Jimmy White says he spent ‘hundreds of thousands’ on cocaine
Dubbed The Whirlwind, White described the fallout from his cocaine use during the ’80s as part of the new BBC documentary Two Gods of Snooker. Considered by many to be one of the most talented players to ever take a signal, the 59-year-old has fought his demons as hard as his opponents and his friendship with revered snooker star Alex Higgins – himself involved in his own war on alcohol. and drug addiction – has become a legend. But reflecting on the impact of how his drug use got out of hand, White explained how, after his Masters victory in 1984, cocaine became a big part of his life.
Alongside Canadian player Kirk Stevens, who himself would admit to having a cocaine addiction in his personal life, and Higgins, White “partied all the time,” including at Peter Stringfellow’s club The Hippodrome.
Speaking on the BBC show, which airs tonight, White claimed that the cocaine, which he described as “devil’s dandruff,” was “absolutely everywhere” and that when it “went off the rails … the billiards always pulled me back “.
He said: “The cocaine days were starting to get in two and three days – it was going crazy. I tried smoking it and got completely addicted to it.
“I remember I had £ 35,000 in a cranky account, nobody knew, and I just emptied that crack bank account.
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Jimmy White discussing his life on BBC
He added: “It was a dark time, it was probably the worst three months of my life, it was pretty evil.”
When asked by the BBC how much he had actually spent on cocaine, he replied “hundreds of thousands of pounds”.
White would eventually give up his habit and now lead a much more sedentary life, while continuing to play snooker, and this year reached the final of the Senior World Championship.
Over the course of his career, White gained a reputation as the best player in the sport having never won a World Snooker Championship title, losing in the final six times.
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Jimmy White playing Steve Davis at the world championships
He would lose four times to Stephen Hendry, while succumbing to other rivals Steve Davis and John Parrott.
And during a conversation with The Guardian in 2019, White detailed how a loss to the World Snooker Champion saved his life because if he won, he thought he wouldn’t be here today.
The match White was referring to was his semifinal encounter with Higgins in 1982.
Higgins would beat White and claim his second world title by beating six-time winner Ray Reardon in the final.
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Jimmy White also discussed his friendship with Alex Higgins
But White reflected because he had just “found cocaine and I loved drinking” he “would have died if I had beaten Higgins and won the world championship.”
He added, “I’ve always loved cocaine – whether drunk or sober. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine.
“I had just become famous because we only had four channels in those days and instead of queuing around the block to get into a West End nightclub, I was getting the treatment.
“I had so much fun, even though I don’t remember much.”
Jimmy White in his younger years
Most recently, Hendry dealt White a hard blow by claiming he didn’t feel sorry for the pool player, despite losing a record number of finals.
Speaking in 2020, Hendry – the man with the most snooker titles in the world championship – told Instagram Live that his job “is to win snooker tournaments,” adding: “It doesn’t matter who is in the game. ‘other chair, if it’s Jimmy it’s Jimmy, if it’s Steve [Davis] it’s Steve, whoever it is.
“No, I never felt sorry for Jimmy.
“He made six finals which is an incredible record in itself, but he didn’t convert one.
“He’s probably … he’s the best player who’s ever won the world championship.”
Gods of Snooker airs on BBC Two from 9pm.