Jimmy White, 25 times on from the last of his six snooker nature final overcomes, tells Donald McRae about some interesting darkness out with Alex Higgins
“I‘m flying,” Jimmy White says with that cheeky old smiling. He pats his waistcoat, loosens his secure and ogles ready to celebrate his 39 years as health professionals snooker musician and the even more breathtaking detail he is still here one early morning in Sheffield. After overcoming cancer, fissure, a gambling garb that expensed him over a million pounds and the heartache of losing six macrocosm championship finals, the Whirlwind is ready to show off his much younger girlfriend and his renewed determination to keep playing.
As ever with White, a residue of injure lingers. Just before his 57 th birthday he had hoped to return to the Crucible in the world championship, which began on Saturday. After acquiring his first qualifying accord, White faced the nations of the world No 19, Ali Carter. White zipped into a brief lead before his dream died with a 10 -4 demolish.
“I’m disappointed,” White says, his smile crinkling into a wince.” I didn’t cause and that’s sickening. It’s frustrating because, at my age, I’m not expected to win. But I trained well, constituting 147 s in practice, and I’m 3-1 up. I’m in control and then little corrects creep in. Perhaps I put too much influence on myself, because I’d been performing really hard for three months. I might have burnt myself out .”
White lost nine of the next 10 frames.” He got his confidence back ,” he says of Carter.” This competition is exceedingly mental and I lost focus. So if I have to go to Q School to get back on tour I will. But if they give me another wildcard to stay on tour I’ll practise five hours a day so I’m ready .”
If I am stupefied that White, such a gifted actor in his primary, wants to keep grinding away, the Whirlwind seems blown away to have lived this long. When we remember Alex Higgins, his fellow snooker genius and reprobate who died in 2010, White suggests that “losing ones” epic semi-final at the worlds might have saved him.
” I would’ve died if I’d beaten Higgins and won the world championship in 1982 because I’d only found cocaine and I liked to drink ,” he says.” I always liked cocaine- whether drunk or sober. It was no one’s blame but my own. I’d just become famous, because we only had four canals in their own homes epoches and, instead of queuing round the blockage to get into a West End nightclub, I was going the medicine. I had such fun, even though I can’t remember much .”