Pensioners form snooker club to keep them on the ball

From left, Liz Langley, Val Targett,  Irene Wilson and Betty Lenier. Pictures by Lynsey Thompson

From left, Liz Langley, Val Targett, Irene Wilson and Betty Lenier. Pictures by Lynsey Thompson

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These plucky pensioners have turned a few heads as they are cueing up a new hobby to keep themselves active.

The feisty foursome, aged 77 to 90, have ditched the knitting in favour of snooker cues and are giving a whole new meaning to “needing a rest”.

From left, Irene Wilson, Liz Langley, Betty Lenier, Val Targett. Pictures by Lynsey Thompson

From left, Irene Wilson, Liz Langley, Betty Lenier, Val Targett. Pictures by Lynsey Thompson

The women, who are all friends from Boldon Community Association bowling club, wanted a new interest to keep busy when the indoor season finished.

They’re all avid snooker fans and decided to give it a go. They have been playing every Wednesday afternoon for the past few months at Boldon Community Association snooker hall.

The grandmothers, Val Targett, Betty Lenier, Liz Langley and Irene Wilson, had never played before and are quickly improving their skills.

Val Targett, 77, said: “Although we’re snooker fans, none of us had ever played before. We weren’t quite sure how to set the balls up and didn’t know how to hold the cues properly, but each week we are getting better and very gradually improving.”

From left, Irene Wilson, Liz Langley, Betty Lenier, Val Targett. pictures by Lynsey Thompson

From left, Irene Wilson, Liz Langley, Betty Lenier, Val Targett. pictures by Lynsey Thompson

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for the eldest member of the group, 90-year-old Irene Wilson, has been the table size. She said: “Being only 4ft 9in-tall and playing on a full-size snooker table has its problems, but it’s all great fun and we have such a laugh.”

Each player tries to coach their team-mate on the best shot to take and which ball to go for, and there’s a considerable amount of healthy competition between them all.

Betty Lenier, 80, said: “We’re all very competitive, that’s why we love snooker so much. Each shot can help or hinder the next player, so you’re always worried you might set up a shot for the next person. There’s also a lot of cheating going on, so you have to keep watching, they can be sneaky!”

Liz Langley, 85, said: “It’s a very social sport, we can have a good chat, it’s fun and it’s exercise too. I’ve got a sore neck but it helps me stretch out and keeps it moving. We can do anything we put our minds to – we might be older but nothing can stop us.”

From left, Liz Langley, Val Targett,  Irene Wilson and Betty Lenier. Pictures by Lynsey Thompson

From left, Liz Langley, Val Targett, Irene Wilson and Betty Lenier. Pictures by Lynsey Thompson

Group members have 19 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren between them.

“I’m proud to be 90 and still so active,” says Irene. “My grandchildren and great-grandchildren think it’s fabulous and tell all of their friends about me.”

Although vastly improved from their first few weeks, the ladies do admit to being quite a way off from their snooker heroes, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Sean Murphy.

“We could really do with a little bit of coaching to help us improve. I think Ronnie O’Sullivan might be busy so if there’s any other young men who can give us some tips that would great,” jokes Betty. “Especially if he has his own teeth!”

But what does the future hold? “We are thinking we might try football,” says Liz. “We can give those premiership footballers a good run for their money!”