Greg Coniglio was pleased to be awarded with his first opportunity to referee a ranking event semi-final at the Betway UK Championship on Saturday (Josh Robinson writes).
Manchester-based Coniglio donned the white gloves in York for Liang Wenbo’s hard-fought 6-4 victory over Leeds cueman David Grace, which saw the Chinese world number 29 confirm his status as a UK Championship finalist.
The match lasted for 4 hours and 59 minutes but Coniglio still enjoyed the occasion.
“I seem to referee a lot of long matches,” he explained. “I actually hold the record for the longest nine-frame match which is eight hours and five minutes. This one was just under five hours so it wasn’t too bad really! Focus-wise it comes naturally after doing it for so many years. It’s been ten years this week since I first started out. Even in the long matches it’s tough and it’s tiring but you just find a way to keep that focus right up until the end.
“I hope I can make a ranking final next, but I’m not expecting anything. I didn’t expect to get a semi-final here this week. I knew I was going to do a quarter-final but then they told me the night before and said they’d like me to do the semis so it was brilliant.”
Coniglio is a keen snooker player with a top break of 127. He said: “In the past I would have loved to have played in Q School but I’m probably not good enough now. My highest break this season in the league I play in is 77. I tried to turn professional for about eight years in my 20s, but I wasn’t good enough.
“Snooker has been my life. Someone in the club I played at said I should try refereeing, so I gave it a go. I saw players like Alex Higgins and Jimmy White on the TV when I was a kid and thought ‘I want to do that’. I picked up a cue and straight away I knew I could play this game a little bit. I was coached for a year or two and started knocking in big breaks, centuries, but then that didn’t work out so I started to ref.
“The adrenaline rush that you get is definitely the best thing about this job, especially when it’s in a high-quality match like the one between Neil Robertson and John Higgins where there’s century breaks flying in.
“The feeling is amazing because I’m working alongside the top players in the world with the top referees and staff, it’s fantastic. I also refereed a 147 from Dechawat Poomjaeng in a qualifying match in Doncaster a few years ago, which was a great moment.”