Back to where it all started for Paul
This week’s BetVictor Welsh Open really does mark a return to where it all started for globetrotting snooker referee Paul Collier - he was actually born in the Manor House Hotel when it used to be a maternity hospital.
The Manor House is the hotel base for many of the world’s leading players and officials during the tournament but Paul was among the last of the 60,000 babies born there in 1970.
Still living locally in Newport’s Caerleon Road, the experienced referee who now has an additional role as a tournament director for World Snooker is a regular visitor to Celtic Manor’s bars and restaurants, and is delighted to be back at his birthplace for work.
“The wife and I often walk up here in the summer and I used to be a member at the Golf Club until all my travels with snooker left me no time to play,” he said.
“My sister Alison was a waitress here for a while and we love coming back for family celebrations – when my work allows. I remember being in talks to hold a snooker event here back when the Resort Hotel was built so it is brilliant to finally bring my colleagues here for a World Snooker event.”
This week is a welcome change of scenery for all of snooker’s professional players and officials who have played their last 11 events – including the German Masters, the Northern Ireland Open and Scottish Open – at the same venue in Milton Keynes, while the COVID-19 pandemic prevents the international travel normally associated with the game.
Paul’s 29 seasons as a professional referee have taken him to such far-flung destinations as China, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Australia. He was the youngest man to referee a World Snooker Championship final at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre in 2004 but now welcomes the variety of being tournament director at many events.
“I love the mixture – I think one set role would be difficult for me now but I’ve been very lucky to travel the world, working in a game I love.”