Sport on TV: Higgins led way in crying game as Davis wept over spilt beer

This week the snooker world will cast its bleary eye over John Higgins as he attends a hearing into gambling allegations. Another News of the World sting; perhaps his slow, deliberate style of play might help to shore up the Pakistan middle-order. But while the framed Higgins waits for total clearance, his namesake Alex could have faced all sorts of insinuations about match-fixing, such was his often chaotic approach to the biggest games and his obsession with gambling.

Alex Higgins – The People's Champion (BBC2, Wednesday) showed that it was not just the Hurricane's speed that set him apart from other players in snooker's formative years on colour television, it was also his flamboyant character, and this tribute reminded us how incredibly dull Steve Davis was. They didn't get on, and when they once shared a flight to Canada, Davis was "so nervous that I knocked a beer over myself". Crazy days; to think that Davis actually drank beer – or tried to, anyway.

Ah, the drink. Here was a man – Higgins, not Davis – who was friends with the likes of Ollie Reed and Keith Moon, and wanted a bigger funeral in his native Belfast than George Best's. Getting off his head on "orange juice" in a televised match – with a fag on the go, naturally – reminds us of the halcyon days when even a twitch of Cliff Thorburn's moustache was an event.

When Higgins beat Ray Reardon in the 1982 World Championship final with a total clearance in the final frame, Reardon never got out of his chair. He looked for all the world like Dracula waiting for the sun to go down. Sadly, the sun has set on too many of these characters who made the game as popular as any televised sport in the 1980s.

Higgins' breakneck (at times literally) style influenced the likes of Jimmy White and Ronnie O'Sullivan. But his lasting legacy may prove to be the practice of sportsmen bringing on their babies, as he did while weeping helplessly after beating Reardon. That opened the floodgates for any Tom, Dick or A N Other Chelsea player to bring a child – by one mother or another – to a presentation ceremony. From trophy wives to trophy kids, sport's cup now runneth over. But there's a lot less vodka in it these days.

* Either the crowds at England matches have dwindled to two fat, bald men and a rottweiler or there was something wrong with the sound for the Bulgaria game (ITV1, Friday). All you could hear in the first half was Fabio Capello barking orders. It was depressing to note that his command of English, let alone his tactical nous, still only extends to shouting the word "Rooney" over and over again. Then in the second half there was the rumble of some large aircraft. Presumably it was the blimp above Wembley, vying with Andy Townsend for the prize of who's got the most hot air.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager (EMEA) - City, London

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine