Snooker was once a game played mostly in smoky working men’s clubs across the UK. During the 1960s and 70s and into the early 80s, these clubs were commonplace and spawned many top players of the time. Birmingham, being one of the UK’s great industrial cities, would’ve been home to many such clubs and produced one of snooker’s star players before the game became popular.
The most famous Birmingham-born snooker player from the game’s formative years was Graham Miles. Graham, who sadly passed away in 2014. Miles earned a professional status back in 1971 and reached the World Championship final in 1974, only losing out to the near-invincible Ray Reardon of Wales.
Graham’s near miss in the World Championship final was his greatest achievement, but there were many fine moments in his career. He was a finalist in the 1979 Holsten Lager International, notably beating big names like John Pulman, Dennis Taylor and Alex Higgins along the way. He was eventually defeated by another talented player, John Spencer.
Cliff Thorburn, a formidable match player known as “The Grinder”, was easily defeated by Graham Miles in the 1981 final of the Tolly Cobbold Classic.
Graham Miles retired from professional snooker in 1992 but is remembered by all fans of the game from that era.
The standard of snooker steadily rose from the 1980s onwards ,and is so high today that nobody dominates the game as they might have in an earlier era. Young players tend to come from plush snooker centres rather than working men’s clubs.
Two of Birmingham’s current young players with great potential are Hamim Hussain (British Under-14 Champion in 2014/15 and 2015/16) and Mitchell Mann (winner of the 2014 EBSA European Snooker Championship).
Where to Play
Birmingham offers several snooker clubs and centres where you can practice or play a few frames with friends. The Rileys Sports Bar in Inge Street offers pool and snooker tables as well as other activities. Also well-liked is the Perfection Snooker Club in Strichley, to the south-west of the city.