Funeral of snooker ref

FAMILY and friends of a former snooker referee who officiated at the first ever Crucible final gathered for his funeral in Chesterfield yesterday.

John Smyth passed away at his home in Chesterfield on Thursday aged 78. He leaves a wife, Val.

The Irish-born former London Underground Tube driver refereed two World Championship finals and was one of the men who officiated at the first ever Crucible Theatre final in 1977.

Fellow referee John Williams, who also took charge in John Spencer's 25-21 victory over Cliff Thorburn that year, said: "He was held in great respect.

"John was a top class referee and as good as they get.

"I have known him for more than 30 years and I was sad to hear the news of his death."

Smyth also stood in the 1982 world final that saw Alex Higgins beat Ray Reardon to lift the trophy.

He continued to referee until the early 1990s and at the time of his death was President of the Professional Referees' Association.

His funeral took place at Brimington Crematorium in Chesterfield.