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    Final farewells for Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins


    by ODN


    Snooker legend Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins struggled to cope with the fame and fortune thrust upon him at a young age.

    Dean of Belfast, Houston McKelvey addressed a memorial service at St Anne's Church of Ireland Cathedral, on Monday morning to remember the snooker legend.

    "Alex at a very young age encountered two of the greatest temptations possible - fame and fortune. He found it difficult to cope with both. He was not the first to find this difficult and he certainly will not be the last."

    The service followed emotional scenes after a tearful Jimmy White helped carry the coffin of the troubled snooker genius who was found dead in a flat last month after a long battle with cancer and alcohol.

    Following a funeral in the family home in Roden Street in the south of the city, a cortege led by a horse drawn carriage wound its way through the centre of Belfast.

    Hundreds who gathered in the Sandy Row area, where the 61-year-old Higgins had grown up and where he died, applauded as his funeral procession passed.

    Higgins was found in bed at his flat just over a week ago and it is believed he had been dead for several days after a long battle with throat cancer, plus the impact of a life of heavy drinking.

    Taking up the sport at the age of 11, Higgins won the All-Ireland and Northern Ireland amateur championships in 1968. After turning professional he became the youngest World Championship winner at his first attempt, beating John Spencer in 1972. The record was eventually beaten when 21-year-old Stephen Hendry claimed the trophy in 1990. Higgins claimed the title for a second time in 1982.

    A controversial figure, Higgins was banned from five tournaments and fined £12,000 in 1986 when he headbutted UK Championship tournament director Paul Hatherell. In 1990 Higgins was banned for the rest of the season after he punched a tournament director at the World Championship.

    But despite his numerous fights and rows with referees, he continued to play the game regularly and appeared at the Irish Professional Championship in 2005 and 2006.