Familiar Tale of the Decline and Fall of a Major Sporting Star
Alex ('Hurricane') Higgins was one of the major stars of the televised snooker age. Although he only won the World Championship twice, in 1972 and 1982, his colorful style of play and extravagant behavior inside and outside various arenas ensured that he remained in the forefront of spectators' minds.
Brought up in a tough area of Belfast, Higgins was a self-made player who spent most of his younger days in snooker halls. Possessed of immense natural talent, he shot to fame in the early Seventies when he beat his one-time mentor John Spencer to win the world crown. When television started to become interested in the sport, initially through the series POT BLACK, Higgins was catapulted to stardom; his 1982 victory over Ray Reardon at the World Championships had a memorable denouement, when his wife and young daughter came out of the audience to embrace him; Higgins himself broke down in tears.
Sadly this success was not to last. Jason Bernard's documentary suggests that Higgins spent too much time carousing and not enough on practice; to snooker barons such as Barry Hearn - who founded the all-conquering Matchroom team - Higgins was a liability, someone who could prove unmanageable. Despite occasional flashes of his one- time brilliance, Higgins gradually slid down the rankings ladder, and was eventually reduced to the qualifying rounds of the World Championships.
Above all he was a stubborn man - even when he contracted throat cancer he refused to change his lifestyle. He continued to play, even though he was little more than a physical wreck, his once- attractive countenance ravaged by illness and alcohol. He died young; and although the stars turned out in force for his funeral, there was a lingering sense that the player himself was solely responsible for his demise.
While the documentary recognized the fact that he might have been 'The People's Champion' in his prime, by the end of his career he was a sad person.
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