After 49 years of loyal service to snooker refereeing, former World Championship final official Alan Chamberlain has finally decided to hang up the white gloves.
By Mark Rawlinson
The 71-year-old elected to retire from refereeing on the World Snooker circuit in April 2010 but has continued to be involved in the Championship League, played every spring at Crondon Park Golf Club in Essex.
However just one year short of a 50-year landmark, he has decided to call it a day once and for all to concentrate on his role on the board at the WPBSA.
Chamberlain, alongside fellow referees Brendan Moore and Paul Collier, formed a regular trio of officials at the Championship League but deterioration in health and his advancing age has persuaded him to sever his commitment with the event.
“I have been continuing to referee at the Championship League at Crondon Park in the few years since that but I decided that this year would be my last,” said Chamberlain. “I’d like to have had one more year and made it 50 but that’s the way it goes.
“I finished refereeing for World Snooker on the main tour after the 2010 World Championship qualifiers, just because I was finding it so tiring.
“I had a triple heart bypass two and a half years ago so it has left me short of breath. I’ve also got a tremor in my left hand which is not good for when you come to spotting balls. I thought in fairness to players I should pack up refereeing for good.”
The Leicester-born official first took his refereeing exam in 1965 and learnt his trade in the amateur ranks for a number of years before stepping up into the professional game in 1983.
He enjoyed a number of magical moments during his 27-year spell on the world tour, including refereeing the 1997 World Championship final between Ken Doherty and Stephen Hendry.
He’s also picked out the balls for seven maximums, a record he shares with fellow experienced referee Pete Williamson, as well as refereeing the only ever 148 break made in professional competition.
“I’ve had 49 good years of refereeing and wouldn’t have changed it for the world,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed travelling all over the world over the years and it’s been great.
“I started refereeing back in the 60s as an amateur and then become professional in the 80s and have had some memorable matches over the years.
“I did the re-spotted black in the Masters with Stephen Hendry and Mark Williams – that will always live in the memory. I did the maximum break of the final of the Charity Challenge between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Hendry and I refereed Jamie Burnett’s 148.
“I think sometimes I’ve been quite lucky with what certain matches have thrown up over the years but you never know what’s going to happen.”
After retiring from regular refereeing on the World Snooker tour in 2010, Chamberlain was invited to join the WPBSA board by chairman Jason Ferguson.
Although he is involved in all areas of the association, his primary role at the world cue sports governing body is heading up the rules committee.
This week he’s been at the Crucible to keep a beady eye on the game’s top officials and giving little points of advice on where they can improve their technique.
“This particular week, I’m nit picking and spotting silly little things in each referee’s performance,” said Chamberlain. “It was decided that I should come along and look over them but of course there were no problems at all as they’re all good referees.
“The guys out there all do a great job and I can tell you it is hard work. The amount of concentration it takes makes it very difficult.
“When I finished refereeing for World Snooker, Jason rang me up and thanked me for my refereeing tenure and said he thought I might be useful on the board and I was voted on at the next AGM.
“While I do get involved in politics, finance, healthcare and the benevolent fund, my main task is to be chair of the rules committee. So generally I look after the interests of the referees although they are employed by World Snooker whilst I’m on the governing body WPBSA.”