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Byline: Paul Suart

RETIRED Midland snooker pro Graham Miles has revealed how he clashed with world champion player Alex Higgins.

Alex, also known as Hurricane Higgins lost his battle with throat cancer and was found dead at his Belfast flat on Saturday.

The 61-year-old won admirers across the world for his inimitable style and heart-on-sleeve approach to the game.

But Graham, who lives in Walsall, said Alex had a Jekyll and Hyde personality which showed itself through wild mood swings.

Graham, 69, toured the world with Alex, playing in exhibition matches during the 1970s and 1980s.

He said: "Alex had his moments, but mostly he did not give a hoot about anyone else. He came from a very tough background in Belfast where there was a lot of aggravation.

"He could be nice, but if he had a vodka he was the opposite - like a Jekyll and Hyde character."

Graham said they first crossed paths when he watched Alex play in a money match in Manchester in the late 1960s.

"You could tell straight away that Alex was a very good player," said Graham, a two-time Pot Black champion.

"He was very fast around the table but was not a fast player - it was kind of hypnotic."

He said Higgins, who was always seen smoking and boozing during matches, once played in an exhibition match at Hardy Spicer Sports and Social club, in Chester Road,, Erdington.

Many in the world of snooker have attributed the game's rise in popularity to Higgins' game. He was twice world champion and twice runner up. He also won a former World Doubles champion with Jimmy White and won the World Cup three times with the All Ireland team.

Yet Miles, who helps manage Sandwell Snooker Centre in Smethwick, puts snooker's increase acclaim down to developments in TV coverage. "He was definitely a big draw," Miles said.

"But snooker really started to flourish when TV changed from black and white to colour.

"Viewing figures went up astronomically."


Memories: Graham Miles outside the Sandwell Snooker Centre, in Smethwick, with pictures of himself with Alex Higgins.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 29, 2010
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