CUEVIEW - Michaela Tabb Exclusive
StBlazeySnooker | On 03, Dec 2012
Michaela Tabb, much loved female snooker referee and jolly nice Scottish lass phoned us today for an exclusive St Blazey Snooker Interview.
To be fair I have been bugging Michaela for months now to do this on twitter and email, she is a very busy lady always jet setting and travelling round the country on trains, not to mention looking after her family. But we finally nailed her down and here is the interview you have all been waiting for – enjoy.
STBS – What is your full name please
MT – Michaela Tabb
STBS – Bio about yourself (in no more than 200 words)
MT – Michaela Tabb was born on 11 December 1967 in Bath, England and moved to Scotland when she was 3years old. She had a successful amateur career playing 8 ball pool prior to beginning her career as a professional referee. Michaela began playing competitively in 1991 at the age of 23. A distinguished amateur career where she played for the Scottish Ladies 8 Ball Pool Team from 1992-2003, Michaela captained them to two consecutive Grand Slams in 1997 and 1998. She also had a successful singles career, winning the UK Women’s Singles title in 1997 and the European Ladies 8 Ball Pool Championships in Gibraltar in 1998.
During the mid 1990s Michaela began refereeing at amateur 8 ball pool tournaments run by herself and her husband Ross McInnes. And it was Ross who encouraged Michaela to pursue refereeing at a professional level. In 1997 after giving birth to her first son Morgan, Michaela made her debut as a professional referee at the Matchroom Sport’s St Andrew’s Cup that was to be held in Glasgow. After Ross suggested Michaela as a referee for the event, Michaela sent a copy of her CV and a photograph of herself to the organisers and she was offered the job.
I did the shanghai masters final as well this year which was unbelievable again John Higgins loosing 7-2 in the first session but making a 147 everyone had written him off but I knew that it could be long evening you should never write John Higgins off, how he does it god knows and the bottle he has unbelievable. “
2001 was to be an important year for Michaela as she received a telephone call from World Snooker asking if she would attend a meeting with a view to joining the snooker circuit as a referee. The following year Michaela made her debut as a snooker referee in a world ranking event when she took charge of the Welsh Open first round match between Ken Doherty and James Wattana. In 1993 she made history by becoming the first ‘Lady Ref’ to officiate at The Crucible during the World Snooker Championships taking charge of Mark King and Drew Henry.
Having established herself as a referee on the snooker circuit Michaela in February 2007 became the first lady to referee the final of a world ranking event when she officiated at the final of the Welsh Open between Neil Robertson and Andrew Higginson. This was followed by refereeing the 2008 finals of the Masters at the Wembley Conference Centre and also the final of the China Open in Beijing.
Having refereed a number of ranking event finals the supreme honour in snooker refereeing was given to Michaela in 2009 when she officiated at the final of the World Championship at The Crucible between John Higgins and Shaun Murphy.
Michaela still continues to referee at Pool and is a regular in The Philippines and Las Vegas, much to her fans delight. Away from the sport Michaela, who rejoices in the soubriquets of “Lady Ref” and “The Queen of Snooker” resides in Dunfermline with her two sons Morgan and Preston and her husband Ross. When not refereeing Michaela enjoys reading, poker, facebook and twitter!
STBS – Have you ever visited any of the clubs in the St Blazey & District Snooker League (Cornwall) before?
MT – I have yes, had a lovely night at the Lostwithiel Conservative club, I have also been to the Club in Falmouth (Bells Court) which i think is shutdown now that was for Paul Williams. I have also been to the Keay Theatre for Snooker plus a couple of times over the years.
STBS – Do you play any snooker or pool?
MT – Maybe once in a while on social occasions I will have a game of pool but never go near a snooker table, I used to play pool for Scotland as you will pick up from in the bio, but nowadays having a family and travelling a lot the last thing I want to do is go out and play. A few of the other refs do play a bit I know Jan Verhas plays a little.
STBS – Have you always wanted to be a snooker/pool referee?
MT – To be honest I just stumbled into it, when I used to play pool for Scotland I met my husband who was a professional pool player, one of the events that he was asked to play in an american 9 pool televised event which was a 1 day event held in scotland, he knew that from playing previously that they didn’t have a referee in Scotland infact they used to have to pay to have someone shipped up from England, he saw an opportunity and put my name forward, so the organisers asked me to submit my CV to them.
I actually made up the CV as I had never refereed 9 ball before, but they loved the CV and I got the job. I then went on the internet and got the rules for 9 ball learned them and went on to referee the matches for them, that was Matchroom and I have worked with them ever since. This all happened in 1997 so I have being doing it for 15 years now.
STBS – How much fun is it to referee Snooker Legends, and are there any players you have never got the chance to meet/referee that you wish you had?
MT – Well for me what’s been amazing about the legends is that i have ticked a lot of boxes for players that I have never managed to ref on the normal snooker circuit. The ones that are really left unturned are the older players, you know the ones that don’t play anymore and the ones that sadly are no longer with us.
I mean I even managed Joe Johnson professionally at one point 🙂 So yeah your Bill Werbeniuk the players I will never have an opportunity to meet or referee, it’s a shame as when I was growing up and watching snooker these were the guys that were on the table at the time. I have been lucky enough to ref Alex Higgins, and I have been lucky enough to ref Ray Reardon as well of course this during legend matches.
STBS – Who is your favourite TV commentator?
MT – Hard choice, I have always loved John Virgo, Im not biased in that respect but he has always talked the right stuff over the years, I have to say now now Neal Foulds is amazing and one of my other favourites has to be Stephen Hendry purely because he was such a great player and he talks about the game from a players perspective all very natural and lovely to listen too.
STBS – Who is your favourite professional player and why?
MT – Can’t really pick as I’m friends with so many of them and it would be unfair to single one out.
STBS -Do you think the players give the referees the respect they deserve?
MT – Actually no I don’t not at all i feel that on the whole that they don’t even appreciate the job that we are doing. You know you can be out there sometimes for hours and hours on your feet and they have got no form of respect for what that is doing to you mentally and physically, to be a good ref you have got to stay with the game and the concentration that you have to put in sometimes in these matches is quite frankly immense. I know that there are some players that really don’t think you need to do much to be a ref, but you know they should go out and try it themselves.
STBS – If you could change one rule in snooker, which one would it be?
MT – At the moment I have a massive problem with the push shot rule as it’s not being enforced correctly at all and it hasn’t for a while, i think whats happened is over a period of time players have been given a little bit more and a little bit more and they have been allowed to hit the ball a bit thicker and now it’s not being called by the refs to the point where in my opinion push shots are being played pretty regularly. So it’s such a grey area now you almost leave it up to the player and you shouldn’t really have to do that. I suppose its just the way this has developed over a period of time but I think this needs addressing.
STBS – Has there ever been a scenario where you didn’t know the rule?
MT – I can’t think of one that jumps out in snooker but there has been in pool, because I hadn’t been taught the rules of 9 ball I as trying to learn them from the internet which wasn’t very easy, I had a situation with the lag where the players ball went in off and I didn’t know the rule, it’s at that moment when you go into freeze and think oh my god what do I do.
STBS – What is the hardest part of refereeing?
MT – Concentration and focus over long period of time, i mean everyone gets tired but as we now it’s difficult to do your job when your tired, like with playing refereeing is a mind thing
STBS – Do you have a favourite venue?
MT – I actually have 2, the first is the crucible theatre in sheffield because it’s so small and intense, you can hear everything in there even people whispering, and the other is the Temperdrome in Berlin, its very similar because it’s round like the crucible and it can fit 2500 people in it as opposed to 1000 like the crucible, the noise and atmosphere that is created is amazing, the german masters is there now and especially with the setup of the tables it’s amazing, everyone can watch all matches that are being played.
STBS – What has been the most memorable snooker match your have refereed or seen?
MT – I’m going to give you a few answers here, one I have refereed and one that I have not and one I have marked as well.
The first in 1982 Alex Higgins world championship win was probably actually the first time I actually cried at a snooker match that is as a viewer of the television. And the other has to be the John Higgins v Ronnie O’Sullivan masters final in 2006 I was the marker in the this match John came back and beat Ronnie in the final frame I think Ronnie was 58 ahead with 59 on the table or 60 ahead with 59 on the table something like that, Ronnie had thought he had won it but John as he always does dug deep and managed to clear up and pinch it including doubling the final red, he wins the title by 1 point in the final frame, i was scoring the match and I just couldn’t breath it was so intense.
I did the shanghai masters final as well this year which was unbelievable again John Higgins loosing 7-2 in the first session but making a 147 everyone had written him off but I knew that it could be long evening you should never write John Higgins off, how he does it god knows and the bottle he has unbelievable. A little thing I do for my pre match preparation is to have a can of red bull (sugar free most times) but on this particular occasion I have taken 2 cans because I just thought you might want another one of them in the interval sure enough it went 7-6, so I downed the second can and went out to see out the match. A phenomenal final 🙂
STBS – Funniest moment for you so far in your career?
MT – Well that wouldn’t be too difficult would it, when I picked up the cue ball when reefing Stephen MGuire and Graham Dott in the World Champs i think everyone’s seen it now and it’s turned out to be a classic moment 🙂 although it wasn’t that funny at the time it happened, anyone that ever comes up to me or knows me always mentions it I suppose it will never go away.
STBS – Do you have any ambitions as a referee you still have not achieved?
MT – None really, to be honest with you no, I have really been lucky in what I have managed to achieve you know I have not done the UK final and there are obviously other finals I haven’t done but i’m not one of those refs you wants or needs to tick all those boxes, I’m delighted with what I have achieved, we have a while legion of female refs coming through now because I have led the way, and you now what I think yeah you have done good girl and i’m really happy with that.
Date of birth: 11th December 1967
Star sign: Sagittarius
Favourite Colour: Yellow
Favourite food: Italian – I’m a pizza and pasta freak!
Favourite drink: Coffee or Rose wine depends on the occasion 😉
Favourite subject at school: Biology
Favourite UK destination: Cornwall everytime
Favourite authors: Peter James, James Patterson and currently Simon Kernick
Favorite movie: Shawshank Redemption (My son is named after Morgan Freeman)
Favourite TV programme: House and usual Strictly, X-Factor and their American versions, we SKY+ them all!
Favourite music: All sorts, too many to mention
Favourite snooker venue: The Crucible for the intimacy and The Tempodrom in Berlin for the noise!
Favourite pool venue: Anywhere in the Philippines and York Hall for the Mosconi Cup
Worst habit: Being late and doing everything at the last minute…
Dislikes: Violence of any kind, especially to kids and animals grrrrrrrrrrr
Tell us two things we don’t know about you: Firstly, I am a games freak – I have been a Super Mario fan for over 20 years and a Zelda fan since its launch. Secondly, I used to work as a successful sales rep for Ann Summers!!!
Images Courtesy of: Action Images
Bio and small facts courtesy of the Michaela Tabb Website: