Saturday, 23 June 2012

Syston & District Social Club, Leicestershire

Members clubs of all persuasions are frequently the last bastions of the pub game tradition, particularly the more genteel pastimes of Dominoes, Cards and that most genteel of all games, Bowls. For the older generation in particular, clubs are often the best, and in some cases the only venue for an affordable drink with friends, perhaps over an afternoon game of Cribbage.

But many clubs are struggling to attract the new membership required to thrive and guarantee their existence into the future. It seems that the clubs which are succeeding in difficult times are those which have opened themselves up to the wider community. At their best, clubs can be a truly great local resource, and the very best are exploiting this by aiming to be as inclusive as possible.

Syston is a village blessed with a good range of pubs, and one of the best clubs you're likely to find. The committee and membership support numerous charities, host several local associations, put on live music, and even entertain Salsa dance lessons. They also organise an annual Beer Festival, and have achieved entry in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide for the quality of the real ales available at the bar. A very 'social' club then, and one where the very sociable activity of games play is well catered for, including Cribbage, Darts, and Skittles, both Table and Long Alley.

A Mixed Bag of skittles. Both the skinny hardwood Leicester variety, and the more dumpy plastic Northamptonshire skittles are available for play. The Leicester version is shown below, but the club team currently play the Northants game.

The Long Alley is in the same room as the Table Skittles, which in common with virtually all such alleys doubles as a function/meeting room when not in use. This is the only way many pubs and clubs can justify the continued existence of the game. The Leicestershire Long Alley game uses hardwood barrel-shaped 'balls', which make for an unpredictable bounce in an inexperienced hand. Many of the old pins have been wrapped with gaffer tape to help extend their life since a full set of long alley pins are not cheap to buy.

The sloping shute for returning the Long Alley balls, with the Skittles Table in the background.

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