Remembering Alex Higgins ahead of the battle for the Dennis Taylor Trophy.

Today in Belfast, eight men will do battle for this:

The Dennis Taylor Trophy

The Dennis Taylor Trophy. 

And, yesterday, the Belfast Telegraph has published this good article, interviewed some of the players involved in today’s ROKiT Six Reds championship about Northern Ireland most iconic snooker son, Alex Higgins.

‘I became the Hurricane’s No.1 hate figure. Towards the end of his life I made a point of going to see him and I’m so glad I did’

Legend Stephen Hendry on his relationship with Alex Higgins and relishing playing in Belfast again

By Frank Brownlow

When Stephen Hendry strides to the table at the Waterfront Hall tomorrow in the Senior Six Reds World Championship, he will receive the warmest of Belfast welcomes.

And that’s just what you’d expect for the finest player ever to pick up a snooker cue who won a record seven world titles in his 1990s heyday.

But there was a time when Hendry’s reception here would have been at best lukewarm, given that he had become the bête noire of Belfast’s favourite snooker son, Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, who died in 2010.

Hendry recalls: “I turned pro at 16 and Alex was brilliant with me. He always had time for a word of encouragement. I used to practice with him and that was amazing.

“But as I became more successful and started winning a lot of tournaments things changed between us – I suppose we simply became rivals.

“I seemed to replace Steve Davis as his No.1 hate figure!

“It was sad really because Alex had been my hero when I was growing up.

“But towards the end of his life when he was very ill I made a point of going to see him and I’m so glad that I did because he was brilliant with me and that meant so much.

“Snooker wouldn’t be the success story it is today without Alex Higgins. He helped transform it into a big television hit and that brought in big prize money.”

Hendry was the new star who freshened up the game in the 1990s.

Hendry, like over 20 million others, had watched his television set enthralled as Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis slugged it out in the famous 1985 World Championship final at the Crucible, the Ulsterman winning the ultimate thriller on the very last black well after midnight.

That was the game’s golden era when the likes of Davis, Higgins and Jimmy White – who will also compete at the Waterfront Hall tomorrow – where some of the most famous faces on television.

But then along came Scottish young gun Hendry, taking the game by the scruff of the neck and winning the first of his record seven world titles in 1990 at the tender age of 21, the youngest player to wear the crown.

If Davis was the man of the 1980s, the 90s was Hendry’s decade.

His ice-cool demeanour didn’t always endear him to the public with the likes of Higgins and White – the Hurricane and the Whirlwind – blasting their way to the top of the popularity polls.

But Hendry was the man, inflicting heartbreak after heartbreak upon White in particular, highlighted by four World Championship final successes against the Whirlwind, who was to endure a record six in all.

White is still battling away on the main tour but Hendry hung up his cue in 2012 and currently works as a pundit for both BBC and ITV.

And the Scot admits he can’t wait to get back into action in Belfast tomorrow in a quick-fire eight-player tournament that will be played in one day – with a £20,000 winner-takes-all prize.

Legends Hendry and White will be joined by 1997 World champion Ken Doherty, surprise ’86 champion Joe Johnson, Tony Drago, Jonathan Bagley, Aaron Canavan and Dungannon professional Patrick Wallace.

Four quarter-finals will be played in the afternoon (from 1pm) with the tournament played to a finish tomorrow night (from 7pm).

Hendry says: “I have played at the Waterfront Hall before and it’s a great venue.

“I remember playing Ronnie O’Sullivan there once and the place was packed, the atmosphere was electric.

“It should be a great day. Hopefully there will be a big crowd and I’m sure we will put on a good show for them.

“I haven’t played all that much of the Six Reds format but I know it will be fast and furious. It’s a big prize on offer so I’m sure the competition will be fierce.

“I’m sure that the Belfast public will create a great atmosphere.

“It’s great to be going to a city where the people love their snooker and that’s down to the likes of Alex Higgins, Dennis Taylor and these days Mark Allen,” he adds. “When I won my first ranking tournament, the Grand Prix in 1987, I beat Dennis Taylor in the final so I have great memories of that. Dennis was another top player.”

And with the World Championship starting next month, Hendry feels Antrim cueman Allen – who made his triple crown breakthrough last year by winning the Masters – is among the big hopes.

“Mark Allen has everything,” he says.

“He has a different style than most other players. He is very exciting to watch.

“His cueball control is superb and that enables him to score heavily when he gets in which is what sets the top players apart.

“I’m surprised he hasn’t won the world title already.

“The World Championship is a very different tournament to the rest. The Crucible is a unique venue. Some players don’t like the long matches which demand hours of concentration.

“But Mark certainly has the bottle to do it and he has the game to go with it. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win it at some point.

“This time around I would be looking at Ronnie, Neil Robertson or Judd Trump. If Mark Selby can get his match head on he can challenge for the title.”

Hendry – now 50 – regularly plays in seniors tournaments.

“I enjoy playing in the seniors events, it’s great catching up with the other players again. I also love playing golf,” he says.

“I do miss playing in the big tournaments on the big occasions, playing at the Crucible, but I don’t miss the seven or eight hours per day of practice.

“Punditry work keeps me involved in the game. It’s not as good as playing but it’s the next best thing.

“I do four tournaments for ITV and the three triple crown events on the BBC and I really enjoy it.

“Snooker is all I have known from a young age – I started out on a small table at home – so I will always be involved in the game in some way.”

White, too, cannot wait to get on the baize tomorrow.

“It’s a fantastic format. I am not at the end of my career but I would say I am in the twilight of my career,” the Whirlwind says.

“I am playing okay – my game is in good shape.

“It will be a brilliant tournament and what an incentive – £20,000 for the winner.

“I know I will have to be at my best with the likes of Stephen Hendry and Ken Doherty in the mix.

“I would say that Ken and myself are the sharpest players in the field, simply due to the fact that we still play on the main tour. But the competition will be fierce.

“Six reds on the table, best of seven frames – it will be very intense. It’s a short format that I really enjoy.

“The Waterfront Hall is a brilliant venue, one of the best around.

“Northern Ireland is a real snooker hotbed because of Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor.

“Joe Swail followed them and now you have Mark Allen who is one of the top players in the world. The game is in great nick in Northern Ireland and should be for a long time to come.

“Barry Hearn is doing a brilliant job running snooker. If you are a young, talented snooker player today, you are going to make a lot of money – millions.

“You used to hear players saying there weren’t enough tournaments. Now some of them are saying there are too many. If you don’t like it, take a holiday. No one is forced to play.

“It’s great that people still cheer for me after all these years. People have always liked the way I attack, the way I go for my shots and take risks.

“Ronnie O’Sullivan has a similar style and people love watching him as well.

“I think the seniors tour will be massive in three or four years, just like golf.”

Also competing tomorrow will be the popular Drago from Malta.

Drago, famed for his fast-paced play, reached the World Championship quarter-finals in 1988 and was previously ranked in the world’s top 10.

This will be Drago’s first tournament since spending a month in hospital last year with a heart complaint.

He says: “I’m fit and well and really looking forward to playing in Belfast – the Six Reds format will produce some exciting snooker.”

• FOR tickets telephone the box office on 90334455 or visit

Belfast Telegraph

Tomorrow will be fast and furious! Let’s ROKiT!

The WSS ROKiT Six Reds Championship will be played tomorrow in Belfast.

Here is the draw:


And WPBSA published this preview:

ROKiT 6-Red World Seniors Championship 2019: Tournament Preview

  • 1st March 2019


The third major event of the 2018/19 ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Tour takes place this Sunday with the inaugural ROKiT 6-Red World Seniors Championship.

Held at the beautiful Waterfront Hall in Belfast, this one-day extravaganza features a mixture of legends from the sport and amateur qualifiers who have earned the right to join them on the big stage.

Played across two sessions, the eight-player knockout tournament will adopt the quicker six-red discipline, as opposed to the traditional format of snooker that fans are accustomed to.

Another unique element to proceedings will be the ‘winner-takes-all’ prize pot, with a cool £20,000 going to the last man standing. All matches will be the best-of-seven frames and a thirty-second shot clock will be in operation throughout the day.

Top half of the draw

Fresh from his Seniors Irish Masters victory south of the border in January, Jimmy White is looking for his fourth career title at this level.

The former World and UK Seniors champion has a tough opening assignment, though, against Leeds-based amateur Jonathan Bagley, who emerged from the competitive Newbury qualifier last month. One of the most consistent players on the circuit since its inception a few years ago, Bagley currently sits top of the World Seniors amateur ranking list.

Elsewhere in the top half of the draw ‘King of the Crucible’ Stephen Hendry will be trying to get his seniors career on track after an unsatisfying run of results from the events he has appeared in so far. The Scot’s bid for a maiden triumph begins with Englishman Joe Johnson, the 1986 world champion.

Should White and Hendry both advance, the pair would resume their long-time rivalry in the semi-finals.

Bottom half

Reigning world seniors champion Aaron Canavan heads the bottom half of the draw as he attempts to secure another world title. The Jersey cueman clashes with the ever-popular Tony Drago, who after a health concern last year is back in the limelight and in front of the TV cameras and crowd. Known for speed around the table, the Maltese maestro could well be suited to this shortened format of the sport.

The Republic of Ireland will meet Northern Ireland when tournament favourite Ken Doherty, the current UK Seniors champion, plays former professional and Crucible quarter-finalist Patrick Wallace in the final match of the first round on Sunday afternoon.

Another stalwart of the WSS tour, eight-time national champion Wallace was the Northern Ireland Billiards and Snooker Association (NIBSA) nominated wildcard for the Waterfront.

Watch live

From start to finish, every shot will be covered live in the UK and Ireland by Freesports. Learn more about how you can watch here.

Tonight there will be a gala dinner as usual. Unfortunately I can’t be there this time.

Good luck to all involved!

ROKiT World Seniors Masters 2019 Qualifier in Leeds

The wonderful Northern Snooker Center in Leeds welcomes a qualifying event for the ROKiT World Seniors Masters 2019.


The event will be run from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th March.

The winner of this event receives a place in the World Seniors Sheffield Masters in the Crucible  on the 11th April. The player should be prepared to travel on the 10th and attend the dinner.

The Prize money for this event is as follows: £1000 winner

A prize fund event which is not compulsory, will be run as well.  It will pay:

40% of the pot to the runner-up
20% to losing semi finalist
5% to losing quarter finalists

The format is best of 5with a respot black at 2-2.

Finally the ONLY place to see any of the action is at it is FREE to join up top watch this qualifier.

Here are the draw and format:


And Dean Reinolds is playing! Another blast from the past! Another one who dares to dream!