Exclusive by Steve Pearson and Sam Charlton
The Kirkstall based Snooker club continues to thrive despite a recent report suggesting national participation figures are on the slide.
Figures released by Sport England in 2018 showed a 15.8% decline in snooker participation levels across the UK, down from 28,000 to 23,600 year to year.
An exclusive interview with Leeds-born professional David Grace revealed that the Northern Snooker Centre continues to maintain high membership during key times when the sport is featured on National TV: “Yes, we see lots of new memberships happen when people watch snooker on television and just want to have a go themselves.”
The 2019 World Championships are currently underway on the BBC at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, and David believes that this national exposure is key to safeguarding the future of the sport: “It’s massive. It’s been on the BBC for years, probably about 40 years now and it’s really important that it stays in the public eye.”
Grace added: “Times are changing with digital media, a lot of people have Sky and EuroSport so they can access it that way, but there’s still quite a lot of people who only have Freeview.”
The club attracts a broad membership from across all over Yorkshire and offers opportunities for players of all ages and abilities: “We’re lucky the Northern Snooker Centre has so many tables here. People come from miles around to come and play here.”
The club has been a hub for the prospering Yorkshire snooker community, acting as the base for practice for Grace himself, and world top 100 Father-Son combination Peter and Oliver Lines. The club was also favoured by 3-time Masters Champion Paul Hunter before he tragically lost his battle with stomach cancer in 2006 at the tender age of 27.
The club also has a special place reserved in the history books when on July 9th 2017, Liverpool-native Sean Maddocks broke Ronnie O’Sullivan’s 26 year old record to become the youngest ever player to compile a 147 maximum break. Maddocks achieved the feat at the age of 15 years and 90 days at the NSC during the LiteTask Pro-Am series.
The full interview featuring comments about Snooker’s Olympic bid and David’s return to the pro tour with David Grace can be seen below.