ot all of us Greystonians are as lucky as little 10-year-old spoilt brat Wayne Hayden above, getting an autograph from the arguably the greatest snooker player Ireland has ever produced.
In fact, strike that. In his prime, Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins might just have been the greatest snooker player in the world, full stop, an iconic figure who played as fast off the table as he did on it.
It was the year after his second World Championship title win in 1982 (having first won it ten years before, in 1972) that Higgins paid a visit to Greystones.
Playing a showcase gig against professional snooker player Paul Watchorn (who now sings with The Dublin Legends), Higgins naturally proved a mighty draw back in March 1983, down in a specially-converted Cabana’s nightclub at The Woodlands Hotel.
The man with the plan was local concert promoter Tommy Hayden (Wayne’s pop, of course), pictured left alongside Higgins and one Frank Mooney.
Higgins, of course, passed away on July 24th, 2010, aged just 61, the high life knocking the former champ particularly low during his latter years. Just like his fellow Northern sports giant George Best.
The man died holding the record for the highest break to win a World Championship, notching up 135 points in the 1982 final against Ray Reardon. Just as importantly, Higgins brought a wild-eyed authenticity to a staid sport, introducing snooker to a wider audience not only through his incredible skill on the table but also his unvarnished lust for life.
Dave Matthews keeps control
As to the result of the match itself, we’d put out the call. And within minutes, those attending the big event were in touch.
This might come as a shock but Higgins won. Who woulda thunk it?
Ciaran Hayden was there with John Sweeney and his late brother, Niall, and much fun was had by all. Especially when Higgins started delivering those trick shots that made him so loved.
In amidst all the tomfoolery, Higgins managed a break of 106 and another of 113. Nice.
Amanda Sweeney was also in touch – her dad, Dave Matthews, was the referee on the night. And, hey, she even provided the pic to prove it.
Man, it would have been such a kick to catch the man in his prime, just down the road from de oul’ bed too…
You can check out more of Greystones’ nightclub shenanigans right about here.