Over the course of the World Championship I’ve challenged one snooker aficionado to highlight the best quirky, outlandish, unusual, laughable and questionable observations of each day.
As if to further enhance his (or her!) alter ego as snooker’s sleeper, this spy has elected to go through the tournament in disguise.
Read below for the latest offering, but who is behind the Free Ball?
By Free Ball
Watching the enthralling opening blows between Stuart Bingham and Judd Trump last night, my eyes occasionally diverted to someone else for all the right reasons. Paul Collier. I find him the most unobtrusive of referees. He glides around the table. His tone for scoring so matter of fact, almost nonchalant. He rarely intrudes in a player’s flow.
For Big Jan, this is impossible with his presence. It was a very sweet moment as he helped Barry Hawkins with his tie and collar in the afternoon’s session. I particularly liked him giving Barry a reassuring tap on each arm as he finished his parental duties. But he is a beast of a man, and with that a distraction. On seeing him at the World qualifiers this year, I worry about his back; he has quite a hunched over appearance even after his operation. But he is without doubt, the most recognised of referees. Ah, Michaela..
I always enjoy Colin Humphries adjudicating. He has a voice that could almost be that of a teddy bear. He has a kind of shuffling manner around the table akin to Peter Williamson. Humphries also has a no-nonsense approach when it comes to crowd disturbance.
Thinking of no-nonsense, I can’t help recalling the last of the old school – Alan Chamberlain. He may look quite cuddly now with his near to hipster beard, but he was a peacock. The list of mistakes and self-importance in matches is long for this man. He infuriated me.
Olivier Marteel will referee this year’s final. He seems a good referee and a nice man. My only gripe with him is that whenever there are balls to replace after a foul, he goes straight to the TV screen. I know it makes perfect sense and probably saves time. Just feels a bit like cheating.