of the white.

It was like seeing the British Open won by someone with chronic vertigo. I once requested an interview at Goffs and he looked at me as if I was asking for a date. In fact, briefly, I half expected to take a punch in the face. But it turned out Alex really just wanted to make a point of principle.

The front page of that morning's Irish Independent had carried a photograph of him at the races, with trademark cigarette cupped in hand. It was, according to Alex, an image that depicted him “in a bad light.” This waif-thin man, who'd lain waste to just about every moral code imaginable, refused to be interviewed because we'd just ‘outed' him as a smoker.

Back then, the Irish Masters was just gathering steam and the players were all billeted in the old Green Isle Hotel. One of them told me that his room was directly next to Higgins' and he would be woken at exactly the same time each morning by the sound of vomiting in the next toilet.


Everyone knew the obnoxious, unpleasant side to a man who once christened himself “the Cassius clay of snooker.” Yet, they knew too that he brought something to their sport that flew beyond technical forensic.

Remember, the snooker world Higgins first conquered in '72 pre-dated plump prize-funds and even the faintest curiosity of media. His monetary reward for defeating John Spencer in a final stretching to 12 sessions over six days was a paltry £480. He stayed in an attic room at The Pebbles boarding house, directly opposite the British Legion club where the final took place.

It is said that, during the final, he received a letter from a girl back home in Belfast, declaring him the father of her new baby. The tenor of his life at the time is captured beautifully in Gordon Burn's wonderful book, ‘Pocket Money'. “He will celebrate the title by traveling to Australia, where he will be thrown out of one club for rubbishing a senior player and out of a hotel for demolishing his room,” wrote Burns.

“He will move on to India, where he will be escorted onto a return flight less than 24 hours after arriving, for getting drunk, stripping off and sticking his hand up an old man's dhoti.”

Ten years later, a sports magazine reported that Alex was “lying in a private clinic in Lancashire, incapable of holding down food, moaning that his talent had been thrown down the drain and that he had been exploited, talking of crying himself to sleep in lonely hotel rooms and of the consolation of vodka.”

Four months after that article appeared, he was again champion of the world. No question, when the big money came into snooker, the suits hated having Alex as big box office. He was too unmanageable and unpredictable. He couldn't be trusted to sing politely for the corporate shilling. They saw in him a flawed product. Maybe the rest of us saw a dream.

Personally, I never watched him play a game of snooker that I didn't want him to win. He was beautiful in a rotten way. A Heavenly talent with Dante's anger in his head. So, sleep well Alex, and go easy on the cursing. My dear old mother won't approve.

And she had you down as an angel.

- Vincent Hogan

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I think the above posts have pretty much said it all.I remember the Higgins era of snooker as the best ever and Alex Higgins may have played on the edge but played some of the most entertaining snooker I have ever had the pleasure to watch.

R.I.P Alex Higgins.Gone but certainly not forgotten :toast:

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