Ten minutes with the top ref Eirian Williams

16:43:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

The one and only Eirian Williams
Eirian Williams is an iconic figure for snooker. He’s been in the referring business for 30 years now and he’s still kicking.
I’ve always admire his stature, his serious figure and the way he manages to referee a match. It’s something about his elegant way of saying “foul and a miss” or just a simple “one”.

I remember the days when my interest for snooker wasn’t a huge one, as in present time, so the fact that besides the two snooker players, a referee was also part of the picture didn’t get my attention too much. Still, when Eirian Williams was at the table, he’s always caught my attention. Maybe the fact that he is an ex-policeman has imposed respect even through my TV screen, or many it’s just his charisma and the fact that he represents the transparency and honesty of this sport so well … I don’t know. But what I do know, is that never, not even in my boldest dreams, I though I shall interview him one day.

However, that day has come and I truly feel privileged to say that in the next ten minutes you shall get the chance to know a bit more about Eirian Williams – the man and of course, the referee.

I. The “Let’s get to know Eirian Williams a bit more” section:

Snooker Loopy: First of all, can you please tell me what did you want to be when you were a child?

Eirian Williams: "A Policeman."

SL:. What does Eirian Williams like to do in his free time? What kind of music does he listen to? What kind of films does he enjoy watching? What books does he like to read? Anything you would like to share.

Eirian Williams: "I like to spend time with my family. I like a wide range of music from the 1960’s through to the present time. My favourite artists are Robbie Williams, Take That, Westlife, Snow Patrol, Keane, Travis, Kings of Leon, Stereophonics, Coldplay and Queen. So you see, I’m into my music."

"I like Science Fiction films and factual ones. Although I’ve seen them all, I still enjoy all the James Bond films. I think the best Bond was Sean Connery. I also enjoy films involving Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington. They are great actors. Another of my favourite ones is Zulu. Maybe because it had some great Welsh songs in it."

"I am not a keen book reader. I do like to surf the internet and find new things. When I’m on the snooker circuit, and away from home for such a long time that it’s a great medium to keep in contact with home."

SL:  And since we are on the music chapter: I’ve heard you sing karaoke. Any thoughts on retiring from snooker, start a band and then touring around the world? :-))

Eirian Williams: "I really do enjoy singing Karaoke, especially Robbie Williams songs. The ones I do best are “Something Beautiful” and “Advertising Space”. I also sing a bit of Don McLean too, especially American Pie (the double A side version) but it is so very different to singing for a living and I don’t pretend that I am anywhere near good enough to make a profession out of it. Even if I was I (which I’m not), I’m a bit too old to start now anyway."

SL: Last time I checked your highest break was 49? Has that chanced?

Eirian Williams: "No, it hasn’t changed and is not going to. When I get home, the last thing I want to see is a snooker table."

SL:  Do you have any superstitions? Snooker related or not? Any special way of preparing before a match starts?

Eirian Williams: "I’m not really a superstitious person. I do like to prepare my table at least 30 minutes before my scheduled match start time and double check that I have my ball markers and coin. Also, just before I get out of a lift, I ALWAYS check my zip is done up – don’t ask!!!"

Eirian Williams at the Shoot-Out tournament
SL:  How much of an impact has had on your life the fact that you are a referee?

Eirian Williams: "It’s had a big impact back in my home town of Llanelli because I tend to be recognized a lot more, especially after a high profile match on the BBC, the UK, Masters or World Championships for example. The amount of time that you are away from home gives less of a family life."

II. The “Oh, no! Here we go again with snooker” section:

Snooker Loopy: If you were to relive a match that you refereed in the past, what would that be and why?

Eirian Williams: "I have so many great memories in many matches over the years and there are two which stand out. My first World Final in 2001 between John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan and the Masters Final a few years later between the same players were huge occasions for me. They stand out because of the quality of snooker that both players played and I’d love to do either again."

SL:  If you were to choose a match to referee in the future what would that be and why?

Eirian Williams: "A doubles match with Mark Williams partnering Stephen Hendry and John Higgins partnering Ronnie O’Sullivan. How mouth-watering would that be???"

SL: On a scale from 1-10 how hard is to be a snooker referee?

Eirian Williams: "When you start Refereeing Professionally, it’s definitely a 10 but the more experience you have it gets easier."

SL: You qualified as a referee in 1981 and from 1991 you are involved in professional snooker. How do you see this sport evolving? We always say that the players had so much work going on this last season, but that also means the refs were busier than ever. Has all that work paid off? Is snooker heading towards a bright future?

Eirian Williams: "There is a lot more work but the downside is that it means we’re away from home for longer. Family time is almost non-existent especially as they work steady Monday to Friday jobs and snooker almost always involves weekends. I value my home-time more now than I ever have. There isn’t really a close season any more. I don’t know how the game itself can evolve."

SL: What do you think about the Shoot-Out? Many players think this new competition is spicing snooker up a bit, but what’s your opinion?

Eirian Williams: "I think the Shoot Out was a great success. It brought the public up close and personal and the players were very enthusiastic about it."

III. The “Fire away!” section:

Snooker Loopy: Fast players or slow players?

Eirian Williams: "Everybody likes the fast players as frames are concluded quickly, but there is more to snooker than potting."

SL: Tea or coffee? Hm … or beer?

Eirian Williams: "I don’t drink tea so it’s coffee for me. I do enjoy a beer or three at times too."

SL: Referring a final or a semi-final?

Eirian Williams: "Depends on the event. I remember several years ago, that the importance of semi’s and finals depended on the event. Semi Finals in the World Championships are the best of 33 frames, just two short of the number for the final so it ranked alongside other ranking finals in importance. Ranking finals are either the best of 17 or 19. To do a final is a privilege."

SL: TV or the cubicles?

Eirian Williams: "It’s got to be TV."

SL:  Whitewash or decider?

Eirian Williams: "I don’t like players being whitewashed so give me deciders every time."

On duty at the World Championship
SL: The World Championship or the Masters?

Eirian Williams: "The World, without doubt."

SL: The UK or “Doesn’t really matter as long as good snooker is part of the equation”?

Eirian Williams: "Snooker is a global sport so it’s nice for people from all corners of the earth to see the players close up."

SL: Elegant suits or the Shoot-Out t-shirts?

Eirian Williams: "I’m a traditionalist. Suits please, but there is room for more relaxed outfits, like at the Shoot out."

IV. The “Fill the spaces…” section:

The most important quality of a snooker referee is …

Eirian Williams: ... "to be able to concentrate for long periods of time."

The moment I shall never forget (snooker or personal – your choice) was…

Eirian Williams: ..."when each of my three children were born."

The most embarrassing moment in my snooker career as a referee was…

Eirian Williams: ..."forgetting to say “Free Ball” in a match in the World Open between Bjorn Haneveer and Stephen Hendry. I can’t believe I missed it!"

The proudest moment in my referee career was…

Eirian Williams: ... "each one of the nearly 40 major finals that I’ve done together with the 7 World semi finals".

And the last question: Policeman, snooker ref … what’s next? ;-)

Eirian Williams: "Retirement."