Spare a thought for Reanne Evans.

While twin titans of the Crucible John Higgins and Ronnie O'Sullivan were launching the Betfred.com World Championship, which carries a first prize of £250,000, Evans was completing a 5-1 defeat of Maria Catalano, O'Sulivan's cousin, to win the women's world title and thus a clean sweep of every ladies event this season.

Her reward for winning the biggest prize in the women's game? £1,000.

Women's snooker looked like it may take off in a big way in the late 1980s when Allison Fisher ruled the roost.

Fisher was an excellent player who beat Neal Foulds and Mike Hallett in the Matchroom (now Premier) League.

Barry Hearn (yes, him again) got a couple of women's world championships television coverage but the brutal truth was that the standard was not of the level TV audiences were used to.

Fisher wisely recognised that she had to move on and headed to the USA where she has made a very good living on the 9-ball pool circuit.

Karen Corr and Kelly Fisher have since joined her, leaving Evans as the outstanding player of the current time.

The WPBSA used to subsidise women's events but withdrew this support in the financial crisis that hit soon after the Altium bid was rejected in 2002.

Cut adrift, the WLBSA have done a good job in keeping afloat and maintaining a circuit. Such enthusiasts should be saluted, including Paul Wood, a billiards and snooker fan who provided sponsorship money for the World Championship.

Evans should also receive credit for winning the title for a sixth year in succession but her achievement will, in truth, pass by virtually unnoticed by the wider world.

There's no sign of a massive cash injection for the women's game, which would go some way to increasing participation and providing more challengers to Evans's dominance.

Hearn yesterday claimed that snooker's Crucible World Championship could one day - long into the future in my view - have a first prize of £1m.

The women's game would settle for a lot less than that.


Monique said...

The Ladies game mainly relies on voluntary work ... people like Mandy Fisher and Tim Dunkley have litterally held the game together on their own time for so many, many years. Mark Jones has invested a lot in providing technical support, feeding the Web sites and promoting, sponsoring aswell (the Masters).
Most players come and play in events, several times a year and it actually costs them. They have no sponsors, they have to pay the entry fees, their accomodations and travel fees and take time off work. They have little hope to ever win anything of importance and yet they do it.
It's easy to look at the standard with contempt but those are players who work full time, or are still at school, often have a family they must look after ... and still invest the hours they can in practice out of passion for the game.
The refs who come there, with their skills on offer, spend many hours for very, very little little material reward: Steve Markham, Colin Selby, Vic Hartley, Dan Lewis, Ron Collety, Dave Church-West, Martyn Royce to name a few...
So yes, have a thought for them all

RichP said...

Why does a game of mediocrity deserve anything. If Evans wanted to push on she could join the men's circuit - there's nothing stopping her. You can't bankroll events that don't appeal to the public. It sounds harsh but i'm afraid it's true. You only had to watch Evans in the Six Reds event to see the standard we're looking at.

Monique said...

@RichP ... Reanne in the 6-reds did beat John Higgins in the round-robin. She wasn't bright on television, true. Neither was Pagett BTW. None of them have much experience with such conditions and context.

Anonymous said...

To judge a player based on one appearance in a six reds event when she's not used to the TV conditions is stupid.

The ladies have jobs and so can't practice and the standard can't improve without more players, particularly young players.

Allison should have been a star. Well, she is one, but in America rather than her homeland.

RichP said...

To reply to Monique's post. The men's amateur game is the same. These people play the game because they love it, no-one is forcing them to play. I used to play in events which would cost money for entry and travel - I didn't expect it to be subsidised. In an economic climate such as this I don't think the women's game can expect anything different. If the standard was better then who knows but lets be honest it isn't.

Monique said...

Yes let's be honest. Have you ever seen Reanne play, other than in that televised 6-reds match?
And there is more to it than just talent and practice.

Be sure to read the comments as well.

RichP said...

Yes I have seen Reanne play other than in the 6-reds but like many professional men it's far easier knocking balls in away from the television cameras. If you're good enough then you will make it whatever means. If you've got the talent you'll get the sponsorship or you'll work your backside off to get your own funds which you'll then invest in a snooker career. Her PIOS results didn't stand out so perhaps Reanne isn't good enough? yet Reanne has won the womens title six years running, that says a lot about the standards involved. We talk about Allison Fisher being this amazing female player but again her results on the pro tour were not great, I think she hardly won a match. Then when she realised she didn't have the ability she left to the USA for the pool circuit which is fair enough, she didn't feel the need to try and defend her standard of snooker. I can't understand why women's snooker feels it should be bankrolled when it doesn't offer any source of quality entertainment to the public.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hello Dave
How are you! The ladies game will always be a contentious subject. The fault or blame for there inferior skill in snooker goes back almost one hundred years.
Women were not allowed in social clubs and when they were allowed membership they were barred from the “Snooker Rooms”

When the liberal committees of social clubs allowed female access it was on the condition that they must concede table rotation to a male member.
Lady players were not allowed into public billiard /snooker clubs as the clubs were the hiding sanctuaries from wives mothers and girl friends.

The modern game needs a great volume of practice and allows visits by men to strange clubs every where. Sadly this facility is not made easy for female youngsters.
To learners the basic technique of bending over the table is “Suggestive” therefore few girls can relax and show-off a perfect “Stance and Balance”.

What the game really needs is Lady Coaches but first Lady players free from “Male Coaches”. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

I can't this seriously until I know what ChrisK thinks

southerner said...

I just feel sad that I never seem to see any female names in the lists of entrants for the junior events at Pontins.
Why are'nt young girls encouraged into snooker the same way as young boys are?

Anonymous said...

Eh? Girls playing snooker? How long has this been going on then?

Anonymous said...

women circuit in snooker is so uninteresting that I wouldn't expect it to have funds in the future

Dave H said...

Stand back everyone...Mr hey you is correct!

The culture, certainly in the UK, was not only unwelcoming to girls and women but sometimes completely discriminatory, hence fewer took up the game

Snooker, though, has a greater percentage of female followers than most other sports if the research is to be believed

Janie Watkins said...

Whey hey, I agree with Mr Hey You.

Historically for the ladies it's been a numbers game and lack of opportunity.

When I first started playing we could go into the new snooker clubs, but were barred from many of the traditional venues, like Workies, Institutes, Lab and Con clubs etc.

that prevented us playing in the local leagues, a learning ground in those days for many players.

Even in the club I played in, The old Berkshire Club in Windsor, which strongly supported Ladies snooker to such an extent that we had a weekly Ladies Day, even there down in the main hall we were in a minority ratio of about 1 to 100.

Mr Hey You is right about the bending over the table bit. One always felt people were watching you as some sort of freak in the club. It was an intimidating atmosphere and many of the lady players have had to run the gauntlet of discrimination, sexist comments and behaviour. It's not surprising that many didn't carry on with the sport.

Nowadays it's all far more open. But harking back to the days when WPBSA took over ladies snooker. Because of the minimum age limit of 16 in an event, we lost an entire generation of players.

And that shows up very clearly today. We have the "senior" players still competing and just a few new under 16s. There are very few players in their late teens and early 20s because they couldn't enter the events for a number of years.

There are qualified lady coaches around, sadly some have given up, or in the case of Karen Corr, who was a wpbsa coach, are in USA now trying to make a living.

Personally I don't see any problem with being coached by the men. All coaches who've been properly trained and certificated have had CRB checks and been properly instructed in etiquette.

The coaches who work in schools and run junior classes are one of the main recruiting grounds to bring more girls into the sport.

But it's also about role models. I never even conceived that women played snooker until, back in 1983, I saw a mixed doubles event on Grandstand. Even then I didn't know where to play until the Berkshire club advertised in the local paper to host a Ladies Day.

It's always been a thorny topic about why the girls aren't as good as the men. As obviously there is no physical strength reasons involved. People claim (rightly in my case!) that girls don't have the same degree of spacial awareness (eg we can't park a car, well I can't!) and some claim women don't have the same mental strengths in adversity.

I discount that claim as I don't recall men ever having to suffer period pains or giving birth!

It is certainly true that there's more "wastage" amongst women players. Mainly due to family and work commitments. Even today the fellas can come home from work, find dinner on the table and then go out to the snooker club for the evening. Many women are having to stay home to cook that dinner and looks after the kids etc

Reanne's achievement is all the greater because she is a mum as well as a player.

I'm not making excuses for the girls, just pointing out some of the obvious problems that have plagued the sport for many years.

Over to Mr Hey You!


In the modern age of sexual equality, in a game where physical strength is no advantage, I cannot see why women need their own circuit in the first place.

I mean, you might as well have a circuit for redheads, or black people, or short people.

The only difference is that any of the latter 3 would be played at a far higher standard.

I feel a level of sympathy for Reanne Evans, 6 world titles and all that, but I also feel preferential treatment should not be meted out on grounds of sex, anymore than colour or size.

Overall the standard of womens snooker is not much higher than the average club standard, and until this changes, theres unlikely to be a female presence on the main tour

Anonymous said...

Dave and Janie - what have you done? You'll never shut him up now!

But I agree with your sentiments, in any male dominated arena it is going to be difficult for women to be taken seriously, but that said, determination and natural talent can make up for it. The bottom line is that results and performances grab attention no matter who you are.

Anonymous said...


13 year old Hannah Jones entered this years Pontins Junior Festival and qualified for the knockout stages losing to the evetual winner of the event.

jamie brannon said...

I don't see Mr Hey You's comment. Is Reanne's acheivement that remarkable though? The best female players went off to play pool. It's like when Joe Davis won fifteen straight world titles, it is impressive, but he had hardly any serious competitors.

I would doubt that research into female followers, particulary young women. When I tell young women I love snooker and tell them it is a sexy sport they either laugh or look at you weird.

Dave H said...

That might just be you, Jamie

Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm a 38 yr old woman and people do look at me like I'm a weirdo if I tell them I'm a snooker fan.


I beleive this was a feat also accumplished in the 2001/02 season. Well done Reanne Evens. As a fellow snooker annarack, David, can you please confirm if my statistics are correct? Cheers mate.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hello Dave
Thanks for the plug lad but most of all Dave thanks for the post, you are very kind. It is nice to see so many responses on the blog, especially from lady players.

About lady coaches Dave! There was nothing sexual in my inference on men coaches. My meaning is that men coaches are still teaching the old fashioned “Watch Me” now and I’ll show you again method first introduced by Joe Davis during the 19-45 war years.

To All female players by all means wear sexy slacks and jeans but still retain your own distinctive feminine attire. Cosmetics and lingerie is a bigger sponsor than tobacco and alcohol.

The game of snooker is really easy to a dedicated student; but hard for any person that wants to play like Mr A, B, C or D. The game is detailed enough to be an “O” and “A” level sport subject in high schools of the future.
Thanks again Dave for the plug. Mr hey you

jamie brannon said...

Come on Dave that is a bit personal!! My touch with the ladies is never in doubt, I just generally avoid talking snooker!

Anonymous said...

Make your mind up Brannon at 2:48pm "I tell young women I love snooker and tell them it is a sexy sport"

5:28pm you "avoid talking snooker"

Has Dave's insult hurt you so badly that your forgetting things..

Man up Jamie lad have a pop back at Dave ;)

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Janie Watkins and Hello Dave
Thanks for the plug Janie! As you know lass the lovely upper structure of female players is no longer a serious handicap to the girls acquiring a correct cue action.

To repeat Janie! Push the cue through the nest of the bridge hand and always “Brushing Past” (without touching) the chest or breast. Lock the cue arm at the elbow to complete the cue action.

A point to note Janie is: A snooker cue not touching the wood, the rubber or the bridge nest is an uncontrolled one handed swing of the cue probable to the light shade.

These wee tips Janie are best practiced at home on the kitchen table (without embarrassment) with a cue or brush handle.
The potting and positional play is very easy but only to a “Good Student” showing complete reliance on a snooker technique. Have ago Janie but not for commercial use. Mr hey you

Janie Watkins said...

To Mr Hey You

Thanks for the tips. Sadly about twenty five years too late for me

I actually learned to cue on "said" kitchen table, by cueing through a match box, and it required straight cueing to get straight through the matchbox lid without touching the sides.

Also I was extremely privileged to be coached by your favourite coach Terry Griffiths. Never ever did Griff have a cue in his hand and show the shot or say do it like this.

My first experience of a coach was a six foot five, one eyed, right handed coach - I was five foot four and left handed - it was not a happy relationship.

I never had a problem with "upper chest proportions" - sadly!

You may know that the Berkshire Club was owned by Jack Karnehm in those days and we were taught "the Karnehm" method - which basically meant attempting to dislocate your hip on every shot as you tried to get sideways on - sideways is great for cricketers but not for snooker players!

Since having both eye and back problems I had to adapt to a square on stance.

All of which is slightly off topic!

Back on topic I think some bloggers are comparing ladies snooker with mens snooker. We don't compare football or tennis like for like and same for Ladies snooker, there is absolutely no reason why there shouldn't be a flourishing ladies circuit around the world in its own right.

One message I would plead to my fellow lady players is to ditch the negativity before they kill the game.

The most successful lady players such as Reanne Evans, Kelly Fisher, Karen Corr etc all played an attacking "go for the game" type of snooker.
Sadly many ladies around the world still play the safety first approach which died out in the 1980s and is like a dirge to watch and wreck schedules of all the international events.

Anonymous said...

Janie, are you not still left handed and 5'4"?

you seem to suggest you used to be....

also, i think women should play to win and if their strength is safety then they should do what they are good at....and not what people like to see.

the time we dictate to players what shots or style they play is the day the game dies as we would all be watching the same thing, every match.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Janie and Hello Dave
How are you both! Thanks again Dave for the posts on the “Fine Art” method. About being too late Janie for new ideas as a player, it is not too late lass to advise youngsters and others from making the same wrong choices.

Old Jack was very dogmatic and was so wrong about the “Quarter Body Twist” of look right and play aligned left. Plus the empty match box routine adopted which is really detrimental to accurate addressing and cueing.

I can’t help remarking (factiously) Janie on the coaching lark you were very unlucky lass. You seemed to start off badly and then fell away.
The road to snooker perfection Janie is full of good intentions. No player or coach would intentionally give you a “Bum Steer” but having a certificate or a snooker title is very impressive to most youngsters.

Another old chestnut Janie “Going through the Spots” as a cueing exercise! Tell the girls Janie that it becomes easy by using only the middle of the cue “Tip”. Students always hit the middle of the object ball. Mr hey you

Anonymous said...

One thing about the women's game that I cannot understand is the dress code.

A lady would never attend a black tie event wearing black tie. The dress code of formal private members clubs (from where the dress code for the mens game presumably emanates) would almost certainly have prohibited women from wearing trousers.

So why are female snooker players expected to wear mens evening wear?

jamie brannon said...

As you can see I laughed off the insult which I don't think was intended as malicious. I knew I had opened myself up for a remark like that.

I don't bring it up so much now snooker, I meant

Anonymous said...

do you want them in bikinis, 1201?

Anonymous said...

we all know you meant Ronnie was sexy, Jamie ;)

Anonymous said...

Why is it that in most reports about the women when Maria is mentioned her relative Ronnie is too?

Youd think with his track record of doing "bad things" that that would be the last person shed want continually mentioned with. I would...

Tim Dunkley said...

Women on the World Ladies Billiards & Snooker Association circuit are not expected to play in men’s evening wear.

The rules allow long dresses, etc.

It is their choice.


Jane Holland said...

I agree about the negativity of the ladies' game, Janie. Personally, I always go for the pot, not the safety; just a pity it doesn't tend to go in!

Ah well, you can't put in what natural talent left out.

Poor old Reanne, eh? She should have come along in the 80s and 90s, when there was still a chance that women's snooker might go global. But once Allison left, and the others began to follow ...

Times may change though. Just not sure how they could. Women's snooker needs a whizz promoter with energy and vision. Any suggestions?