John Higgins, the four-time world champion, signs off from the Shanghai Masters with a spectacular meltdown before heading off to get his flight home.

You probably know you’ve arrived as a news outlet when someone ‘bans’ you so Inside Snooker can say it appears to have lost its cherry after an extraordinary outburst from Higgins. It is only disappointing this milestone was reached over such an imagined sleight and not some Watergate-style expose that rocked the establishment.

As previously noted on Inside Snooker Higgins left TV crews and media hanging after losing to Ryan Day, and may face a fine. And he has done this to reporters before overseas after a loss without any comeback. It seems fairly clear where the blame for any sanction would lie on this matter – with the player himself. Let’s be honest, it isn’t the biggest crime in the world, but all players should be treated the same. Most are excellent at fulfilling their media commitments, indeed many go way beyond the call of duty to promote the sport.

However  Higgins, after a day left to his own devices mulling a costly defeat, decided to scream at a member of the media (as it happens, this one) threatening that they “never, ever slag me off again for anything – I’m never going to speak to you again”. This was met with a blank look, we’re good at those here, which seemed only to further enrage Higgins.

We won’t think twice about criticising Higgins or anyone else if they do something wrong but have not knowingly ‘slagged him off’ recently if ever. Noting the above facts was not exactly a stinging personal attack. In fact I’ve heard bigger slaggings on the Alan Titchmarsh Show.

Instead of throwing his weight around in diva-style fashion in front of some bemused hotel guests and a grinning Graeme Dott and Andrew Higginson, believing he is beyond reproach and blaming the media for something that was entirely his fault, Higgins would probably have been better advised to take whatever might be coming on the chin with a bit of humility.

It is scary to think what might have happened if anyone HAD actually slagged him off. Spontaneous combustion springs to mind. And Higgins does of course have a bit of form in this area, refusing to speak to Scottish radio reporter Phil Goodlad over coverage of his tribunal, and slaughtering Joe Johnson over a pretty inoffensive article.

A lot of this goes in the bucket marked ‘all the fun of the fair, and going with the territory’ but some sober reflection may see Higgins realise he did himself no favours on this occasion and probably embarked on a misguided course of action. He should feel a little embarrassed.

However such things are part of the reporter’s life. Word reaches us that a sensitive flower in football TV punditry recently spent up to 45 minutes on the phone haranguing a journalist about an unfavourable review of his efforts – extreme as that sounds at least he HAD been criticised. Not trying to give anyone any ideas, obviously...


Photograph by Monique Limbos