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Verhaas – 147s Are Special

Thursday’s maximum break by Ronnie O’Sullivan was the 13th of his career, and four of those were refereed by Jan Verhaas.

By Mark Rawlinson

Some referees go through a whole career without experiencing the feeling of calling out the magical phrase ‘147 and the frame.’ But Dutchman has had his fair share – Thursday’s was his fifth in all.

Only two referees have been wearing the white gloves for more 147 breaks than Verhaas – veteran Pete Williamson and the now retired Alan Chamberlain have both overseen seven.

Even though he has officiated multiple maximums, five time World Championship final referee Verhaas is still overawed when he’s involved in a 147.

“They’re always very special to be part of,” he said. “The moment when you realise they are going for it is when you start to feel like something special is happening.

“I realised Ronnie was going for it when he was on 33 and then when the crowd start to realise he could get it the whole atmosphere changes. It’s usually on 80 or 88 when that happens and that’s when the other table stopped this time. You start to get nervous for him because you don’t want him to miss. You start getting excited but you know you’ve got to keep calm and just carry on doing your job.

“You know the crowd are getting excited too because they start applauding after every pot. I have to try and keep them as quiet as possible because the last thing you want is someone shouting out when they are on the shot.”

The first time Verhaas refereed a maximum came at the 2000 Scottish Masters when O’Sullivan knocked in his fourth 147 against Australian Quinten Hann.

The Dutchman then completed one of his career ambitions as he took charge of a maximum break at the Crucible in a match between O’Sullivan and Marco Fu in the opening round of the 2003 World Championship.

“I think any 147 you referee is special but I always wanted it to happen when I was refereeing a match at the Crucible,” he said. “That happened in 2003 when Ronnie made one against Marco Fu.

“They’re always great to be involved with but when it happens at the World Championship, I don’t think you can beat that.”

His other O’Sullivan maximum was at the 2010 World Open, when the Rocket cleared to the pink but was then reluctant to pot the black because there was no extra prize money. Verhaas said: “Come on Ronnie, do it for the fans,” and O’Sullivan ended up smashing the final black in to send the SECC crowd in Glasgow wild.