By Annette Lord
The World Championship may be over but there’s another spring date creating excitement for thousands of snooker fans across England.
All eyes are now on Monday, May 17, which is penned in as the day the country’s snooker clubs can finally reopen.
Legions of players, club owners and staff are counting the days after being forced to down cues and shut up shop for months at a time since coronavirus first swept the world in March 2020.
Now, with the gradual easing of lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap’ points the way to reopening for good – which was announced officially on Monday by the man himself.
Murray Phillips, owner of Tamworth Sports Bar – practice base for snooker star David Gilbert – can’t wait to reopen the doors. The bar has been closed since November.
“We’re busy sweeping, mopping and dusting. It’s amazing how much there is to do when you’ve been closed for so long,” Mr Phillips said.
“We’ll be glad to be open. We did lose some older customers because they were worried, understandably, but fortunately we’ve got a good loyal customer base.
“We’ve had lots of messages saying ‘as soon as you’re back open we’ll support you’.”
Tamworth Sports Bar has signed up as a venue for the #SnookerLife Regional Cup, an amateur competition taking place in July, and Mr Phillips says all except a handful of places have been snapped up.
That confidence and eagerness to get back to normal is also felt elsewhere in the country, with Mill Brow Snooker and Social Club in Widnes signing up to the #SnookerLife Regional Cup too.
Stephen Llewellyn organises the competitions, is resident snooker coach and also runs the cafe at the venue. A Level 2 WPBSA coach with a high break of 136, he started playing snooker at the age of 16 and is 40 this month.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to getting back to it, the playing side and the social aspect of it. I really miss that.
“Usually I am Monday billiards, Wednesday-Thursday snooker, lessons over the weekend. But I’ve just been in the house.
“I’ve tried to take the positives out of it but this last lockdown crippled me. I’m eager to get on now.”