Tuesday, 30 August 2011

RIP Len Ganley

Snooker referee Len Ganley passed away on Sunday at the age of 68.

His family are urging well-wishers to make a donation to the Paul Hunter foundation - http://www.paulhunterfoundation.org/, rather than sending the customary flowers.

Ganley was the third man at the table during four World Championship finals at the Crucible, in 1983, 1987, 1990 and 1993. He also officiated at the finals of several other major tournaments and in the Ronnie O'Sullivan vs Mick Price match in the first round of the 1997 World Championship, where the Rocket made the fastest 147 break in history before retiring in 1999.

Top players from yesteryear have paid tribute to the man who refereed so many of the matches that shaped their careers.

Dennis Taylor:- "It is such very sad news. We travelled all over the world together and with his lovely Northern Ireland accent he was always very popular with snooker fans. We had a few words on the table but we were great friends throughout my professional career and Len was involved in most of that...he also did a terrific amount of work for charity - he was one of the good guys. During the world championships anyone that came anywhere near the Crucible Theatre and saw Len had to give him a tenner. He used to raise a lot of money for powered wheelchairs - he was right at the forefront of that."

Len was awarded an MBE for 1994 for his charity work which raised millions of pounds for sufferers of muscular dystrophy and spina bifida, as well as service to the game of snooker.

Steve Davis (winner of two of the world finals overseen by Ganley, in 1983 and 1987):- "Len did a very good job of being a referee and a personality at the same time. A referee is supposed to be unseen and he liked the limelight, but he still managed to do the job properly. He was a great character off the table, but in the arena he was an excellent referee. He knew the game as a player, having made century breaks himself, so when he was in charge of your match it was nice to know how well he understood the game."

Jimmy White (tweet):- "Just want to say RIP Len Ganley! He was not only a great referee but a great friend of mine and my family I spoke with him often! Sad loss!"

From chimney sweep, to milkman, bus driver then snooker referee, who was popular and well-known enough in his own right to appear in a Carling Black Label advert during snooker's 1980s heyday - perhaps ironic since Ganley was teetotal himself.

This commercial earned him the predictable nickname 'Ballcrusher', but perhaps the biggest sign that Ganley really became a somebody came when Birkenhead Indie Gods Half Man Half Biscuit made him the subject of their song. 'the Len Ganley Stance'.

I'm sure he'll appreciate the funny side from up above - god bless Len and condolences to his wife and six children. Take care and I'll catch you tomorrow.

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