May 19, 2010

Alex and his Pals at the Fundraising Dinner

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:21 pm

The Whirlwind, The Hurricane, Where's the Cue Ball Going and the Bolton Stud. Picture Courtesy of XPOSUREPHOTOS.COM

As reported earlier in the week stars from the world of snooker and the soaps were rallying to raise some cash for Alex Higgins by throwing a bash at a Manchester Chinese restaurant last night. His friend Jimmy White being at the centre of things as he so often has been for the ailing Hurricane.

Other guests at the Yang Sing restaurant included Coronation Street actors Ryan Thomas and Jack Shepherd, although the last thing I’d want to see when settling down for a nice meal is a grinning David Platt sitting opposite me.

It was also reported that Shaun Murphy, who now lives in nearby Sale and Stephen Lee who doesn’t but would travel anywhere for a Chinese Banquet also attended.

Apparently, many guests were forced to do a double take when they saw Higgins enter the function room after placing a bet at a nearby bookies. Or where they just simply aghast at the way in which Knowlesy has preserved his adonis like looks?

One guest said: ‘We knew Alex had been going through a hard time and had been poorly but we were still shocked by his appearance’.

‘He looked absolutely skeletal and it was clear he had not eaten a square meal in many months. It was such a tragedy to see him alongside all the other snooker legends who looked so fit and well’.

I don’t know who he was standing next to at the time but it can’t have been any of this lot as they clearly haven’t missed a square meal for many years.

Anyway, yesterday brought mixed feelings amongst snooker fans.

Alex found time for a bet before meeting up with the gang. XPOSUREPHOTOS.COM again.

Some said that Alex deserved all he got, Dave Hendon’s blog which reopened for business yesterday attracted some characteristically vehement, bordering on nasty comments directed towards the Hurricane, with some even suggesting that his legacy and influence on the sport is overstated. Rubbish, with due respect.

As I said in the comments on Monday I have mixed feelings, there are undoubtedly more deserving causes but one surely can’t help to be moved by seeing one of the true greats of the game coming to what some fear is a tragic end.

I’ll recount again the two times I encountered the Hurricane in my life:

The first time I met him was during a UK Final against Terry Griffiths when I was a kid, I had tickets for all four sessions and unusually after the first session he just turned up at the bar area on his own to have a drink. As I was a kid I was fearless and immediately went up to him against my dear departed Dad’s advice with my autograph book and addressed him as Mr Higgins, he was really kind to me and signed an autograph personally to me that I still have somewhere to this day (it says: To Snookerbacker all the best The Hurricane, it’s fair to say he expressed surprise at my name). He asked me if I played snooker and what my highest break was, he chatted to me for a couple of minutes then patted me on the head and went to the bar, he smiled at my dad who then duly bought him a pint. I remember also that he laughed when I said I got a bit bored with Steve Davis and he said ‘so do I’.

The second time was at the Crucible some years later, he was in the middle of a match and he came storming into the bar area in an obvious strop, me and my dad were inadvertantly standing in the way of his path to the door into somewhere or other (practice area I think) and he pushed my dad out of the way and shouted ‘get out of my f*****g way’ – he did it to a couple of others too. This kind of overshadowed the first meeting a bit and somewhat coloured my view of someone I was in awe of prior to this unfortunate incident. But at least he wasn’t holding a hairdryer at the time.

A complex character, a genius, a waste of space, a horrible man, a charismatic man, a bully or a generous soul. Probably all of them at different times in his life, or even times of the day.

If anyone else has any Hurricane stories, in particular if you have met him feel free to share in the comments section.

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