Alex Crisan - out of passion for snooker (an interview) - part two

13:31:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

If yesterday you got to see the first steps of Romanian snooker referee Alex Crișan, into the world of this colorful cue sport called snooker, today it's time for another chapter.

Living the dream 

After being a constant face on snooker matches all around the world (both in amateur and professional tournaments) and after showing great involvement and passion for the sport, the time came for being on the telly.

The snooker Gods had a very special surprise for Alex, as he was to referee Mark Williams v. Sanderson Lam match from the 2011 Paul Hunter Classic (a tournament that bears the name of Alex's mum all times favourite snooker player).

Alex recalls: "I was sooo nervous! If you take a look at the recording I'm like a robot running around the table. But it was OK in the end, I did a good job, for a first-timer.

"Before that, I refereed my first ever professional snooker match between Alan McManus and Jimmy Robertson, but the televised match was the most demanding one, by far, mainly because of the TV cameras around."

At the 2014 UK Championship
It wasn't until 2013 that Alex got a face-to-face meeting with a major ranking event. It was the mighty UK Championship from York and even if he was part of the grand snooker show only during the early stages of the tournament, he was flabbergasted by the experience.

And because hard work and passion always pay off, at the beginning of this year he got the best spot in the house for watching the Masters of the green baize at work. Alexandra Palace and the crowd welcomed the referee that "comes all the way from Romania" as Rob Walker introduced him.

It was so nice to hear Alex talk about his Masters experience. He practically loved every piece of it!

The beautiful snooker madness continued in Berlin, at the German Masters two weeks after that. This time, the snooker Gods were preparing a very special treat in the quarter-finals (for those who remember all four of them ending on deciders).

Alex was the one in charge for Neil Robertson v. Stephen Maguire match, a match that had the most peculiar end-note, for Maguire needed two snookers to win in the deciding frame and he managed it.

The rest of the world watched those historical moments by following the live-scoring, but Alex was there, in the heat of the action.

"The match started with Robertson who practically stole the opener after a good 62-run by Maguire and ended with him losing the match after Maguire needed 6 penalty points.

"It was such a great match and all the quarter-finals deserved to be televised. I mean, what more can you wish for rather than four matches, all four ending on deciders?!"

The walk of fame also took Alex to the Indian and China qualifying rounds from Barnsley, but also to another great tournament - the Welsh Open from Cardiff, a little town that our referee enjoyed to bits.

Fire away! 

1. If you were able to referee a match that already happen, maybe a very important one in the history of snooker, what would it be and why? 

Alex: "That's a very interesting question and to be quite honest I haven't thought about it. But I guess my answer would be that I want to create my own special/historical moments and I'm sure that with time they will come.

"Especially because nowadays the standard it's so high and with players like, let's say Judd Trump, snooker is turning into a genuine show."

Alex at the 2015 Dafabet Masters
2. What is the biggest quality that a snooker ref should possess? 

Alex: "The biggest quality that a snooker referee should possess is definitely passion. And not just for the job, but also for the sport itself. If you don't enjoy watching snooker, being involved in snooker, maybe even playing, then there's no point in pursuing a career in refereeing.

"Sometimes you have to referee matches that last over six or seven hours, you can't leave the arena, you are on your feet all day, you have to remain focused, it's either too cold or too warm in the arena and so on. And if there's no passion and you don't love what you do, then it's pointless."

3. Which was the toughest moment in your career so far? 

Alex: "I would have to say that the most difficult one was two years ago when I was refereeing for the qualifying stages of the UK Championship - Barry Pinches v. Adam Duffy. And before we knew it, we ended up being the last three men standing at the venue.

"The evening session started around 7pm and we finished the match 6 and 1/2 hours later. However, the real problem wasn't the length of the match, but the fact that around midnight the ventilation system was scheduled to stop and ... the venue was no longer heated.

"For two hours and a half it was so cold in the venue and no-one could do anything about it, because no-one was expecting for the match to carry on for so long. It was a genuine test for me, as well as for the players."

4. What's different when you referee a match that's on the telly? What do you have to do in order to meet the expectations? 
Refereeing the Murphy v. Allen Masters semi-final

Alex: "First of all it's more demanding because there are cameras involved. So you have to position yourself in such a way that you don't disturb the players (they come on first place), you allow the cameramen full access to record the match, but at the same time you don't obstruct the view for the live audience.

"Not to mention that a televised match means you must keep a clear mind and referee in a flawless manner. At this stage, you can't afford to make any mistakes. The entire snooker planet is watching you, even when you're just cleaning the cue ball."

5. Are you nervous before a match? 

Alex: "I still am. Especially when I'm at a new venue that I'm not acquainted with very well. But when I hear the audience applauding a good shot or frame ball, when I feel them buzzing with excitement, I relax instantly and carry on with what I have to do.

"I'm getting more and more used to televised matches, but I still experience a bit of nerves here and there."

Here's for the future! 

It's been one hell of a journey for Alex, but the spot-light didn't make him lose touch with reality. He admits to still have a lot to learn and the fact that everyone knows his name (to quote the song from Cheers) it honours him deeply, but also puts a lot of pressure on him.

A Steve Davis' admirer, Alex aims to continue his snooker journey and go as higher as possible, his biggest dream at the moment being "to reach the Crucible" but also "to referee a major ranking event final".

"I was really pleased to see Marcel Eckardt refereeing the final of the German Masters and also the Welsh Open one. He did a splendid job, top quality reffing, and hopefully, one day not so far away, I might be doing the same."

At the Masters he witnessed a live 147 (by Marco Fu), but he's yet to referee one of his own. "I like to dream big and maybe referee a back-to-back 147, why not?!”, says Alex with a smile.

He is proud to be a Romanian and prove that as long as you put in the work and love for the game, you can succeed. Although the competition is tough and more and more great refs are coming along the way, there's room for everyone under the sun of meritocracy.

I part away with Alex after more than three hours of snooker-chat and he’s off to "play some snooker, because I miss it" he tells me. We shake hands and go in opposite directions.

My mobile informs me that I have 10 new e-mails, 3 unread messages and one missed call, but I don’t care.

I've met not just an international snooker ref, but also a person who’s madly in love with this sport and to quote Steve Davis: “You just can’t buy stuff like that”.

*all photos are courtesy of Monique Limbos