Leo Scullion will referee this year’s Betfred World Snooker Championship final for the first time, having successfully battled cancer.
Glasgow’s 60-year-old Scullion has been selected by World Snooker to take charge of the sport’s most important match at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield on May 5 and 6.
The Scot was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014 and forced to take a break from his refereeing career while he underwent treatment, including two cycles of chemotherapy. Thankfully the cancer has now been in remission for nearly five years. Scullion was able to return to the tour in 2016.
Since then, he has been in charge of the final of his home event, the Scottish Open, on two occasions. He was also in the middle for Mark Williams’ 17-15 win over Barry Hawkins in the semi-finals at the Crucible last year.
“There were times when I wondered if I would even get back to refereeing, never mind at this kind of level,” said Scullion. “My wife Joyce and daughter Stephanie also went through a difficult time. They had some fantastic support from the snooker community and I will be eternally grateful for it.
“My health at the moment is very good. I still have go for check-ups. However, all being well at the end of October this year, the doctors will hopefully sign me off and tell me to go away and live the rest of my life.”
For now, Scullion’s focus is on refereeing at this week’s Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno. Following that his attention will turn to Sheffield.
“I think it will be tremendous,” added Scullion, who refereed the UK Championship final in 2012. “It is hard to imagine at the moment. The best I can do is think what it was like having refereed World Championship semi-finals, which are also a one-table situation. This is just the next step. I’ve had good preparation for it having done three semi-finals. I have no doubt the two days will be over in a flash. Leading up to it I’ll be nervous, I know what it will be like, but as soon as we walk down into the arena and the match starts I’ll be fine.”
The Betfred World Championship runs from April 20 to May 6.