In mitigation, I'd have to say that I'm rarely in town on days other than at the weekend, which is altogether the wrong time to catch the highly competitive business of league play. Skittles is largely a Monday to Thursday pastime in Cheltenham, and more often than not you simply won't find an alley in use on a busy Friday or Saturday evening. Also, the alley at the Brown Jug is tucked away to the rear of the pub, an entirely necessary precaution given the noise generated during a hotly contested league match.
I sometimes feel that skittles (and traditional pub games in general) could benefit from being 'advertised' a little more at the pubs where they are played. I wonder how much more interest there might be in our great pub gaming traditions if their custodians shouted a bit more about them. If there's one thing that my own interest in pubs and pub games has revealed with some measure of certainty, it's that even the healthiest local gaming traditions can quickly and irrevocably decline without a steady take-up from interested newcomers, and new blood is always needed for a game to thrive. Clearly skittles has already seen a marked decline in Cheltenham, as it has almost everywhere. The question is, will this decline continue to the point where alleys like the one at the Brown Jug are just a memory.
Norwood Arms 'A' are a good example of a team now playing in exile. The team are presumably well settled at the Brown Jug, and yet they've retained their original name in the league. This seems to be entirely normal, and probably traditional throughout league skittles, but can be a little confusing for an outsider like myself. Put simply, a pub team playing under a particular pubs name is no guarantee that the game is still being played at that pub, or even that the pub is still standing! The Norwood itself is still trading, located as it is only a stones-throw from the Brown Jug. But it's now a pub without an alley following extensive refurbishment and a focus on the more prosaic business of dining.
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