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The top seven Alex Higgins snooker controversies

'Hurricane' Higgins - Snooker's most famous bad boy (credit: Getty Images)

Alex Higgins is without doubt the most explosive character in snooker history, and as the World Championship draws nearer, we pick out his seven craziest moments.

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A two-time World Champion, Higgins became a household name during snooker's boom in the 1980s, but it wasn't just his exploits on the table for which he became known. 

Higgins drank alcohol and smoked during tournaments, as did many of his contemporaries. A volatile personality got him into frequent fights and arguments, both on and off the snooker table. 

His enigmatic personality, coupled with his unrivalled natural ability among the balls made him a fascinating entertainer, one which the game may never seen the like of again.

The people's champion sadly passed away in 2010 at the age of 61. First diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998, he died of the illness in his Belfast home 12 years later but left an irreplaceable legacy on the sport.

Here are his top seven mad moments...

1. Preston punch-up (1986)

Higgins was suspended for five tournaments after head-butting Paul Hatherall - the tournament director at the UK Championship in Preston - who had asked him to undergo a drug test.

Fined £12,000 by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, and banned for 10 months in total, he was asked whether he could live without snooker. "Can snooker live without me?" he replied.

2. Drunken slur and attack on official (1990)

After losing his first-round match to Steve James at the Crucible, he punched tournament official Colin Randle in the abdomen, before the start of a press conference at which he announced his retirement.

Bystanders estimated that he had consumed 27 vodkas during the match and slurred his words during the subsequent press conference, in which he said: "You can shove your snooker up your jacksy, no more snooker for Hurricane Higgins."



3. Dennis Taylor death threat (1990)

Higgins was banned that same year for an entire season following a litany of offences, including threatening to have his compatriot and fellow former world champion Dennis Taylor shot.

After representing Northern Ireland with Taylor in a match against Canada, which they lost, Higgins told the Catholic Taylor: "I come from Shankhill and you come from Coalisland, and the next time you are in Northern Ireland I will have you shot."

4. Crucible argument with the referee and a spectator (1994)

After being beaten by Ken Doherty in the first round at the Crucible, he was fined £5,000 for his comments about referee John Williams, and for smashing a bottle containing a urine sample against the wall.

Higgins became unhappy that the referee was standing in his eye-line and obstructing his movement around the table and made his feelings clear.

An outspoken member of the crowd also became embroiled in a war of words with Higgins and was ejected from his front row seat in a match fuelled by controversy. This would prove Higgins last ever appearance in the sport's show-piece event.



5. Trollied (1997)

Higgins attacked a photographer with a luggage trolley, and was also allegedly stabbed in the arm by a former girlfriend that year.

In between he was admitted to a local hospital with a sprained wrist, and ankle after losing a qualifying match to a youngster; he claimed he had been attacked by a stranger with an iron bar. 

6. Mid-match toilet break (1986)

Paired with his good friend Jimmy White in the World Doubles event, Higgins riled opponents Rex Williams and Graham Miles by wandering off to relieve himself midway through a crucial frame.

With White and Higgins leading 3-1 and the fifth frame having gone to a re-spotted black, Higgins requested a toilet break, which the referee reluctantly permitted, albeit under a strict countdown.



7. Window jump (1989)

Following one of many explosive rows with a partner, Higgins ejected himself from the first floor window of his flat, gashing his head and breaking his ankle. 

Yet a month later, still hobbling, he pulled off the last great victory of his career, defeating Stephen Hendry 9-8 to win the Irish Open at Goffs, County Kildare.


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The top seven Alex Higgins snooker controversies

Alex Higgins is without doubt the most explosive character in snooker history, and as the World Championship draws nearer, we pick out his seven craziest moments.

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