The obituary writers had plenty of time to prepare: Alex Higgins, who has died aged just 61, had been suffering with throat cancer for the past decade. Many of the tributes have told of his two world snooker championships, his temper, and his battle with the drink and the smokes, but that misses the real tragedy.
When Higgins first became a household name back in the early 70s, snooker had yet to become a big money sport. Players wouldn’t be flown or even chauffeured between tournaments: Higgins would often be seen waiting for the next train, having paid his own fare.
Sure, he made millions later on, but it was small beer compared to those who came later. And there was no restraint there when he blew it all on a variety of addictive substances and pastimes.
Not much of a reward for someone who put his particular sport on the map.