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Crucible Debut An ‘Amazing Moment’ For Referee Ben Williams

Ben Williams said refereeing at the final stages of the Betfred World Championship for the first time was an “amazing moment” after he took charge of Lyu Haotian’s 10-5 victory over Marco Fu.

By Jack Cousin

On making his Crucible debut, Williams said: “I was alright in the morning, but the butterflies hit when I was backstage. The fact that I’m from Yorkshire and Rob Walker mentioning that as I walked out with (Sheffield’s) Brendan Moore meant we both got such a loud applause, it was incredible.”

He continued: “In the first frame and a half I was a little bit edgy. It took time to get used to the arena because it is different here compared to anywhere else. You’re so enclosed, you’ve got a narrow space between you and the wall in the middle. There’s very little space to work with and you find yourself being in the wrong place a lot here, but the players expect it and you just get on with it.”

Williams, who officiated the final of the Riga Masters earlier this season, became a snooker referee after joining his local club. He said: “I thought it might be an idea to learn the rules a bit better and do a bit of local refereeing, so I did my seminar and passed and took it on from there.”

Refereeing at the Crucible, with millions watching around the world, requires a high concentration level. Williams said: “A player has his visit to the table and then when he misses he goes to sit down and gets a bit of rest and an opportunity to refocus. A referee doesn’t get that opportunity. We must stay focused for the entire match.”

The 47-year-old was also the man in the middle when Liang Wenbo made a 147 during the qualifying rounds – then missed the black on 140 two frames later. He added: “I love it, I get such a buzz out of it. It’s just an amazing feeling. I’ve just achieved what I wanted to and that was referee here in the World Championship at the Crucible. Now I’ve got to raise my ambitions to big finals and later stages here.”