HeadLine: CLOUDS LIFT OVER TOWN OF TEARS THANKS TO THE MAN THEY CALL
Daily Record, 06/05/1998, p16
by Shaun Milne
Until yesterday Wishaw was best known for the world’s worst E- coli
food poisoning outbreak, which claimed 21 lives.
Even today the Lanarkshire town cannot shake off the image, as a probe
into the outbreak goes on in nearby Motherwell.
Now for the first time in two black years the people of Wishaw have
something to smile about – World Snooker champ John Higgins, 22.
And when the man dubbed Sugar Face was crowned the world’s number one
on Monday night, it was time to party.
Neighbour Theresa Cassidy, 37, said: “I was just hysterical when he
won. The whole street was out celebrating
“There was champagne popping, vodka, whisky, beer, everything. Everyone
was so happy but crying at the same time.
“I’ve lived next to the family for two years but known them almost all
my life. I’m so happy he’s done it. We all had faith in him.
“Despite all the fame, money and success John’s had he’s still the same
guy – just one of the lads really.”
The streets outside John’s home were decked with bunting on the street
lights and buildings, and banners were stuck on every available fence
to welcome the local hero home last night.
And the renewed sense of hope in the town, which has also been battered
by unemployment, was almost palpable as even those who don’t like
snooker revelled in John’s victory.
Jean Russell, 47, who works in the dry cleaners in Wishaw’s Main Street
where John is a customer, said: “Of course I watched it. There wouldn’t
have been a person in the town who didn’t. My husband Jim is a member
of The Masters Snooker Club.
“He told me he could remember the wee boy who used to stand on an
orange box at the club because he wasn’t tall enough to reach the
“John’s face was a picture when he told the cameras that he was going
out to get drunk after he’d won.
“I thought to myself, `God love him’.”
John’s reward was a £229,500 pay cheque, the latest big win which has
allowed him a lavish lifestyle of designer suits, Mercedes cars and new
houses for his family.
Jean added: “He brings his dry-cleaning in here all the time. It’s the
best of stuff with Versace, Armani, all the designer gear and he just
asks `wash them for me will you’.
“But he’s awfully nice. He’s quite quiet really but not in a stuck up
way. His mum is as proud as punch of him. And I’m just so happy for
At the Higgins’ family’s local pub, The Cross Keys, friends were up
most of the night celebrating.
Assistant manager Brian O’Neill said: “They are all well liked and
everybody was rooting for them. There were two or three grown men
crying in here when they realised he had won.”
At the Stag Hotel, former haunt of John Higgins Snr, who manages his
son in the snooker world, regulars were out in force.
One customer said: “He’s put Wishaw on the map for all the right
“God knows, we could do with some good news in this town at last.”
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