Would a city hall funeral for Alex Higgins show us up as hypocrites?

There is a lot of talk about a city hall organised funeral for snooker ace Alex Higgins.

George Best was afforded close to a state funeral at Parliament Buildings.

Is there not a danger that as a community we expose ourselves as hypocrites?

Have we not allowed this human being to whom we now want to pay homage die in abject poverty? Who stood with him when he was at his lowest ebb? I didn’t.
Eamonn Mallie

  • lover not a fighter

    It does us good to show clearly to ourselves that we are all hypocrites.

    Give Alex a good send off. He obviously could be a boyo but at times he was pocessed with Genius.

    Now further proof of hypocracy in us humans.

    Which human does not at some time find it extremely hilarious when they break wind but if another were to commit this foul deed in is an act of the greatest revulsion.

    I rest my case !

  • RepublicanStones

    As somebody said on the radio this morning – ‘he has all the friends in the world now he’s dead !’

  • joeCanuck

    He was a hero to many of us when we were young lads, him only a lad himself; I’m a year older.
    I didn’t know he was living in poverty.

  • duffo66

    The man had talent. He was flawed. So what? Aren’t we all. He should have a good send off and his talent should be acknowledged. Haven’t seen anything like that break playing Jimmy White. OK, so he ended up on the rough. Let’s have a bit of humanity and kindness. Send him off properly.

  • For those who knew him it seems he was a difficult person to help. To those of us who admired his talent and skill he was always a hero and a legend, not really human.

    ‘Society’ let him down, should the harm be compounded now? I dont think so. I think he would have loved a good send off and I hope he gets one.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “Would a city hall funeral for Alex Higgins show us up as hypocrites?”

    Would that be anything new?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I used to see him around Sandy Row quite regularly. I think the last time I saw him was about six weeks ago. He was a weak, gaunt, hunched figure, but still recognizable.

    The interview in the Belfast Telegraph today is quite interesting. It’s hard not to feel sorry for him, but as for the idea that he was a victim of society’s failures, it’s hard to see what more society could have done. The operations on his cancer (I read somewhere that there were 47 procedures carried out) were likely all done on the NHS. At the end of the day the man had a bad temper and a vicious personality, and it sounds very like he poisoned every relationship he became involved in.

  • Fearglic

    i often seen him in the Mermaid with a Guinness in one hand and a docket in the other, always well dressed- he never seemed impoverished. tho that was months ago,

  • joeCanuck

    At parties, my Mother-in-law used to say to people “If you have nothing good to say about anyone, come and sit beside me”.
    She’s a good old girl but can’t talk now; she has alzheimers. Will sit and listen though.

  • I don’t think it should be seen as an indicator of hypocrisy Eamonn. There’s an old bit of schoolteacherly cant that urges us to hate the bad things that people do but to love the person. Let’s firstly moderate the extremes of love and hate, but still say ‘he made us cheer, sometimes he made us laugh, but he was also his own worst enemy a lot of the time.’

    It’d be good for people that want to do so to come together to remember the cheers and the laughs. Every interview I’ve read in recent years dwelt upon the other side of the coin.

  • TKmaxx

    I think he died in tragic circumstances and was a first class snooker player but I dont think we should lionise him. There are people who die every day who are worthy of better recognition in their ‘sending off’- if we had the balls to measure what people actually contribute to society. God bless Alex and may he finally find peace.

  • There is more to society than the NHS. He had problems and needed more and different help than he got. It may be that it was too late from the moment he became famous.

  • It is very sad. I don’t think there is anything wrong in the community wanting to celebrate Alex Higgins in the context of his achievements as a snooker player. His battle with throat cancer was long and ravaged him physically and his battle with alcohol was much longer and ravaged him physically and emotionally. Perhaps we would have been more comfortable if he had died in hospital or a hospice surrounded by his family and friends but perhaps Alex made his own decisions to the end.

  • Fearglic

    why should God bless him? where was God when Alex contracted the illness? and what did God do to alleviate the illness? My the good memories of the man live on with those of us still alive..

  • ooh aah

    If George Best can be remembered for his football the hurricane can be remembered for snooker and a city hall funeral would be fitting. A right few years ago I seen him play an exibition match at the waterfront, nowwhere near his best but still the odd flash of brilliance, afterwards at the bar a friend of mine, urged on by his girlfriend asked him for his autograph ” sure, could you lend me twenty pounds” was his reply. my friends said he didn’t have any money. Returning to our table he laughed and showed us what alex had written. (To the jewish bastard that wouldn’t lend me twenty pounds, all the best alex higgins)

  • joeCanuck

    He was a famous son of the city. Yes, give him a good send off. I think many 1000s would attend to give him one last hurrah.

  • sdelaneys

    “They put a wreath upon the dead
    For the dead will wear the cap of any racket,
    The corpse will not put his elbow through the jacket
    Or contradict the words some liar has said.”

    From Kavanagh’s A Wreath For Tom Moore’s statue.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t like to be callous, helping people is good, but I’m not sure exactly what society can do about this stuff. There are people – not many I would add – from Higgins’ background who go on to be multi-millionaires and manage not to lose it and alienate all their friends. At the end of the day there are people who just can’t, or won’t, be helped.

  • Freya

    He deserves a formal public send-off just as much as Bestie did, though the fact that snooker never had the profile of soccer may mean there’s less support publicly and politically for it.

    The other factor is what do his family want? Just because GB’s family wanted such a funeral doesn’t mean AH’s will.

  • mark

    He could be a bit of a ” prick ” but he was our prick. So rest in peace Alex because I doubt there will be much left after you’ve arrived.

  • Frontier Vulpine

    As a non-Belfast person who has spent more than half my life working in Belfast I think he should have as good a send off as he can get.

    I met him quite a few times and had words with him on occasions. He was a curmudgeon , often cantankerous and angry most of the time.

    Fabulous snooker player and truely gifted and in my opinion had many of the typical characteristics of some but not all Belfast people. I won’t spell them out.

    He was very proud and resigned at the end and finished where he began and that was his choice after all the highs and lows.

    One of the things I love about Belfast is that a legend like Alex could walk about freely doing his own thing and not one would have interfered apart from a wee yarn over the horses in Lavery’s…..

  • Framer

    He wasn’t short of money, perhaps of company, but he may not have wanted that, so don’t guilt-trip us.

  • Peter

    Eamonn, i think you are spot on it what you say.
    A lot of people coming out with the comments they are
    after Alex has died are total hypocrites.
    Why dident these people who label him ” legend” / “Best Ever” etc etc help this man when he was on his knees?
    Why did they not donate a few pounds to help him with his
    dental treatment, rather that orgainse a fundraiser for him!!…These people are very very rich, would it have killed them to give a very very tiny amount of there funds to help someone they said was a ” legend” / ” best ever” etc
    Actions speak louder than words my friends.

    However i do feel his final sending off should be the best it can be as he was a flamboyant man and always liked to put
    on a show, so thats how he should be sent off.
    They hypocrites can all sit together and talk about how great he was, pity as they could have been able to still say how great he is if they hand put their hands in their pockets.

  • Oracle

    In the name of good Donald Duck!

    To the spineless and the mindless on this thread craving desperately for some sort of meaning in their unimaginative uninteresting and unalluring lives through corpse worship of parochial heroes of yesteryear I would like you to pause your media driven pseudo grief for just a moment.

    Higgins was an interesting person both at and away from the table, but he wasn’t your friend and you owed him nothing, in fact you owed him less than nothing.

    For the two or three genuine moments at the table you can remember without the aide of Google You-Tube or Mozilla just remember that Higgins received approximately £4 million for these few memories, your own neighbours workmates and friends have provided you with vast quantities of even better memories but I’m sure you’re not busting your balls to have their lives honored in such a way and they didn’t receive £4 million for their efforts.

    You all knew damn well that Higgins was ill and broke and if you didn’t and you’re overwhelmed with fashionable grief let me ease your plight, you obviously didn’t know him or you would have.
    So pack away your internet hankies and try and have a thought or idea of your own instead of following the posters who only wish to demonstrate their abundance of compassion and pity not because they actually possess these attributes in such quantities but they have a burning desire to let the whole world believe they do.

    If people other than family friends or former players attend it is not because they wish to mark the passing of Higgins but a pathetic lust for some sort of perverse street kudos for attending such an event.
    For other local Z list celebs and rapidly aging journalists perhaps this will provide another opportunity for a fleeting cameo in the spotlight for themselves and not because they actually really gave a fuck about Alex Higgins.

  • Hard hat

    Well, in his final years he blended back into his home town and I believe that was precious to him. He tottered about South Belfast as if he was just another one of us. The temptation was always there to shake his hand and pay all the compliments you suggest, but after years in the limelight, I never dared interrupt the normality and freedom from attention that I believe he enjoyed. He had enough with which to cope. As for the hand in the pocket, life deprived him of his health, the last thing he needed was to be deprived of his dignity through charity offers even if well-intended. Perhaps he would have welcomed charity, perhaps it would have been taken as an insult. Failure to offer it was more the product of tact than lack of respect. May he rest in peace, and I trust he will be treated to a send-off befitting a world champion despite some of the begrudgery of some.

  • Hard hat

    ………despite the begrudgery of some (which I was submitting coincidentally just as oracle was posting).

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I never thought I would see Alex Higgins portrayed as a latter day Diana Spencer.
    How on earth could a City Hall funeral show “us” to be hypocrite. What is this “US” in the headline.
    As “I” am part of the “US” then how could any action ……a City Hall funeral……or not a City Hall funeral show me to be a hypocrite.
    Certainly there are scores of other instances where my hypocrisy is limitless……but what on Earth have I got to do with Alex Higgins.

    Like Diana Spencer, Alex Higgins was tabloid fodder. Journalists made money from Higgins. He ended up broke.
    The journalists didnt end up broke.
    Somehow “we” are repsonsible for Higgins death.
    I dont buy it. Sorry. He WASNT the Citys favourite son.
    And I want no part in the guilt trip visited on us……by journalists.
    Are the City fathers to be hounded by journos to show the same kind of sympathy that Mrs Windsor was to show for Diana Queen of Hearts.
    Clearly there are communal “benefits” to a City Hall funeral. Good publicity in a “community united by grief and admiration for flawed genius”…….blah blah blah. Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness in attendance. A verse of Danny Boy.

    Do us a favour.
    The orchestrated Diana funeral was over the top. The lesson was not learned.
    The orchestrated George Best funeral was over the top.

  • joeCanuck

    How dare you denigrate the memory of the greatest royal slut most wonderful mother who ever lived. Even Nanny was very nice to the boys letting them watch mumsie on the TV galivanting around the world with her latest conquest.

  • A N Other

    No, what it would do is show the place up for being the little dysfunctional statelet that it is; somehwere that is best known for an unsinkable ship that sank, and two men of talent, who wasted it all through addiction to drink and drugs. Why doesn’t somebody set up a facebook website to have Belfast International Airport named after Alex, so that those of us with a sense of humour (and minus the Ulster jaundiced eye) can have a good chuckle every time we land there.

    Alex and Georgie, the shop window role models for Ulster’s materialistic (and morally bankrupt) generation.

  • Fearglic

    They are signing the book of condolences at the City Hall there is a large CUE there already!!!

  • Rory Carr

    This matter of how we deal with the remains of Alex Higgins now that he no longer inhabits them prompted me to return to that wise and excellent collection of essays by Thomas Lynch, Irish-American poet and undertaker in the family business, appropiately enough entitled The Undertaking.

    Here issomething he has to say on the matter:

    “….being a dead saint is no more worthwhile than being a dead philodendron or a dead angelfish. Living is the rub, and always has been. Living saints still feel the flames and stigmata of this vale of tears, the ache of chastity and the pangs of conscience. Once dead they let their relics do the legwork, because, as I was trying to tell this priest, the dead don’t care.

    Only the living care.

    And I am sorry to be repeating myself, but this is the central fact of my business – that there is nothing, once you are dead, that can be done to you or for you or with you or about you that will do you any good or any harm; that any damage or decency we do accrues to the living, to whom your death happens, if it really happens to anyone. The living have to live with it. You don’t. Theirs is the grief or gladness your death brings. Theirs is the loss or gain of it. Theirs is the pain and the pleasure of memory, theirs is the invoice for services rendered and theirs is the check in the mail for its payment.

    And there is the truth, abundantly self-evident, that seems, now that I think of it, the one most elusive to the old in-laws, the parish priest, and to perfect strangers who are forever accosting me in barbers’ shops and at cocktail parties and parent-teacher conferences,hell-bent or duty-bound to let me in on what it is they want done with them when they are dead.

    Give it a rest is the thing I say.

    Once you are dead, put your feet up, call it a day, and let the husband or the missus or the kids or a sibling decide whether you are to be buried or burned or blown out of a cannon or left to dry out in a ditch somewhere. It’s not your day to watch it, because the dead don’t care.”

    So as Alex’s death has happened to us the public who have the “pleasure of [his] memory”, as Lynch writes, so let “the invoice for services rendered” be for a great public funeral to celebrate that pleasure. It matters not whether Alex deserves it – he is past all caring – but we the living deserve it – it will be a mark of all that pleasure received, an acknowledgement that in life he gave us joy.

    So, quit talking now, let’s just have it.

  • Lionel Hutz

    I think that alot of the platitudes he has recieved from “friends”, “former colleagues” etc expose them as hypocrites. As Ronnie O’Sullivan was saying, snooker failed Alex.

    From the point of view of the most people here, people just want to celebrate his legacy as a sportsman. Nothing hypocritical in that. They were not friends, msot did not know him.

    I would consider going to belfast to pay my respects. I only ever walked past him once, recognised him (just about) and said hello. Don’t think I would be hypocritical for not spending my weekends with him.

    In saying that, maybe hypocrite is the wrong word. Maybe we are shown as truly inept

  • daisy

    One of the most moving funerals I saw (on tv – I try to avoid funerals unless I really have to go) was that of Joey Dunlop. It was done with dignity, simplicity and affection. The sea of motorbikes on the motorway both going to and from the funeral was a sight to behold.

    No one has a right to hijack this funeral from the family – they should be the only ones who decide how to do it.

  • jon the raver

    It does sit uneasliy with the concious to celebrate a man’s life that so many turned their backs on.

    There is no doubt, however, that Higgins probably spurned any help offered given his notorious reputation to be stubborn.

    Its an interesting question and obviousy very divisive

  • Greenflag

    Indeed and well said .

  • Yer Man

    I’m almost 50. If I were asked to name the most exciting sportsmen I ever saw, people who compelled me to watch and allowed me to experience a range of emotions from great pride to total disappointment. The type of people who entertained and brought sport alive. Then the ‘Hurricane’ would have been top 5! Judge him as a sportsman only. RIP Alex Higgins.

  • Greenflag

    Just wait and see the orchestrated funerals for the Pope , Queenie , Paisley , Gerry Adams etc etc .
    OTT and more but even so they will all be justified and why not . It’s a human response .

    Hurricane at least brought some ‘joy’ and pleasure to many and he was less we forget a ‘world ‘ champion at his sport . There are not many from this island or the neighbouring island who ever achieve that rare point in their sporting lives .

  • circles

    “Let’s have a bit of humanity and kindness.”

    Aye he’ll really love that now he can use it.

  • circles

    “There is no doubt…that probably he spurned any help…”
    Now did he or didn’t he? And if you don’t know then better not mention it.
    Its an interesting issue alright – interesting that nobody wanted to be in smelling distance of him as he was dying and now that he’s stopped that awkward habit he had of breathing we all want to bask in the reflected glory of the dead Hurricane.

  • tavanisos

    i dont think there is any further proof of hypocracy in us humans.

  • Granni Trixie

    A big public funeral would mean that his former wives and other family members would be put under pressure to behave a certain way.
    I feel that sympathy is due his children in particular. They must be very puzzed at this public acclaim.

  • A N Other

    Where were you all, and his great snooker pals, when he needed the 20K for his new teeth??

  • Granni Trixie

    Typo – The word should have been ofcourse, “puzzled”.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Hig deserves better than to be condescended to when he’s dead by a bunch of dreary chancers from Stormont in some fake show of opportunism from the vaccuous city hall. It would be a whole bunch nicer to see a few taigs dander up the other end of Donegal Road behind his hearse with their fellow citizens, as they surely would, paying tribute to a very flawed figure in the only way he’d have much cared about – over a few jars and with the racing on TV, torn up dockets lining the streets. For many of us, the sunshine recollections of Higgins at his all-too-infrequent mightiest stand out all the more in the memory for the times in which they occurred, when Belfast was a dark, dangerous, cold, jobless, callous place. He was an ordinary urban working man’s guy playing an ordinary working guy’s game to a standard – occasionally – that none of us ever have nor will ever do.

    Mourn the lad where he was born and where he died – and among his own. Working Class Belfast.

  • magnet

    ALEX HIGGINS R.I.P. please let this poor mans soul rest in peace. I hope his family dont read some of the downright rude comments about Alex. If you have nothing good to say then say nothing. i was taught to never speak ill of the dead. he was an ace player and even had me watching – im not into snooker – he was an exciting player. So forget his wrongs now. We have all made mistakes so remember people in glasshouses shouldnt throw stones. I extend my Sympathy to his family.

  • Rory Carr

    Where were you all, and his great snooker pals, when he needed the 20K for his new teeth?” A N Other

    What? Was that you I saw at the head of the queue handing out donations? I hardly recognised you.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ‘There is no doubt, however, that Higgins probably spurned any help offered given his notorious reputation to be stubborn.’

    One wintry night in the early 90s I was walking in Derriaghy when I noticed an obviously extremely drunk man apparently playing chicken with the traffic. He seemed to be wanting to cross the road but was unwilling to wait for a break in the traffic and kept lurching out in front of various vehicles.

    Trying to be a good citizen I took his arm and steered him across the road, whereupon I recieved a tirade of abuse and a hearty thump. It was only when he was a few yards away and turned round that I realised I’d just been assaulted by one of the greatest snooker players in the world.

    He’s come to a sad end but contentions that ‘we’ and society somehow failed him really aren’t correct. There are only so many times you can tell the world to fuck off before it eventually does just that.

    Thanks for the sporting entertainment Alex, but rather like George, the rest is Best forgotten.

  • kells

    My brothers used to run into Alec.The one thing they mentioned that he said was that Jimmy White made a point of giving him cash.

  • Why all this angst? Alex Higgins was famous and he was admired by many.

    He had problems. No one could describe him as perfect. Is that important?

    Most people did not know him. I didn’t and I have to say if I had seen him in a public place I would not have spoken to him. Not out of a lack of respect and certainly not out of any sense of indifference, rather I would have left him to his own ‘space’ something everyone is entitled to.

    As far as I know he loved being a world champion, loved being admired for that, so what is wrong with recognising his achievements?

    If his family would prefer a quiet funeral that is a different matter but if not, there is nothing hypocritical in his admirers being able to pay their last respects.

    I understand the funeral is on Monday from the town hall and I hope, so long as his family have no objection, all his fans who can go there, will.

  • Maureen Pearce

    My snooker growing up has always been around Alex and Jimmy and Ronnie if they was’nt playing i didnt want to know.
    None of us are perfect.
    Rest in peace Alex Higgins.

  • lover not a fighter

    Genius does not come a calling all that often.

    Crazy old Alex had some genius at least some of the time

    It would’nt hurt to give the infrequent genius medium an auld sendoff !

  • AlanMaskey

    Just done watching some videos of George Best in particular on youtube. Most of them are his onfield actions, a few are goodish interviews like the one with Denis Law (I then switched to watch Law relegate Utd). Only one of them has him pissed with Terry Wogan. So if youtube rules, we remember Best for his footballing genius, a little for his punditry and hardly at all for his boozing. Higgins will be remembered for his snooker and, importantly, as a warning against smoking.
    Ceertainly, at the end, despite his years of fancy talking, Bestie regretted his boozing. That too is worthv remembering.

  • Alan Maskey

    Higgins sounds like an Irish name. Could Sinn Fein call a cumann after him (and maybe George Best too?) As well as reaching out to Prods, Sinn Fein have made a bundle from the fags and the drink. As regards the bookies, the Provos can point to Kevin Mallon, as well as machine gun Shergar. As regards the snooker, didn’t hey catch the UVF prisoners out by planting a bomb under one in Crumlin Rd prison.

    Such a cumann would be very popular, as it would capture the Provo culture to a tee: male, fags, drink, gambling and snmooker, thne soign of a miss spent youth.

  • Rory Carr

    “,,,a miss spent youth”, Alan?

    Would that be one spent dressing up in ladies clothes? Can it be a Freudian slip (slip being the operative word)?

    Do tell us more.

  • Alexhmufc


  • Alexhmufc


  • Dixie

    Found memories of Alex; he put my interest in watching and playing snooker over the years. The game started to get boring with Alex’s demise. His talent outshone his short comings in personal life.
    R.I.P. Alex

  • Bangkok/Thailand

    I was extremely fortunate to play casual Snooker with (Sandy)
    Alex from the years between his (2) World Championships of 1972 -1982 in and around Manchester, he was a gentleman in my company and had the greatest ability past or present of any Snooker Player !
    I will raise a glass of Dark on Monday as he’s laid to rest


  • jason

    It was fitting he got a good funeral, because he was a unique individual who epitomised Belfast, that put pride in Belfast during his pomp, when most things about the place were negative.

    However, he should have been better looked after when he was alive, by snooker and by the City.

    I also think Dennis Taylor was lying about what he claimed Alex said, because Taylor said Higgins claimed he was from the Shankill Road, when he was really from Donegall Road/Sandy Row.

  • Dixie

    Well said Johnty.

  • Dixie

    Jason, I agree with your first two points. But as far as …”I also think Dennis Taylor was lying do you not think,” do you not think you are splitting hairs on, “because Taylor said Higgins claimed he was from the Shankill Road, when he was really from Donegall Road/Sandy Row.”…….?

  • jason

    Perhaps you are right, I ve no idea what happened on that night and I should not have said Dennis Taylor was lying.

    The quote was marketed as being verbatim from Alex Higgins and there is no way Alex Higgins would have forgotten where he was from, so something must have happened when the story was reported, maybe the journalist added bits to their story.

    Alex Higgins initial defence of threatening to kill his team-mate was itself an exercise in splitting hairs. He said in the documentary, No Angel, if he had a gun he would shoot Dennis Taylor himself, rather than get a murderous acronym to do it for him.

    Probably the less said about the whole episode the better and remember the snooker.