By Nick Harris
12 December 2010
John Higgins completed a dream return from suspension late on Sunday night by winning the UK Championship final 10-9 after a nail-biting comeback in an epic to-the-wire final in Telford against Mark Williams. Snooker has made far too many headlines for the wrong reasons in 2010 but this was late-night drama of the highest calibre.
It finished at 11.30pm and kicked-off Higgins’ “second career” in earnest. It also propelled him back to world No1.
Higgins was, in turn, 2-6 down, then 3-8 down and 5-9 down, and at one point in the 17th frame, trailing 7-9, Williams was on match ball but missed at 61-0, allowing Higgins back in to snatch that frame for 8-9.
Higgins took the next, but only after a wobbled miss at 63-24. That left Williams needing a snooker to get back in the frame. The Welshman got it. But Higgins prevailed anyway for 9-9.
In the decider Higgins led 66-13 before running out of position and letting Williams back in. Higgins triumphed after a stunning doubled brown.
This was Higgins’ first tournament on British soil since returning from a six-month ban, handed down as a result of the 35-year-old Scot being caught up in a News of the World sting in April in which he pretended to agree to lose frames at future fictional events, and failed to report an approach about fixing.
An independent tribunal verdict in September was unequivocal in finding that had Higgins had never fixed – or intended to fix – matches.
Sunday evening’s final epitomised the sheer nerve and determination of Higgins, who has also had to cope with family turmoil in recent months following his father John Snr’s diagnosis with terminal cancer. Higgins devoted the win to his dad.