Blackball Pool Scotland

scottish blackball pool
The game of pool found its way to Scotland in the late 1960s.
The rise in popularity was facilitated by the small size of pool tables, making them easy to install in so many of Scotland's pubs and clubs.
For many pubs competitive games were the lifeblood of their trade so the switch to pool from traditional games came easily.


There has been a much-publicised decline in the number of public houses throughout the UK over the last 20 years or so. Scotland has been particularly hard hit.
The problem of the reduced number of pubs which provide pool venues has been compounded by changes in the nature of many inner city pubs. In particular there has been a trend for major pub chains to attempt to provide places to eat and drink without what they believe is the distraction of pool, darts or other pub games.

ball_room_sports_barFortunately the reduction in the number of pubs as pool venues has been offset by the increasing number of spacious pool halls and clubs which provide outstanding cue sport facilities in larger towns and cities.
Modern snooker and pool venues allow customers, including families, to enjoy a drink, meal and a game or two in a safe, clean and fun environment.

The result of a survey of Scottish pool players in 2014 found the vast majority of players believed that pool halls and clubs will play an increasingly important role in the future of the game in Scotland by hosting both league and national events. Pubs are likely to continue to provide the majority of venues for the sport although not on the same scale as they did in the 1970s and 1980s.

Throughout the United Kingdom the rules of pool evolved as more and more people took up the game. Many of Scotland's present day pool leagues were established in the 1970s.
In 1979, a Scottish national organisation was established for the first time to administer the sport. That organisation was named the Scottish National Pool Council.

Scotland Gents Pool Team 1991
This photograph shows the SNPC's Scottish gents team which competed in the UK's Home International Championships held at Butlins, Ayr in 1991... photo courtesy of Jean Mcilroy.
The SNPC was to become the Scottish Pool Association (SPA) which is now the official governing body for the sport in Scotland.
The SPA is affiliated to the World Pool Association (WPA) and the European Blackball Association (EBA).



At the 8ball pool unification meeting organised by the WPA, late in 2004, it was agreed that the small-table game should be played to blackball rules and this has since become the dominant rule-set worldwide.
In Scotland all SPA administered pool events have been played to blackball rules since 2005 and all Scottish leagues which affiliate to that organisation must play their competitions to those rules.

In 2014 Scottish Pool Association's affiliated pool leagues nominated a representative who provided detailed statistics relating to the composition and structure of their league. The vast majority of affiliated league representatives (around 40) were conscientious enough to contribute to the survey.
It can consequently be said with some confidence that the following is an accurate reflection of the state of Scotland's pool leagues at that time....
  • There are in total around 8,500 blackball players registered with leagues of which close to 5,700 play league pool on a weekly basis.
  • There are almost 750 SPA affiliated league teams in total playing regular blackball pool from the Shetland Isles to Berwick-upon-Tweed.
  • Teams vary from 4 to 8 players, although more players may turn up for the squad from which captains make team selections on league nights (often Tuesday evenings).
  • Throughout Scotland 450 pubs and clubs provide venues for SPA affiliated league pool. Over 700 pool tables are available in total at these venues.
  • Of 42 pool leagues, 27 said that both singles and doubles matches were played on a league night. The remainder reported playing only singles matches.
  • From 8 to 16 frames are played during a league match, with the average number being 12 frames. Most leagues play out all scheduled frames in a match.
  • The average fee that pool teams pay for affiliation to their local league is £60, although this varies from £10 to £160 depending upon league.
  • To keep its membership informed close to 75% of leagues currently maintain a web presence of some kind and every affiliated league had been allocated a twitter account.
  • In 2014 there were 42 SPA affiliated pool leagues. This represented a 23% increase in the number of affiliations over the previous year.
Regrettably the official web site through which the above data was gathered had to be closed down and ultimately scrapped due to lack of support from key Scottish Pool Association officials. However much of the information gathered then remains relevant today. Today there are a similar number of affiliated leagues in Scotland.

All surveyed leagues were affiliated to the Scottish Pool Association which states its aims as....
  • Acting as the governing body for Scottish pool and representing the interests of its members.
  • Managing, promoting and supporting the game of 8ball Pool throughout Scotland. 
  • Without prejudice ensuring the advancement and development of the sport of blackball.
On behalf of its affiliated leagues the SPA organises a multitude of individual and team events for players of all abilities at venues throughout Scotland. The first national tournament for individual players was introduced in 1980 and it has ever since been held annually. The 'Scottish Singles' remains Scotland's most prestigious annual pool event.

The Scottish Pool Association also administer a selection process to determine who will represent Scotland at international blackball events. Selection is based upon performance in national competitions.

team scotland blackball
At international level Scotland is represented by gents, ladies, seniors, masters, under-23s, under-18s, under-15s and 'specials'.
Scottish teams and individual players have achieved regular success internationally when competing in both World and European blackball events.
The numerous titles won by Scotland in the European Blackball Championships show how successful the country has been in internationally.


There is an independent Scottish Pool Association survey on Blackball.UK which allows players to share their opinion on how that organisation is organised and run. The results of that Scottish survey provide interesting viewing.
If any blackball organisation or league is interested in having a free pool-related survey set up on their behalf this may be possible. Please contact ukpool@gmail.com with details.

There is an overview of the development and history of pool in the United Kingdom on the home page of this website.

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