Brendan Moore left snookered but still has sights on Crucible final hat-trick

Sheffield snooker referee Brendan Moore should be walking out at the Crucible Theatre this morning as the Betfred World Championship cues off in his home city.

On top of the world: Referee Brendan Moore shares a joke with Mark Williams at the 2018 final.

Instead, the 48-year-old – who has twice taken charge of a Crucible final – will be out walking his family dog, as part of his daily routine since sport went into a global lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Snooker’s showpiece 17-day tournament at the Crucible is one of UK sport’s heavyweight events, but, with a rescheduled July 25 date pencilled in, it has left snooker players and officials in limbo.

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Moore would normally have spent the last month jetting around the globe, including China, officiating and admits he is desperate to return to work.

Well done: Barry Hawkins is congratulated by referee Brendan Moore after making a maximum 147 at the York Barbican.

“Once a day I go out and take my dog (a Shih Tzu called Bobby) for a walk, once a week I go shopping for my parents, and that’s it,” Moore told The Yorkshire Post.

“I am spending most of my time playing on Football Manager and playing on the Playstation.

“It’s very quiet. I didn’t realise how much I would miss it (snooker). I am in the minority, that I just want to go back to work.

“It’s not just that I want everything to be okay, the lockdown to be over and things back to normal, but I want to go back to work.

In position: Neil Robertson and referee Brendan Moore look at the TV monitor to check ball placement at the UK Championship last year.

“I love my job, I love travel. After weeks at home, and it is enforced so you can’t go out, play golf or whatever, I have had enough. I want to go back to work.

“I miss the travel, I miss my colleagues and mates, and I miss the job. I can’t wait to go back.”

Moore is unlikely to officiate in this year’s rescheduled finals, having reffed the climax in 2018.

But having completed a hat-trick of Masters finals in January, Moore – the former Sheffield bus driver who qualified as a referee in 2002 – is hoping to get the chance of claiming a Crucible triple.

“Sooner rather than later I hope,” Moore replied, when asked about his Crucible hat-trick ambitions. “I don’t know, to be honest. I am 48 now, there are a lot of newer, younger up-and-coming referees now coming through who will be ready for a final at the Crucible.

“I don’t even know if I will get a third. I would like to, because in January I completed the hat-trick of Masters. So for symmetry, I would like to do one more World, one more UK, and that would be three of each, a nice round number.

“But I have already done two more than I ever thought I would, so if I don’t do a third, I am still over the moon with what I have achieved.”

Both the 2014 and 2018 finals hold special memories for grandfather-of-two Moore.

He was in charge for the 2018 climax, which saw Mark Williams edge out John Higgins 18-16 in a Crucible classic.

But four years earlier, Moore officiated in his first Crucible final when Mark Selby beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 18-14.

“My best match at the Crucible is probably the Williams-Higgins final,” recalled Moore.

“People ask which was the best final, but they are great for different reasons.

“The 2014 final between Ronnie and Selby was great because it was my first one.

“The Williams-Higgins final was memorable, the comeback from Higgins on the Monday night, they were two of the ‘class of 92’ players, the atmosphere, everything about it. I would say that’s the best game I have been involved in at the Crucible.”

Snooker chiefs are in talks with the BBC about moving the World Championship to start on July 25.

There is a gap in the TV schedules after the Tokyo Olympics was postponed, and the Crucible is understood to be available for that summer slot.

Moore is adamant the Crucible should stage the rescheduled finals, and preferably not behind closed doors.

“A lot of our tournaments are Monday to Sunday,” he said. “This is a 17-day event, then you need the venue for at least a week to set it up, so you are talking three weeks.

“It has to go ahead, we all want that, but for 99 per cent of people, it has to be at the Crucible.

“I have seen talk on social media about moving it for one year, so at least it gets played.

“But, personally, no. It would not be the same if it isn’t played in Sheffield.

“It’s surreal without a crowd. But it has to be played, so it’s better with no fans than no World Championship.”

The logistics involved in getting players from around the globe, including a large contingent from China, together to compete in qualifying rounds also has to be overcome with travel restrictions currently in place.

“We are still in discussions with the BBC and other partners,” said a World Snooker Tour spokesman. “We are still hoping it will go ahead, and looking at other scenarios.

“We hope to confirm dates as soon as possible.

“It’s uncharted territory for everybody, other sports are in a similar boat, but we are determined to make it go ahead.”