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Romford Snooker Club still going strong after more than 80 years

PUBLISHED: 12:00 24 December 2016

The Romford Snooker Club.

The Romford Snooker Club.

Archant

Down one of the many side streets of Romford’s busy town centre stands something of a hidden gem in the world of sport.

The Romford Snooker Club. Owner Richard Willis on the right with Tony Ibrahim, John Williams and Andy QuaifeThe Romford Snooker Club. Owner Richard Willis on the right with Tony Ibrahim, John Williams and Andy Quaife

It’s Friday afternoon and Romford Snooker Club is packed out with people of all ages on tables that have played host to some of the best players in the sport.

It’s a place where thousands have visited to play millions of frames of snooker and billiards, dating back to the 1920s.

Being a Romford boy himself, owner Richard Willis remains as proud as he did when he first purchased the historic club back in 1989.

“I have always been very proud to say I come from Romford,” Richard said.

The Romford Snooker Club. Owner Richard WillisThe Romford Snooker Club. Owner Richard Willis

“Being the owner of Romford Snooker Club, I feel I can justly say that given the history, it is probably the most famous snooker club in the world.

“I consider I am lucky to be a small part of the history of the game of snooker.”

The game took off in the 1980s, prompting Richard to complete his purchase.

Snooker managed to capture the public’s imagination with 18m viewers drawn to their television screens in 1985 to watch the world final.

The Romford Snooker Club.The Romford Snooker Club.

“The game was so popular because it had some big characters playing,” the owner said.

“BBC and Barry Hearn did a great job of promoting it and people would tune in to see players like Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor play.”

The club has been hailed as playing a pivotal role in bringing the sport to prominence during the 1980s, with six-time World Champion Steve Davis training there.

The former player would make a two-hour journey to the club three times a week to hone his skills and has referred to the club as his “spiritual home”.

As Steve’s star rose, so did the profile of Romford Snooker Club, and it became one of the most famous clubs in the country during the time.

In its heyday, the club also welcomed camera crews in to film parts of the video for the all-time classic Snooker Loopy.

While the club has faced challenges with the introduction of the smoking ban and a drop in the amount of people playing and watching snooker, the club still manages to attract a steady flow of members through its doors.

Richard said: “Snooker is and always will be a great social game.

“People of all ages still come in, from teenagers after school to pensioners first thing in the day; it’s a sport that encompasses everyone.”


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