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
Sport
premier leagueLive: All the latest news and scores from today's matches
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
News
politics
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
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

Head of Business Development and Analytics - TV

competitive benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Outstanding analytic expertise is req...

Head of ad sales international - Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...

Business Development Manager Content/Subscriptions

£50k + commission: Savvy Media Ltd: Great opportunity to work for a team that ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker