In a previous article, I wrote about my sporting idol Alex Higgins, now I would like to share with you about watching him play live snooker. I’ve always been a great fan of his ever since I was a lad really! That said as well, I loved watching snooker with my late Dad.

Whenever I watched Alex on the telly, I always stayed up in the early hours of the morning – sometimes without going to bed. My homework suffered a bit because of this but who cares! Alex was known for his quick-fire snooker play which I loved to watch. It was for this reason he was nicknamed ‘The Hurricane’.

I first saw Alex play live in 1983. I was living in South Wales at the time. One evening, Alex was playing Jimmy White in Cardiff for some sort of trophy – I can’t remember the name of it now though. However, I do remember the overnight score – 7-5 to Jimmy. There was some great snooker being played by both players! Jimmy ran out the winner 13-12. After the match, both players stayed behind to sign a few autographs; I managed to get both Alex’s and Jimmy’s – Alex said to me “Thank you for coming” – that was a night I shall never forget in a hurry.

In 1985, I saw Alex play live again, this time he was playing Terry Griffiths in The World Snooker Championships at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. I was living in Buxton at this point in my life, it was a residential home run by Scope. I went with some other residents who lived there. We all arrived on the Friday evening. I remember sitting at the back of the auditorium. I have to confess, the view was excellent, we could see all the action looking right down at the table.

So, to the match itself. When we all arrived for the evening session, Terry was leading Alex, 5-4. There was some very good snooker being played. Although I remember how the match went, Alex played some good safety as well as some good potting. Terry was getting the upper-hand during the match, however, his “play” was very slow to say the least. It’s fair to say that Alex wasn’t playing well that night. The match ended 13-7 to Terry. Once again, it’s a night I’ll never forget.

Well, onto 2004. I saw Alex play live again, this time in York. He was being welcomed at the York Barbican Centre – playing against Jimmy White. This time, however – only in a friendly match. This was at the time when Alex was very poorly with throat cancer. I have to say that he looked very thin indeed. Due to Alex’s health they only played nine frames between each other. I remember Alex was looking quite ‘shabby’ and frail. However, he did manage to play the end of the match, but I don’t remember what the score was.

After the match had ended, I went backstage to get Alex’s autograph: I did so. A lady with a camera came up to me and Alex said “What about a photo?” so the lady took one of myself with Alex which I still have to this day.

Although Alex was a great snooker player, many people poke their noses into his private life. You might say that it’s been controversial at the best of times! Like I said I only wish all the media and the press would have left him alone to get on with his snooker, as he would have been a far better player rather than what the papers write about him all the time!

To me, Alex will always remain one of the most amazing snooker players that ever lifted up a snooker cue. In fact, the actor Oliver Reed summed this up when he said “I don’t act because I think I’m marvellous, I do it for a living. The public want to be entertained, we are both professional entertainers. We are both shocking or amusing and Alex feels the same way.”