2024 Opinion…

2024 Opinion…

HAS WOKING SNOOKER CENTRE in Surrey lost its identity?… How can it get it back?

“When I started out as Prime Minister, I wanted to please all the people all the time. By the end I was wondering if I pleased any of the people any of the time.”

That was Tony Blair in 2006 in his resignation speech and it was famous in the Commons. It’s one of the speeches in politics that has stuck in mind all the time, and it applies to any walk of life. You will never please all the people all the time. But you must try to please those who have stood by you and have helped lift you up in times as that’s what real friends and loyal customers in any business try to do. Why is this quote on a snooker website? Well…

It’s because regardless of what you’re doing anywhere in life, you’re never going to please all the people all the time. SnookerZone does not often get involved in politics now, but this is a one-off number.

Woking Snooker Centre in Surrey has lost its identity two fold. On the one hand, it’s trying to cater for a small group of  players both internally and externally that come in and are looking to go all the way or see how far they can go in the game. That’s fine, but when it interferes with the mass fee paying membership. It’s not.

On the other, there is another faction who want to just come in and play regular snooker, maybe compete in the odd tournament, and not get too fussed about whether they win or lose or draw.

The Surrey-based club, which has been going since 1988 has always since SnookerZone writer Chris Gaynor entered the scene in 2015, been a customer-based club that puts the customer before the events.

In our view, the club needs to choose what it wants to become before there is potentially chaos. The Christmas Chaos tournament was fun, as was the cracker but seeing customers go in and then go out again is not because of external events like the EPSB/WPBSA.

As a source said to SnookerZone in a previous post, the English Partnership for Snooker and Billiards (EPSB) do not pay the club a fee to host tournaments.

According to another source, the EPSB host around 10 tournaments per year on average at Woking.

This same source also said they would never become an Academy-style club, because it would not make money. This club has an array of customers at its door in the local area and beyond. It doesn’t necessarily need to rely on the EPSB and tournaments like theirs to get feet in the door.

Cuestars is great but they only host maybe up to five events per year there.

The handicap and scratch tournaments are great. And there are plenty of players around to fill the hall.

However, at present, SnookerZone believes the club is losing its identity and needs to get it back. Is it an academy for a small elite of players, or a general-based customer club that has the odd Cuestars and regular handicap or scratch tournaments at it, or does it bow to the Jason Ferguson philosophy and enter into an elite marking of clubs with events week in and week out that leave regulars at weekends wondering if they will get on a table or not. It is UNACCEPTABLE for those fee paying members who can’t access a table when they want.

Some people are no doubt playing in these tournaments so they are guaranteed to get snooker play at the weekend.

At present, the club is trying to be all things to all people, and it’s not working.

SnookerZone writer Chris Gaynor, who has been a loyal member since 2015, played in the WPBSA Open Series and saw first-hand customers enter the club and then go out the door again because there were no tables. It’s a sign that the club is popular, but, as a source mentioned in a previous article, the EPSB are apparently not paying a fee to the club to host their events, and are therefore expecting everything for free.

We asked a source this question on Sunday. Is it worth the club hosting EPSB/WPBSA events? That’s a decision for the club to make, but if the EPSB is not giving much in return for the club’s hard work at these events, then is it worth it?

This website will always champion the many, not the few. Snooker is for all, and whilst we mentioned this to a source we spoke to, we’re not sure our message was getting across.

Whilst it’s great to have tournaments to play in, it’s not great to see customers walk in and walk out again. The game is struggling at the grassroots as it is, despite the hype, and yes, whilst the 900 was the biggest amateur event in the game since Pot Black, one person and a club is not going to change hearts and minds of a lifetime.

The 900 is a great initiative but more events like these need to be added to ALL clubs regularly, not just once a year, or once every three months.

It’s the choice an owner and their club manager has to make. But if you continue to lose face with regular, loyal paying members who feel dejected and neglected, then you reap the Whirlwind of what you sow.

From our perspective, those working tirelessly behind the scene at Woking – some whom SnookerZone thought were friends, looked tired and beleaguered from trying to please all the people all the time.

The choice is theirs. We know what we would choose. There are academies like those in Sheffield for a small minority of very talented players across the land that can cater to their needs. For the other majority, they just want to go and play snooker with their family or friends, or play the odd tournament when they can, and not lose sleep over winning, losing or drawing…

Some of the bigger snooker clubs are also community-based hubs for people to have a chat with their friends, fellow snooker fans and also make new friends.

We repeat. It’s sacrifice: a well-paying fee-paying crowd, or a small minority who might not make it as far as they think they might anyway, due to the diverse talent everywhere in the land.

We choose enjoyment and fun in sports over the pursuit of trophies any day of the week. The winning is a bonus. And only a small minority win trophies and will go far. The rest should just enjoy what they have and be grateful for where they are.

PS: Congratulations to the winner of the event which was Labeeb Ahmed who beat Ronnie Blake 3 – 1.

PPS: SnookerZone is not affiliated to any political party although votes in elections.




Chris Gaynor

Chris Gaynor is a writer with 10 years' experience writing for the web. He loves snooker, CSI and loves cycling off tiramisu!