John Williams (snooker referee)
Williams was born in Wrexham, Denbighshire, Wales. He was well-educated and passed his 11-Plus at the age of nine; and when he left school, he had obtained seven O-levels. He got a job in the local steel works, and passed up the opportunity of becoming a professional footballer, declining an invitation to join Bolton Wanderers as an amateur because he worked on Saturday mornings.
After nearly 20 years in the steel industry, he left to join the civil service as an executive officer in the Department of Employment. While at the civil service, he displayed his all-round sporting versatility by turning out regularly for the Wrexham civil service cricket team.
Williams started refereeing snooker matches during the mid 1960s, leaving the civil service in 1981 to become a full-time referee.
Williams was at the centre of many unusual incidents during his time as a professional refereeing career. He officiated in the 1973 World Snooker Championship quarter-final match between Fred Davis and Alex Higgins at the Manchester Exhibition Hall when rain stopped play. There was no TV coverage, but Granada TV cameras got an interest in this unusual event, bringing fame to Williams himself.
As the popularity of snooker on television grew during the 1980s, Williams became a household name along fellow top referees Len Ganley, John Street and Alan Chamberlain. After Sydney Lee's retirement in 1981, he became the referee in Pot Black. He remained in the role for the remainder of the series and its revivals during the 1990s.
Williams refereed nine World Snooker Championship finals at the Crucible Theatre between 1977 and 2002, including the famous 1985 final between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor, which Taylor won on the final black in the deciding frame. He was also the referee during Cliff Thorburn's maximum break against Terry Griffiths. He retired from refereeing after the 2002 World Championship final, in which Peter Ebdon beat Stephen Hendry in another final-frame decider.
There have been three final-frame deciders at the world championships, and Williams has refereed them all.
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