IT MAY not be a name recognisable to the public, but if you are in snooker you know Pat Wells – and the chances are she has got you out of a hole at some point.
One of the event management team for World Snooker and a familiar face both at the Crucible in her home city of Sheffield for the World Championship and on tour, Pat has been for many years a professional, calming and cheery presence behind the scenes.
Top players rely on her, whether it is hastily unearthing at the last minute replacements for forgotten items of the obligatory dress code, sorting travel home or sewing on a waistcoat logo patch, and colleagues depend on and appreciate her.
Even Pat’s two children have both also worked at the World Championship, Danielle on the hospitality and Nick - famously a star of the Newport Harlem Shake, the one in the motorcycle helmet - on the merchandising operation.
And Sheffield through and through her brother is Glenn Gregory, singer from one of the city’s most famous bands Heaven 17 – still touring to this day after chart-topping days in the 1980s.
“I am an event manager for World Snooker, so my main job is making sure the tournament runs smoothly and fixing things,” said Pat. “Before taking this role I did work for the old sponsors Embassy at the World Championship organising the promotions side of it.
“A lot of it is all the little things that just need doing, from cloths and water for the players, any hot drinks in the arena or in the dressing rooms, name boards behind their chairs, getting things signed by the players and all the mail to them or the commentators that arrives at the Crucible.
“Then there are all the players’ logos that have to be sewn on their waistcoats, the main sponsor and their own personal ones – and you are always helping players with travel and flights, and sorting out their guests with passes, producing orders of play, doing the press cuttings and trying to keep the media centre tidy!
“Then there are the extra things that come along, and the things you remember afterwards.
“I remember when Graeme Dott became world champion in 2006 he arrived down in Sheffield with just two shirts, because he wasn’t expecting to be here for 17 days – so there was a bit of washing and ironing doing for him.
“This year Ronnie O’Sullivan has forgotten his bow tie a couple of times, so I did go out to Marks & Spencer’s and get him a new one just before one match. He always forgets it! And another match this year he wanted some dental floss just before the start, I found some from somewhere.
“Mark Selby once asked for biscuits, so I always try and leave a few for him in his dressing room for his matches.
“I love my job, we are all one big happy family at the snooker and I enjoy what I do. We never say no – I will always say ‘I’ll find out for you’, or ‘I’ll get it for you’. It is never dull, and always interesting and different every day.
“If there is one bad thing it is the hours, and being asked for tickets all the time during the World Championship.”
O’Sullivan said: “Pat is just a top woman and a beautiful person and every player would tell you the same. She has helped me more times than I can remember, and the bow ties this week were just the most recent example.”
Mike Ganley, tournament director for World Snooker, said: “Pat was involved back in the Embassy sponsorship days as a supervisor for them, taking care of the promotions side and looking after the girls.
“And she has also worked just about everywhere front of house and in the tournament office, selling merchandise and programmes and everything else, now as part of the World Snooker events team as an invaluable member of staff.
“She works incredibly hard and incredibly long hours but always comes to work with a smile on her face, and copes amazingly with the mood swings and tears and tantrums of the rest of us, from the players to everyone working at the event.
“You build up very strong relationships over that time, and it helps you when you know the moods of particularly the players to sort things out and smooth things over.
“And Pat did acquire the slightly unflattering name of ‘The Bag Lady’ for a while, there were so many problems she managed to sort out with things carried around in her handbag.”
There are a number of excellent candidates for this occasional feature to be carried on Inside Snooker in the future – and all play a major part largely unseen in providing the spectacle and finished article we all enjoy watching.