September 3, 2010 by markstani
The Alex Higgins documentary on the BBC on Wednesday night brought back plenty of memories of an era when real sportsmen didn’t half know how to hold a cigarette properly. Embassy must have been delighted: just one look at Higgins twitching out a smoke-plume or Ray Reardon hovering his fag out at shoulder height with the poise of a cormorant pitching its petrol-wings was enough to have schoolkids the nation over counting down the days till they could pop down the shop for a pack of twenty. Forget the so-called Golden Generation, these were heroes of the Nicotine Age; wielding their fag-ends like glow-sticks as they strode proudly out of the fog-filled days when world titles were decided in Working Mens’ Clubs and into a bright new TV era. Higgins, Reardon, Cliff Thorburn, Terry Griffiths: each a living embodiment of the Marlboro Man. They puffed through each frame like steam locomotives, pausing only to swill their mouths with lager. They were sports personalities, right enough: men the current age of healthy automatons couldn’t hold a king-size to.