Crucible characters day 12: Len Ganley

For every Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, snooker also boasted its bit-part players: the what-might-have-beens and never-minds, who left their own small but indelible mark upon the sport.

For the duration of the postponed World Championships, the PA news agency is turning its focus on the Crucible characters on the table, as well as a handful of household names behind the scenes.

Len Ganley

Immortalised in song by the band ‘Half Man Half Biscuit’, and star of a television advert for Carling Black Label, Len Ganley transcended his role as a referee to become a cult figure in the game.

Ganley’s broad-legged, barrel-chested stance and no-nonsense demeanour became instantly recognisable elements of a popular era in which he officiated in four world finals.

A solid enough player, Ganley was steered towards refereeing in 1979 on the advice of Ray Reardon, who had been impressed by the way he managed the crowd during an exhibition match.

“The Len Ganley Stance” included the lyrics: “Shine your shoes and head for the Crucible, brush the baize and keep the crowd in check. Everybody’s doing the Len Ganley Stance.”

Upon his death in 2011, Ganley, whose role in the television advert had been to crush a cue ball to dust, was remembered by Steve Davis, who said: “Len did a very good job of being a referee and a personality at the same time.”

A former bus driver, milkman and chimney sweep, the Northern Irishman graduated to play a part in some of the Crucible’s seminal moments, including working overtime during Ronnie O’Sullivan’s fastest maximum break against Mick Price in 1997.

Ganley was renowned within the game for contributing an enormous amount to charity, for which he was awarded an MBE in 1994.

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