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  • Writer's picturePhil

No mere bagatelle for the Champions of the World!

Last Friday evening I visited the Albany Social Club in Earlsdon to take in an entertaining performance by local band the Subterraneans after taking up the kind offer of a ticket by Coventry Ambassador Marie.

The visit to the Albany brought back memories of the time that I used to live in the area and my neighbour George telling me of the pre-war exploits of his friends in the club’s bagatelle team.

Bagatelle is an old pub game with similarities to bar billiards. George told me about the Albany Club being “World Champions”. I didn’t doubt this as my dad (born in Albany Road in the 1920s) had also recalled that story – with the addition of mentioning that all of the entrants were from Coventry! I had always thought that the use of the title “World Series” to determine Major League Baseball’s annual championship was a bit of a stretch given that all of the entrants come from USA and Canada but Coventry’s Bagatelle World Championships seem to trump even that!

My recent research tells me that there are only two remaining bagatelle leagues in the UK – one in Chester and one in Coventry (each with their own local rules). Despite the game’s tradition in the City the league now only consists of seven members – six Working Mens Clubs and the Humber Pub.

In recent posts I have mentioned my Grandma’s sporting exploits with the Humber Sports & Social Club. She worked at the Humber as a thirteen year old girl contributing to the WWI war effort. Whilst there she witnessed the building of the Humber Pub (still home to one of the few remaining bagatelle tables!) across the road from the factory. Her father was one of the first members of Coventry WMC – the country’s oldest Working Mens Club set up partially in response to over-inflated beer prices in the city’s pubs.

I am looking forward to my ramble taking me around a few of Coventry’s clubs and pubs as I attempt to find out more about the exploits of our own world champions – surely we should hang on to their story and game as we approach City of Culture status…….

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