Table games snookered
THERE are fears the tradition of a cold beer over a game of billiards or snooker is under threat as licensed clubs on the Northern Rivers and state-wide increasingly ditch their game tables.
Fans of the sport fear it will die out if the number of tables continue to dry up as clubs come under increasing economic pressure.
In recent years tables had disappeared from Byron Bay, Casino and Grafton and were also under threat in Coffs Harbour, Ballina RSL Billiards and Snooker Club president Shaun Quinlan said.
Locally, Ballina RSL and Lismore Workers' Club were among the few still offering the game.
Mr Quinlan said in some cases they had been replaced by poker machines which can make clubs more money.
He has written to the NSW Billiards and Snooker Association urging them to encourage licensed clubs to retain snooker and billiards facilities.
The sport, which originated among British army officers stationed in India in the 19th Century, was an "every person's game", Mr Quinlan said. "Unlike other sports you don't need any equipment at all. You can walk into any clubs with tables and use their equipment."
He said it was the friendship that was fostered among players that was its greatest asset and the main reason why the sport should not be allowed to die out.
"We do have formal competitions but our main job is companionship."
Ballina RSL Billiards and Snooker Club boasts 48 members, ranging in age from 18 to 90 years, while Lismore Snooker club has about 30 active participants.
Lismore club president Jeff Lawn said it cost $1500 to re-cover a table annually, so the facilities were often the first to go when a club sought to cut expenses.
While admitting the game was hardly an exciting spectacle, Mr Lawn said it was strangely addictive.
"It's the kind of game that gets its hooks into you and it's hard to get out."