Tributes paid to top snooker referee

Sportsman: Snooker final John Newton
Sportsman: Snooker final John Newton
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He refereed some of the biggest games in snooker, was a familiar face on the circuit and was well respected throughout the sport.

Today tributes have been paid to top snooker referee John Newton, who has died at the age of 75 following a battle with cancer.

John, who was due to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife, Dorothy, 70, in two weeks time, died on Saturday.

Father-of-one John, who officiated the World Professional Championship at the Crucible in 2000, was today described as much respected and well liked by family, friends and snooker professionals.

Snooker star Ian McCulloch, from Walton-le-Dale, described John as “a really nice genuine bloke.”

He added: “He did a lot for me when I was 16, 17, 18 trying to turn pro when a lot of people said I was wasting my time. John supported me a lot, he always went out of his way to give advice.

“He will be very sadly missed.”

John spent much of his life as an engineer for Baxi Boilers but was actively involved in many sports including football, cricket, bowls and snooker.

He began refereeing in local snooker leagues back in the 1970s and moved into the professional game after taking early retirement from Baxi in 1990.

He went on to take charge of thousands of frames all over the world.

He once said one of his proudest moments was refereeing the Grand Prix at Preston in 1998.

But the highlight of his career came in 2000 when he refereed the World Professional Championships at the Crucible, Sheffield between Mark Williams and Matthews Stevens.

And in recent years John was the chairman of the Preston and District Snooker League.

His wife Dorothy, 70, said: “He got on with everybody. He was a lovely husband.”

Son Stephen, 48, added: “He was straight down the middle. He was firm but was always fair with it.

“He played by the rules. In work, in life, in everything he did. He didn’t suffer fools. He played to win and he generally did.

“Every snooker club throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, every snooker club knew who he was.”

George Jackson a friend of many years added: “He was absolutely great. Nobody had a bad word to say about him.”

In a statement Preston and District Snooker League said: “His crowning achievement was refereeing the World Professional Championships at the Crucible, Sheffield, in 2000 between Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens.

“On this sad occasion our thoughts go out to John’s widow Dorothy, and his son Stephen.”

John was a keen sportsmen all his life. He played football in Walton-le-Dale until the mid 70s. He was also captain of Penwortham Cricket Club and later played for Dutton Forshaw Cricket Club.

John’s funeral will be at 9.10am next Monday, October 22, at Brownedge St Mary’s Catholic Church, Brownedge Road, Bamber Bridge.