Name: Paul Collier
DOB: 30th July 1970
First Pro Match: 2001
147′s Officiated: 1
Career Highlights: Youngest ever referee to officiate the World Championship final, has refereed the final of the Wembley Masters, 2005 China Open final and 11 consecutive Premier League finals
Born in Newport, Paul developed an interest in snooker from an early age, in part thanks to his parents who owned the Pioneer Club in his hometown. Having initially set his sights on becoming a player however, in 1985 Paul was to pass the Grade C refereeing exam and from there never looked back, representing Wales in the Junior Home Internationals in 1988 before being accepted onto the pro ranks three years later in 1991.
It was at this time that the main tour was opened up to all comers and as well as providing young players such as John Higgins and Mark Williams with an opportunity to shine, it also gave Paul the chance to gain valuable experience as he was called up to officiate the qualifiers at the Norbreck Hotel in Blackpool during the summer of 1992. Working alongside the likes of John Williams, John Street, Len Ganley, Alan Chamberlain, John Smythe, Colin Brinded, Lawrie Annandale and Stuart Bennett, Paul was certainly able to learn from the best.
Paul during the 2010 Premier League in Grimsby
It was also during these qualifiers however that he was offered a job by BBC Timeframe, helping to provide the on-screen graphics for several of the world’s most prestigious sporting events.
A return to refereeing however was always on the cards and in October 2001 he was offered a full-time contract by then Head of Referees Lawrie Annandale at World Snooker, an offer that he duly accepted.
From there Paul’s rise was to be rapid as he was handed the first of 11 ranking event finals at the 2002 Welsh Open, a match won by the late Paul Hunter at the Cardiff International Centre.
The highlight of these finals however surely came at the Crucible in 2004 when he became the youngest ever referee to officiate the World Championship final as Ronnie O’Sullivan defeated Graeme Dott to lift the title for a second time. Paul was also in charge little more than six months later as O’Sullivan saw off another Scot, John Higgins to lift the Masters title at Wembley.
Paul at the Premier League in 2006 alongside Steve Davis
The following year however Paul took the difficult decision to walk away from full-time refereeing, a decision that he has explained on his website:
“The main reason for my leaving was the fact that Snooker was going through a very hard time financially and I found it difficult to justify the amount of time spent on the road and away from my family and friends when the salary was not very good and I barely made a living, especially considering how rare I got home to my family and spending hour after hour, day after day, week after week on Motorways, in Airports or looking for car parks and hotels.”
Paul did however remain involved in snooker, continuing to officiate each round of Matchroom Snooker’s Premier League competition, as well as the spin-off Championship League in recent years.
Main Tour Return
Following the changes at the top of the game in 2010 as Barry Hearn took control of World Snooker, Paul took the decision to return to the WPBSA fold, first donning the gloves again at the 2010 UK Championship in Telford.
Paul has since combined officiating with the role of Tournament Director at some of the PTC events, while in 2012 he made his return to the Crucible Theatre, notably taking charge of the final match of Stephen Hendry’s career, against Stephen Maguire at the quarter-final stages of the World championship.
While Paul has now achieved almost everything in the game, the last remaining major tournament that he is still to officiate the final of is the UK Championship, before he eventually hangs up his gloves.
|PTC Grand Finals||2012|