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“Everything is a different now, old pub sports are more or less dying out” Former Skittles player insists pub sports’ popularity is in decline

Darts, skittles, bar billiards and pool are just a few of the activities that you would see in some pubs across the country. But is the age of pub sports slowly but surely coming to an end?

Gloucestershire resident and former skittles player, John Carter believes that we could be seeing the end of pub sports fairly soon.

“Things are different now, you go to the pub and there would be like three skittle teams, two men’s darts teams, one ladies dart team,” Carter said.

“Now that’s faded away, Skittles is still popular but instead of having two or three teams, now there are just one.”

“Our entertainment was going to the pub, and we might get a darts team going or skittle team going. Then more people got televisions and gradually it faded out. A lot of skittle allies now have been turned into restaurants as pubs make more money from selling food than what they could do having skittles.”

The 81 year-old is no stranger to pub sports, particularly skittles, his team won the Trowbridge and District league two seasons in a row.

Skittles is perhaps one of the most popular pub sports with the activity having leagues in both Cheltenham & Gloucester, as well as plenty of other regions across the south west.

The Cheltenham skittles league has 96 teams competing across seven divisions with players ageing from 17 onwards, and generation to generation.

However, this doesn’t tell the whole story, with leagues falling through yearly and there being 16 leagues just 20 years ago.

But Carter insists that along with the other pub sports, skittles is also on its way out.

“I think in 5 or 10 years time, skittles will be gone,” Carter thinks.

It’s cut down because with Covid, people were staying in a lot, they can buy beer cheaper in the supermarkets than in the pub and they can stay at home to watch all the sport they want to watch on television. The only pubs what do good money are the ones that have a restaurant there and do good food.”

The Celery Boys are one of the most intriguing teams in Cheltenham’s Skittles League’s, playing at Albion House (above). The team was founded 37 years ago, by Mark Williams, who still captains the side to this day.

The club had seen 16 promotions across 30 years starting in the bottom tier, before staying in the top flight for a few years, eventually being relegated twice in two seasons.

Although there are still lots of people that enjoy playing pub sports, there is no hiding from the fact that pubs are in decline and what goes along with that is the downfall of pub sports all together.

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