Funeral of Sheffield snooker king to take place today
Dozens of mourners are expected to pay their respects at the funeral of Sheffield snooker supremo Mike Watterson later today.
Mr Watterson, who brought the World Snooker Championships to the city’s Crucible Theatre, died earlier this month at the age of 76.
Past and present stars of the snooker world are expected to gather for the funeral which will take place in Mr Watterson’s home town of Chesterfield this afternoon.
A former professional snooker player himself, Mr Watterson was also a former chairman of both Derby County and Chesterfield football clubs during his career.
But he will be remembered as the man who turned Sheffield into the spiritual home of snooker back in 1977 – and the city has hosted the sport’s jewel in the crown ever since.
He is also credited with taking the game out of dingy clubs and presenting to a worldwide audience via extensive television coverage.
Tributes poured in for Mr Watterson following his death on March 8.
World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn and WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “Mike made a huge contribution to the history of our sport.
“Without him, the World Championship may never have been staged at the Crucible, and he played a vital role in the creation of many other tournaments. On behalf of World Snooker and WPBSA we send our condolences to his family at this sad time.”
Known affectionately as Mr Crucible, Mr Watterson is credited for saving snooker – which in 1976 had no venue, no promoter, no sponsors and no organiser – by renting the space and bringing the game to its now-famous stage in the city centre for the 1977 championship a year later.
It was his wife who suggested the theatre as a suitable venue for snooker after seeing a play there – and after renting out the theatre at a cost of £6,600, the Crucible became the home of snooker.
The tournament has brought an estimated £100 million in revenue to Sheffield since 1977.
He also turned his hand to darts, creating the system of sets and legs to create a thrilling climax every 20 minutes or so and make it appeal to the masses, and breathed new life into bowls, too, by hosting the UK Indoor Bowls Championship at the Preston Guild Hall from 1981.
He also enjoyed commentating for Sky at various snooker events and managed players such as Cliff Thorburn and Kirk Stevens.
He played for England as an amateur and had a top competitive break of 140, playing professionally for most of the 1980s – ranking at highest 34th in the world.
The funeral will take place from 3.30pm at Chesterfield Crematorium, Chesterfield Road, Chesterfield with a reception afterwards at Ringwood Hall, Ringwood Road, Chesterfield.