World Women's Snooker number three 'banned from playing' at men-only Yorkshire working men's clubs

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The World Women's Snooker number three has given up playing for her local league because she is not allowed to play at men-only clubs in Yorkshire.

The World Women's Snooker number three has given up playing for her local league because she is not allowed to play at men-only clubs

The Women's World number three snooker player has been forced to give up playing in her local league. Photo: SWNS

The Women's World number three snooker player has been forced to give up playing in her local league. Photo: SWNS

Rebecca Kenna is fighting the archaic rule that means working men's clubs do not have to allow female players onto their premises if their own regulations refuse it.

The married 30-year-old had been playing in the Crosshills and District Snooker League in her local town of Keighley, West Yorkshire since 2013.

But over the past five years, she has experienced such sexism she was left with no alternative but to quit the league after the last season in 2018.

Both Grafton Club and Keighley Cycling Club - who take part in the league - have strict no women rules.

Grafton Working Mens' Club

Grafton Working Mens' Club

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This means she has missed out on vital team games - and lost out on a trophy for Best Player.

Rebecca said: "The clubs get more revenue for hosting a final, so one season, when I was in the final, the Grafton had agreed that I could play there.

"It was then I realised these places could bend their rules if they wanted to, they just chose not to, and that hurt me a lot.

"I have also missed out on the trophies for being the best player because I have not been able to play in games at these venues. It's disgusting and it's humiliating."

Keighley Cycling Club. Photos: SWNS

Keighley Cycling Club. Photos: SWNS

Rebecca, who now coaches snooker full time at her own centre, started playing with her dad when she was four-years-old.

She grew up playing the sport with her dad, Mick Granger at the Keighley Liberal Club as soon as she was tall enough to look over the table.

The pair would play for fun but in 2012 they were invited to join the league, where teams pit their best players against each other.

However, she soon came up against sexism in the sport when she was not allowed to play at those two clubs.

She added: "On those nights I would have to stay at home. My dad also refused to play."

Sadly this league would be the first and last that dad and daughter would play in together as engineer Mick died, aged 57, in December 2015 from Lymphoma .

Rebecca threw herself into the sport, using the intense concentration required to master the game, to get her through the most difficult time of her life.

It was then she joined World Women's Snooker and began taking her sport more seriously.

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As she gained prestige in the women's games, beating world champions, she still could not beat the primitive rules at the local clubs, despite being captain of the team.

She said: "In the end I decided I could not do it any more - I was in a position where my team were unable to play their strongest player.

"To be told you can't play the sport you love because of your gender is ridiculous and upsetting.

"We should make it so these 'men-only' clubs are not allowed into the league if they are not going to let women play.

"I do not believe the clubs hold all the cards in making this outdated decision."

David Greene, chairman of Cross Hills & District Snooker League, said: "Unfortunately individual club rules, which aren't determined by the snooker league, can't be changed no matter how hard we have tried over the years.

"Every single season I personally wrote to the two clubs to ask the club committees to allow Rebecca to play in their club when Rebecca's team were due to play there and every single time this was refused.

"I have asked the clubs just to let Rebecca in to play her frame and then leave and suggested various ideas from reversing fixtures to even not allowing the clubs to put teams in that don't allow women in.

"Unfortunately [these] ideas have always been voted against by the league members.

"The two clubs that don't allow women in contribute four teams to the league, and without them the league would most likely fold as we are only a very small league.

"I would like to say that as the chairman of the league, the league officials and players were fully behind Rebecca playing in our league and we are extremely proud of her achievements as a professional."

Rebecca said: "We need more women in snooker, this is one sport where men and women could be on a level playing field.

"Women could be in the top 100 professionals, playing in the World Snooker Championship.

"The reason we don't is not through lack of ability but a lack of opportunity. There isn't the money or the sponsorship for women in snooker."

Another player, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, Helen-Claire O'Connor, does not have a problem with attending clubs but has experienced sexism first hand.

She said: "One in particular had tape on the floor where women couldn’t cross. I’ve also been reported to the league for beating a chap when I was eight months pregnant, apparently being beaten by one and half people wasn’t fair."

Reanne Evans, 11-times women's world snooker champion, said: "There are others on the women's tour who are not even allowed in to their local league.

"Others have said this was what happened in the 80s and 90s but not anymore. I think it's time Keighley moved with the times."

Keighley Cycling Club declined to comment and nobody at Grafton Club could be reached for comment.