Come and have a ball!

Billiards. Robson Harrison (14) Owston Ferry 'C'.  Picture: Malcolm Billingham
Billiards. Robson Harrison (14) Owston Ferry 'C'. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

YOU don’t have to be as old as the Isle of Axholme Billiards League to enjoy playing in it, says Ian Ballinger.

Ballinger took over as league secretary last season, taking charge of the 10-team division and the umpteen cup competitions that run from October to April.

Billiards. Epworth 'B' team mates Graham Haggard, 76, left and Colin Lewis ,64.  Picture: Malcolm Billingham

Billiards. Epworth 'B' team mates Graham Haggard, 76, left and Colin Lewis ,64. Picture: Malcolm Billingham

And he is keen to get the message out there about one of the Isle’s longest-running sporting traditions.

Formed in 1949, the Isle of Axholme Billiards League has just entered its 63rd season.

And while the league has always fluctuated in terms of the number of teams competing, the Isle tradition of competitive billiards continues to go from strength to strength.

Ballinger, however, is eager for the league to grow - and for more people to give the sport a go.

Billiards might conjure up images of smokey snooker halls, a game predominantly enjoyed by the retired male.

But Ballinger dismisses that stereotype, and says billiards is for all.

“Billiards can be played by anyone,” he told the Bells.

“The league’s over 60s group is always increasing and they now have their own competition which is played throughout the season.

“But the league and each of the ten teams are always looking for new players - young and old.

“Over the years a few females have played in the league too,” he added.

“In fact a young lady turned out this season for league leaders West Butterwick B when they were struggling to find six players.

“The age range is really quite large at the moment.

“The youngest player is about 11 years old and we go up to a spritely 92 years!

“There are teams in most villages in the Isle of Axholme but if there’s not one where you live, we’re always on the look-out for new teams.”

Founder members of the league were Epworth A and B, Owston Ferry A and B, West Butterwick, British Legion A and B, and Gunness.

At its peak, 18 teams competed in the team competition.

For more information about the Isle of Axholme Billiards League contact Ian Ballinger on 01724 784615.