The Guardian’s Scott Murray attempt to compile a short list of all-time classic sports meltdowns this week, and while Jim Mora and Hal McRae made the top 5 (tapes of Denny Green and Mike Gundy have apparently not reached the United Kingdom), Murray picked a real doozy for the pole position : snooker dynamo Alex Higgins‘ 1990 retirement speech after a first-round exit in the World Championships at the Crucible in Sheffield. Higgins’ oration, reportedly came on the heels of 27 shots of vodka consumed during his defeat to Steve James.
Upon entering the press conference, Higgins crumped his fist into the stomach of WPBSA press officer Colin Randle, who was holding the door open for him. He then sat down and delivered a rambling, only vaguely coherent retirement speech. “Well chaps,” began the rigmarole, “I would like to announce my retirement from professional snooker ¦ I don’t want to be part of a cartel. I don’t want to be part of a game where there are slush funds for everybody¦ If Derek Jameson, for instance, can leave the News of the World and go to Sky TV there has to be a place for me in this life¦ There are an awful lot of people running about this world who put their kids through certain schools, feeder schools, grammar schools, and you get absolute tossers doing jobs for exorbitant money, well, I don’t really want to be part of it¦ You can shove snooker up your jacksie, I’m not playing no more and it’s not sour grapes, nothing, it’s the truth ¦ I wish Cecil Parkinson and Maggie Thatcher would do a probe into snooker, then we would find out the real truth. The Hurricane doesn’t want to be part of this tripe, no disrespect to northern people because I like tripe¦ I’m not going to break the cue because I like the cue, but it is a corrupt game¦ Rock on Tommy¦”