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John Williams (born 8 June 1937) is a retired Welsh snooker referee. He presided over eleven World Championship finals, including the 1985 final between Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis.[1]

Early lifeEdit

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.

Snooker refereeEdit

Williams started refereeing snooker matches during the mid 1960s, leaving the civil service in 1981 to become a full-time referee.[2]

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 with fellow top referees Len Ganley, John Street and Alan Chamberlain.[3][4] 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,[5] including the famous 1985 final between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor, which Taylor won on the final black in the deciding frame.[1] 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.[6]

There have been three final-frame deciders at the world championships, and Williams has refereed them all.

Williams made a return to snooker refereeing when he officiated matches in the 2011 World Seniors Championship,[7] and returned for the 2012 tournament.


  1. ^ a b Speck, Ivan (15 April 2010). "Dennis Taylor v Steve Davis, 25 years on". Daily Mail. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  2. ^ "Snooker Chat Transcript". BBC Sport. 30 April 2002. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Veteran Referee John Street Dies". 10 January 2009. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  4. ^ Chowdhury, Saj (29 April 2006). "Snooker's star referee". BBC Sport. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  5. ^ Downer, Chris (2012). Crucible Almanac. p. 143.
  6. ^ "Top 10 Crucible finals". Sky Sports. 2010. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  7. ^ "World Seniors Day One". World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Retrieved 22 September 2012.