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    World News - Tributes paid to snooker referee

    29 August 2011 Last updated at 04:27 ET Tributes have been paid to the Northern Ireland snooker referee Len Ganley, who has died at the age of 68.

    The former milkman and bus driver became the best-known referee during snooker's boom years in the 1980s.

    Ganley, who suffered from diabetes, died at Craigavon Area Hospital on Sunday after his health deteriorated over recent weeks.

    Former world champion Dennis Taylor said he was one of the game's great characters.

    "It is such very sad news," he said. "We travelled all over the world together and with his lovely Northern Ireland accent he was always very popular with snooker fans."

    Ganley officiated at world finals in 1983, 1987, 1990 and 1993 before retiring from refereeing in 1999.

    During that time, Taylor said, there were occasions when he and Ganley crossed swords.

    "We had a few words on the table but we were great friends throughout my professional career and Len was involved in most of that.

    Charity work "He also did a terrific amount of work for charity - he was one of the good guys.

    "During the world championships anyone that came anywhere near the Crucible Theatre and saw Len had to give him a tenner.

    "He used to raise a lot of money for powered wheelchairs - he was right at the forefront of that."

    Ganley was awarded the MBE for charity work and services to snooker in 1994.

    He officiated at world finals in 1983, 1987, 1990 and 1993 before retiring from refereeing in 1999.

    Six-times world champion Steve Davis, who included the 1983 and 1987 titles among his haul, paid tribute to Ganley.

    Davis said: "Len did a very good job of being a referee and a personality at the same time.

    "A referee is supposed to be unseen and he liked the limelight, but he still managed to do the job properly.

    "He was a great character off the table, but in the arena he was an excellent referee.

    "He knew the game as a player, having made century breaks himself, so when he was in charge of your match it was nice to know how well he understood the game."

    Ganley's funeral will take place on Wednesday morning at St Paul's Church in Lurgan, with the family requesting donations to the Paul Hunter Foundation rather than flowers.





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