Why Aren’t More Women Joining Snooker Leagues?

Why Aren’t More Women Joining Snooker Leagues?

A dispute at Wakefield City Working men’s Club in 1978 led to a national campaign for equal membership rights for women.

Sheila Capstick, whose husband was an activist in the NUM, had been a regular snooker player at the club before a ban was instituted on women playing snooker.

Her protest, A Woman’s Right to Cues, developed into a nationwide campaign for equal rights: ERICCA – Equal Rights in Clubs Campaign for Action.

In April 2007, after the resolution had been consistently rejected over years, the Club and Institutes Union accepted equal membership rights for women.

SnookerZone’s Chris Gaynor is a member of a social club in Oxshott, Surrey, UK – The Oxshott Club.

The Club, on its centenary, published a booklet called One Hundred Years of The Oxshott Club – written by Mike Crute.

It has two match tables, a snooker and pool league. Billiards is still played there. We’ll hopefully  be joining the Oxshott League next season after a very positive start playing there with positive feedback.

One Hundred Years of The Oxshott Club by Mike Crute (Book available on becoming a member)…

The book is a very good read for snooker enthusiasts and players of all abilities. The book mentions that in the 1990s at one of the Annual General Meetings full membership for women became accepted. Also, the sign at the Club had to be changed from the Oxshott Men’s Club. to The Oxshott Club.

Progress for equal rights for women has only elevated in the last 20 years or so at some social clubs.

Although women’s football has elevated to prime-time viewing on BBC and ITV in the last couple of seasons, sports such as snooker still have very few women participants despite the number of tournaments going on in the calendar on the World Women’s Snooker Tour and going abroad to events in the US – etc.

The World Women’s Snooker Tour currently has over 170 players from approximately 30 countries

According to the 2021 Census from the Government, women and girls made up 30.4 million (51.0%) of the population of England and Wales, and men and boys made up 29.2 million (49.0%).

But are we seeing real progress? Yes, and no.

There are very few women playing snooker in social clubs – (or what used to be the old Working Men’s Clubs).

In Surrey. there’s very few women in the Leagues. The only woman who was playing last season in the Byfleet League and recorded an 81, was JASMINE BOLSOVER.

There is only a handful of women playing in the Epsom League and one is MARY TALBOT DEEGAN, who did very well on TV in the Snooker Legends 900 last year, as did BOLSOVER, Deegan plays in the Epsom League.

Away from Surrey, many women are playing pool, including the likes of EMMA PARKER, also on the snooker circuit and has been fearless on the Exhibition Circuit.

There is also 55-year-old Tessa Davidson, who last season managed to get to play at The Crucible and managed to win one frame there at the event on the World Seniors Championship.

We tried to contact the Chairman or the President of the Epsom League, but they were unavailable for comment when we called.

However, managed to contact Nick Shean, Epsom League Secretary, to get his opinion on why there aren’t more women in the local leagues, and he told us that he believed there was definitely a golf in standard between the men and women.

He said: “Mary is a good player, but even she struggles at times when competing against some of the men.”

“You only have to watch the Mixed Doubles on the TV to see that there is a golf in standard between the men and women in snooker.”

He added: “Some guys don’t want to turn up to get beat on a snooker table each week, and I’m sure it’s the same for some women.” (of course, sometimes, getting beat is part of the learning process – as well as the winning. Good performance coaches tell you that.)

Shean added: “Our doors are open to anyone. But really, it’s just a case of not a lot of people want to get involved, it’s a shame, really.”

He said he didn’t think that the smaller leagues such as the Oxshott League and the Epsom League would join forces, but that they would stay as they are.

The Oxshott, Byfleet, and Epsom Leagues in snooker have had a rich heritage. Oxshott won four Trinder Billiards Cups, for example.

There are some very good stories on the Oxshott, Byfleet, and Epsom Leagues on the British Newspaper Archive for viewing. The subscription is well worth it.

Shean added:”Most people that come to join us (Epsom League) see it as a night out. They have a couple of beers with their mates and a game of snooker.”

REANNE EVANS is the standard bearer with 12 World Women’s Titles, and strives to promote the game along with the other top women in the game, but why isn’t this filtering down enough into the local leagues?

The simple answer could be…IMAGE.

Ironically, though, at The Oxshott Club, even though it took under one hundred years to allow membership for women, the club now has a woman manager.

The image of social clubs still comes across as very predominantly a place for men to hang out. It might be understandable why some women would be intimidated by this environment and why not enough are picking up a cue and playing snooker in local leagues. What’s your opinion?

There are several leagues in Surrey, including…

  • Byfleet League
  • Oxshott League
  • Epsom League
  • Guildford League
  • And some others…

If you’re interested in joining a snooker or a pool league, then contact your local snooker or social club and ask them if there are teams available to play. It’s open to all. #Sportisforall.

Remember: Failure is feedback. Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions. A quote by Ken Blanchard





Chris Gaynor

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