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Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins

ON 24 July, the sport of Snooker lost one of its legends.

Alex Higgins ‘The Hurricane’ died at the age of 61 in his home town of Belfast after a 12 year long battle with throat cancer.

He was the bad boy of the golden age of Snooker, and was never far from controversy. He was rarely seen without a cigarette in one hand and a pint in the other when his opponent was at the table. But when he was at the table he seemed to be able to rewrite the laws of physics.

His greatest ever match was against Jimmy White in the Semi-Finals of the 1982 World Championship. The match swung one way and then the other, and was played at a lighting pace for the time. White was one red away from advancing to the Final, but missed it with the rest. Higgins then produced what is generally regarded as the finest break (69) in Snooker history. The Hurricane would go onto win the match 16-15, and then became World Champion for the second time – ten years after his first title – beating fellow legend Ray Reardon 18-15 in the Final.

However, Higgins’s heavy smoking and drinking caught up with him as he was diagnosed with the throat cancer that would ultimately kill him in 1998. He also became an obsessive gambler, and admitted using cocaine and weed in his past.

In his final months he took part in the Snooker Legends Tour debut event at the home of Snooker – The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. In an unrelated event his fellow professionals and friends tried to raise £20,000 so that he could get a new set of teeth fitted. His original set of teeth had fallen out during his radiotherapy, and was reported to be living on liquid food. At the time of his death he weight only six stones (38Kg).

Higgins near the end of his life.

Yes he may have made several wrong turns in his life, but to me and the rest of the Snooker world, he will be remembered as one of the golden generation who brought Snooker out of the clubs and into our living rooms.

When asked for my fantasy Snooker match I reply with this: “Alex Higgins vs. Ronnie O’Sullivan. Higgins to win.”

Rest in peace Alex, you are in pain no longer.

AUSTRALIA’S Neil Robertson, 28, has become the first Australian to win the World Snooker Championship since Horace Lindrum in 1952. Robertson is also the first non-British winner since 1997 (Ken Doherty, RoI) and the first non-British or Irish winner since 1980 (Cliff Thorburn, Canada).

Neil Robertson – World Champion

The ‘Thunder from Down Under’ beat Scotland’s Graeme Dott 18 frames to 13 in a pretty anti-climatic final at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. Both players didn’t play at their best with numerous easy misses and not too excellent positional play. Dott scored the only century of the final, 112 in the 22nd frame. The last ball was potted at 00:54 BST.

On his way to the world title, Robertson beat: Fergal O’Brien (10-5), Martin Gould (13-12), six-time world champion Steve Davis (13-5) and Ali Carter (17-12).

Remarkably, Robertson was 0-6 and 5-11 down to Gould in the second round.

For me the highlight of this year’s tournament was the legendary Steve Davis beating defending champion John Higgins 13-11 in the second round. With this win Davis made his first quarter-finals in the world championship since 2005, and at the age of 52, became the oldest player to reach this stage since Eddie Charlton in 1983 (the year of Davis’s second world title).

Mark Allen made the first ever 146 break at the Crucible in the second round against Mark Davis. Graeme Dott then went on to make the same break later on in the tournament to split the £10,000 for the highest break.