A STOCKSBRIDGE teenager has become the youngest referee in English snooker, after passing his exam aged 16.
Julian Roper, now 17, achieved the feat by gaining his Class 3 EASB license, allowing him to officiate local and district league matches.
“Snooker is the passion in my life so I’m delighted to have got my Class 3 license.” Julian told the Sheffield Telegraph. “I’d love to turn pro now and do it properly for a career.”
An avid fan of the game since early childhood, Julian made the switch from player to referee two years ago after showing a natural talent for officiating.
“I used to watch snooker with my grandad who inspired me to take up the game.” he said,
“But I realised at fourteen years of age that I was never going to make it as a player. So my sister gave me the idea of becoming a referee as another way of getting into the sport.”
Despite only recently gaining his license, Julian has already officiated matches for some of the biggest names in the sport. In May, the youngster presided over a game featuring the 2002 British Open runner-up Ian McCulloch.And the Sheffield native has his sights set on achieving his dream of officiating a World Snooker Championship final.
“I’d love to referee the World Championship final”, Julian said, “It’s something I’d give anything to do.
“My hero is John Williams. He was involved in so many big occasions and did so many finals. I’d love to reach the level that he did.”
However, the youngster is determined to keep his feet on the ground, aiming to prove his ability before applying to become a Class 2 official.
He said: “I’ll cope with the pressure. As the referee your word is the law so they [the players] have got to accept it.
“As long as you know what you’re doing and you’re fully aware of the rules there’s no reason why you should be nervous. I can apply to become a Class 2 referee after 2 years. I’ve just got to keep working, reach that next step and take it from there.”