Friday, 13 April 2012

Crucible Countdown: Who's in charge?

Walking out at the Crucible isn't just a proud experience for the players; it's a huge honour for the referees as well.

No-one knows this better than my resident columnist Paul Collier. He's making his return to the World Championship after a seven-year absence, and is one of the eight officials taking charge in Sheffield this year.

He gives us a full round-up of the referees you'll see at the Crucible this year...

Paul Collier

I've not been a referee at the Crucible since 2005 and I'm delighted to be back. When I started refereeing for World Snooker again, this was the one I had missed most. There's such a large number of high quality referees in the game that I didn't know if I'd get the chance again but I'm excited I have. I've been at the qualifiers this week and I took a wander up to the Crucible to take some pictures and I'm really excited. It's the place to be and doing the 2004 final here was the highlight of my career.

Michaela Tabb

Michaela is returning and doing her second final at the Crucible this year. I think she's great for the game. She's refereed the finals in Australia and Brazil this season and it really sells the game. She looks great, is popular with the crowds and is very capable. She ticks all the boxes. People don't realise she's only on a reduced contract with World Snooker for 70 days of work per year. She's a big family woman but deserves to keep coming back because she's so good.

Jan Verhaas

Jan referees to a very high level. He's well-rated and one of the best. Jan is also one of the assessors for the referees on the circuit and does an excellent job because he's so approachable. You always see him helping and offering advice to up-and-coming referees.

Eirian Williams

Eirian is a fellow Welshman and I get on with him great. He's a very experienced and respected referee. He qualified as a referee one year before me and has achieved a lot in the game. We were on the same shifts as each other in Galway for the PTC Grand Finals. We spent a lot of time together and I know he's still as excited about the Crucible as he's ever been.

Olivier Marteel

I don't see a great deal of Olivier because he has another full-time job working in a hospital as a radiographer. He mixes the two well and deserves to be where he is in snooker. He is very involved with the amateur game in Europe and is definitely one of the best referees from that part of the world.

Brendan Moore

I get on better with Brendan than any other referee. We shared a room together at the Championship League at Crondon Park this season and get on well. A few people have seen us being sarcastic to each other on Facebook and think we don't get on but we always play along. He lives in Sheffield so this is a great tournament for him.

Leo Scullion

Leo has done quite a few different jobs down the years. He's a former policeman, has driven taxis and still has quite a busy schedule. He's been around a long time but this will be only his third season at Crucible. He's another of the many excellent referees in Sheffield this season.

Zhu Ying

Known as 'Ivy'. It's her debut at the Crucible this season and that's a massive deal for anyone. She's one of the best referees from China and has done a great job at the qualifiers and in the PTCs this season. She's put a lot of hard work into learning English  and improving her refereeing. I hope she does well like she did at the Masters and the Welsh Open.

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