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Alex Higgins: He was one of us, a corner boy

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Alex Higgins

Alex Higgins

Alex Higgins: Snooker. 1972

Alex Higgins: Snooker. 1972

Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins, 1949-2010

Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins, 1949-2010

<br /><b>Alex Higgins</b><br />
'The Hurricane' played snooker with a style and verve never before seen and won the World Championship in 1972, beating John Spencer in the final and again in 1982. That latter triumph, against six-times champion Ray Reardon, is best remembered for Higgins' tears at the end as he cradled his baby daughter in his arms. Higgins' win over Jimmy White in the semi-final was regarded as one of the all time great matches, particularly the Belfast cueman's 69 break in the penultimate frame on the way to a 16-15 victory. The Hurricane is almost as well known for his off-the-table bust-ups and his many run-ins with snooker officialdom over the years. But despite his difficulties, he remains one of the most gifted players ever to pick up a cue, with Ronnie O'Sullivan the only current star worthy of a mention in the same breath.

<br /><b>Alex Higgins</b><br /> 'The Hurricane' played snooker with a style and verve never before seen and won the World Championship in 1972, beating John Spencer in the final and again in 1982. That latter triumph, against six-times champion Ray Reardon, is best remembered for Higgins' tears at the end as he cradled his baby daughter in his arms. Higgins' win over Jimmy White in the semi-final was regarded as one of the all time great matches, particularly the Belfast cueman's 69 break in the penultimate frame on the way to a 16-15 victory. The Hurricane is almost as well known for his off-the-table bust-ups and his many run-ins with snooker officialdom over the years. But despite his difficulties, he remains one of the most gifted players ever to pick up a cue, with Ronnie O'Sullivan the only current star worthy of a mention in the same breath.

Alex Higgins

Alex Higgins

Alex Higgins

Alex Higgins

This close-up picture of Alex Higgins taken by Ulster photographer Cathal McNaughton

This close-up picture of Alex Higgins taken by Ulster photographer Cathal McNaughton

&lt;b&gt;ALEX HIGGINS &lt;/b&gt;
Until the robotic Stephen Hendry turned up as a 21-year-old world snooker champion in 1990, Alex &quot;Hurricane&quot; Higgins had been the youngest ever winner of the title, when he beat John Spencer in the best-of-73-frames 1972 final. 

It was Higgins' first appearance at the tournament and his flamboyant style and break-neck speed around the table earned him the &quot;Hurricane&quot; sobriquet. It is a nickname that could just as easily have applied to his life away from the beize, although the notoriously sedate snooker arena also witnessed its fair share of storms. 

At the 1986 UK championships, Higgins was fined and disqualified for head-butting a referee. Four years later, after a first round defeat at The Crucible, Higgins punched a tournament official before going on to announce his retirement from the game.

<b>ALEX HIGGINS </b> Until the robotic Stephen Hendry turned up as a 21-year-old world snooker champion in 1990, Alex "Hurricane" Higgins had been the youngest ever winner of the title, when he beat John Spencer in the best-of-73-frames 1972 final. It was Higgins' first appearance at the tournament and his flamboyant style and break-neck speed around the table earned him the "Hurricane" sobriquet. It is a nickname that could just as easily have applied to his life away from the beize, although the notoriously sedate snooker arena also witnessed its fair share of storms. At the 1986 UK championships, Higgins was fined and disqualified for head-butting a referee. Four years later, after a first round defeat at The Crucible, Higgins punched a tournament official before going on to announce his retirement from the game.

Snooker legend Alex Higgins. 2010

Snooker legend Alex Higgins. 2010

Alan Lewis

Alex Higgins   in 1999 at his friend Ollie Reed's funeral in County Cork

Alex Higgins in 1999 at his friend Ollie Reed's funeral in County Cork

Alan Lewis

Alex Higgins  pictured at a bar in Belfast

Alex Higgins pictured at a bar in Belfast

Mark Pearce

Alex 'Hurrican' Higgins

Alex 'Hurrican' Higgins

Alex 'Hurrican' Higgins.

Alex 'Hurrican' Higgins.

Alex Higgins  pictured at a bar in Belfast where he spoke about his his  autobiography &quot;Alex Higgins  'My Story' from the eye of the Hurricane&quot;.

Alex Higgins pictured at a bar in Belfast where he spoke about his his autobiography "Alex Higgins 'My Story' from the eye of the Hurricane".

Mark Pearce

Alex Higgins. 16/3/81.

Alex Higgins. 16/3/81.

Alex &quot;Hurricane&quot; Higgins pictured 19th April 1980.259/80

Alex "Hurricane" Higgins pictured 19th April 1980.259/80

Alex Higgins. 10/5/85.

Alex Higgins. 10/5/85.

Former World Champion snooker star Alex Higgins enjoys a day out at the races despite fighting off the effects of throat cancer.

Former World Champion snooker star Alex Higgins enjoys a day out at the races despite fighting off the effects of throat cancer.

Alex Higgins pictured in the mid 1980's

Alex Higgins pictured in the mid 1980's

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Alex Higgins considering his next shot during the 1983  World Snooker Championships in Sheffield.

Alex Higgins considering his next shot during the 1983 World Snooker Championships in Sheffield.

Adrian Murrell

Oliver Reid, Reg Presley &amp; Alex Higgins

Oliver Reid, Reg Presley & Alex Higgins

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  Exhibition match at Waterfront.  (19/06/1997)

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. Exhibition match at Waterfront. (19/06/1997)

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  Oliver Reed and Alex Higgins.  (December 1992)

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. Oliver Reed and Alex Higgins. (December 1992)

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  (02/06/1993)

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. (02/06/1993)

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  A familiar sights for snooker fans... Irish professional champion Alex Higgins wiping his cue with a towel during last night's title match against Dennis Taylor in the Ulster Hall.  Higgins won the first session 7-2 in the 41 frame decider which is being presented by the 'Belfast Telegraph' and Kearney Promotions.    (03/02/1978)

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. A familiar sights for snooker fans... Irish professional champion Alex Higgins wiping his cue with a towel during last night's title match against Dennis Taylor in the Ulster Hall. Higgins won the first session 7-2 in the 41 frame decider which is being presented by the 'Belfast Telegraph' and Kearney Promotions. (03/02/1978)

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend.

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend.

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  Alex Higgins senior pictured with his son after Alex had regained the Smithwick's Irish Professional Snooker Championship in Maysfield Leisure Centre.  Alex won the final against reigning champion Dennis Taylor by 16 frames to 11.

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. Alex Higgins senior pictured with his son after Alex had regained the Smithwick's Irish Professional Snooker Championship in Maysfield Leisure Centre. Alex won the final against reigning champion Dennis Taylor by 16 frames to 11.

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  World professional snooker champion Alex Higgins (right), who was in Belfast to-day for the wedding of his sister, Jean, of Abingdon Street to John Robson, Crumlin Road.  The couple were married in St. Aidan's Parish Chursh, Blythe Street, Sandy Row, Belfast.

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. World professional snooker champion Alex Higgins (right), who was in Belfast to-day for the wedding of his sister, Jean, of Abingdon Street to John Robson, Crumlin Road. The couple were married in St. Aidan's Parish Chursh, Blythe Street, Sandy Row, Belfast.

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend.

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend.

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  Four Ulster sportsmen were given Texaco Sportstars of the Year Awards (1982) at a banquet in Dublin last - John Watson, Barry McGuigan, Gerry Armstrong and Alex Higgins.  Photographed at the ceremony were McGuigan, Northern Ireland team manager Billy Bingham, who collected the trophy on behalf of Armstrong and Higgins.

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. Four Ulster sportsmen were given Texaco Sportstars of the Year Awards (1982) at a banquet in Dublin last - John Watson, Barry McGuigan, Gerry Armstrong and Alex Higgins. Photographed at the ceremony were McGuigan, Northern Ireland team manager Billy Bingham, who collected the trophy on behalf of Armstrong and Higgins.

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  Alex Higgins, pictured with the championship trophy he intends to hold on to.  (12/03/1983)

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. Alex Higgins, pictured with the championship trophy he intends to hold on to. (12/03/1983)

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  Snooker star Alex Higgins signs autographs for twins Brenda (left) and Geraldine Brammled at the press conference to announce the details of the Irish Professional Snooker Championship, which will be held in the Antrim Forum from February 9-12.  (1988)

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. Snooker star Alex Higgins signs autographs for twins Brenda (left) and Geraldine Brammled at the press conference to announce the details of the Irish Professional Snooker Championship, which will be held in the Antrim Forum from February 9-12. (1988)

Charles Cockcroft

17-05-1982, World Snooker Champion, Alex Higgins is saluted by his baby daughter Lauren with his wife Lynne, after a nail-biting battle against six-times champion Ray Reardon at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

17-05-1982, World Snooker Champion, Alex Higgins is saluted by his baby daughter Lauren with his wife Lynne, after a nail-biting battle against six-times champion Ray Reardon at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

PA

05-01-1980. Confetti scatters at the wedding of Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins and bride Lynn, at the United Reform church in Wilmslow.

05-01-1980. Confetti scatters at the wedding of Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins and bride Lynn, at the United Reform church in Wilmslow.

PA

05-01-1980. Confetti scatters at the wedding of Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins and bride Lynn, at the United Reform church in Wilmslow.

05-01-1980. Confetti scatters at the wedding of Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins and bride Lynn, at the United Reform church in Wilmslow.

PA

21-04-1986, Alex Higgins enjoys a cigarette during a moment's break during the Embassy World Snooker Championship match against John Spencer in Sheffield.

21-04-1986, Alex Higgins enjoys a cigarette during a moment's break during the Embassy World Snooker Championship match against John Spencer in Sheffield.

PA

13-04-1973, world professional snooker champion Alex Higgins shows off his new look, as created by Tom Gilbey.

13-04-1973, world professional snooker champion Alex Higgins shows off his new look, as created by Tom Gilbey.

PA

Noel Cairns holds a shopping list given to him by former snooker champion Alex Higgins, near Ulidia House in south Belfast where Higgin's body was discovered.

Noel Cairns holds a shopping list given to him by former snooker champion Alex Higgins, near Ulidia House in south Belfast where Higgin's body was discovered.

Paul Faith

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  Surrounded by beautiful girls, the lightning Alex. 'Hurricane' Higgins signs autographs for fans Jacqui McFerran, Marion Allen and Catherine McFerran.  (15/04/80)

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. Surrounded by beautiful girls, the lightning Alex. 'Hurricane' Higgins signs autographs for fans Jacqui McFerran, Marion Allen and Catherine McFerran. (15/04/80)

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  World snooker champion Alexander 'Hurricane' Higgins in Belfast.  (08/11/1976)

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. World snooker champion Alexander 'Hurricane' Higgins in Belfast. (08/11/1976)

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  (February 1978)

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. (February 1978)

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  Exhibition match at Waterfront.  (19/06/1997)

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. Exhibition match at Waterfront. (19/06/1997)

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend.

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  Exhibition match at Waterfront.  (19/06/1997)

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. Exhibition match at Waterfront. (19/06/1997)

Alex Higgins.  Snooker Legend.  Exhibition match at Waterfront.  (19/06/1997)

Alex Higgins. Snooker Legend. Exhibition match at Waterfront. (19/06/1997)

Former World Snooker Player Champion Alex &quot;Hurricane&quot; Higgins  at his book signing in Easons 02.06.07.

Former World Snooker Player Champion Alex "Hurricane" Higgins at his book signing in Easons 02.06.07.

VIPIRELAND.COM

Snooker legend Alex Higgins spotted  Tallaght 2005.

Snooker legend Alex Higgins spotted Tallaght 2005.

VIPIRELAND.COM

Alex Higgins 4/3/82

Alex Higgins 4/3/82

PA

Snooker star Alex Higgins is taken to hospital with stab wounds after an incident involving a woman. 2008

Snooker star Alex Higgins is taken to hospital with stab wounds after an incident involving a woman. 2008

PA Photos

25-7-2010Flowers for Alex Higgins are left at a muralon the Donegal Road  to in honour of the snooker legend who died yesterday in Belfast.

25-7-2010Flowers for Alex Higgins are left at a muralon the Donegal Road to in honour of the snooker legend who died yesterday in Belfast.

Alex Higgins

Alex Higgins

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Alex Higgins

South Belfast pensioners Jim and Isobel love sitting outside their favourite cafe on Sandy Row, sipping cappuccinos, smoking a cigarette and watching the world go by.

The couple are fixtures on the street most days and would have often noticed Alex Higgins pass by on his usual route from his nearby flat to the bookmakers.

“We hadn’t seen him since Wednesday, that was the last time,” Isobel said.

Above the cafe are The Player’s Lounge Snooker Rooms, filled with photographs of “the legend” where he once played.

The couple and other locals spent yesterday reminiscing about the days when Alex was a star — and taking in the sadness of his death at the age of 61.

“I remember him playing snooker. When he became a champion, the place was better than the Twelfth,” Isobel said.

“His mother and father lived in Abingdon Drive. They opened their doors to everybody, there was Champagne, it was a great atmosphere.”

While the streets were deserted, a large crowd gathered inside The Royal Bar opposite the Ulidia House Hostel, where Alex lived in recent times and died alone.

Close friend Terry Morrison pointed to a chair in the smoking area at the back of the pub: “He used to sit there. He drank in here everyday. He did his horse racing bets and then he would watch the races on the TV inside.”

There were signed pictures on the wall of Alex in his glory days. Terry pointed out the ‘smiley’ face which he would scribble with his autograph and there was a hint of his sense of humour with one signed ‘PS. I was sexy then...’

“Some people said he was grumpy and ignorant but the fella’ was ill,” said Terry. “Towards the end he couldn’t speak. He would scribble messages on bookie dockets. I kept them all. I read one last night and cried. We all knew some day he would come back here, to the place he was born and reared. He was one of us — a corner boy.”

On the corner opposite the pub, a bouquet of flowers was attached to the railings outside Alex’s flat with a card signed by the pub’s patrons, “To Alex, simply the best”.

A larger tribute was scrawled in graffiti on nearby shop shutters.

“We all loved him and miss him — he was part of the furniture,” Terry said.

Belfast Telegraph


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