It was not long before it rivalled and eventually overtook darts as a pub pastime.
In those early days snooker was the most widely played cue sport in social clubs and snooker halls.
This is no longer the case and 8ball is now played in many of Scotland's pubs and clubs as well as the rapidly increasing number of pool halls.
In the beginning there was some variation in the dimensions of pool tables and the shape and size of pockets. Today the standard external dimensions are 7ft X 4ft, giving a playing surface of 6ft X 3ft. This, with few exceptions, is the standard table size for the game wherever it is played.
The table covering has also undergone change. Initially a heavy, napped cloth of the kind found on snooker tables was commonplace. This was far from ideal and over time faster surfaces with less nap gained popularity. Even more recently coverings entirely without nap, often referred to as speed cloth, have been introduced. The advantage of napless cloth is that with reduced friction less force need be applied when striking a ball. It is generally thought that this can allow greater accuracy.
Table coverings retaining a light nap are however favoured by Scottish pool's governing body.
When 8ball was first introduced to Scotland the game was played with seven solid-coloured balls numbered 1 to 7 and seven striped balls numbered 9 to 15. Such ball sets are often referred to as 'spots and stripes' in the UK. They continue to be used in games such as American 9ball pool.
Even so, such balls are not a recent innovation and were used in the United States in casinos in the 1970s for the benefit of TV audiences.
Today object balls used in matches at league, national and international levels are invariably 2 inches in diameter.
The cue ball is slightly smaller. The white is 1/8th of an inch less in width to enable it alone to return to a player through the mechanism of coin-operated machines should it accidentally be potted during a frame.
As the popularity of pool grew the need was seen to establish a national governing body. The first national organisation, the Scottish National Pool Council, was formed in 1979. It was to become the present day Scottish Pool Association. The SPA 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.
Early in 2014 each of the Scottish Pool Association's affiliated pool leagues nominated a representative who provided detailed statistics relating to the composition and structure of their local league. Statistics were gathered as part of the process to create an on-line system which improved communication between those who run the Scottish Pool Association and the organisation's membership. Regrettably this initiative failed due to lack of support from SPA officials.
At that time it was found that the total number of registered players in SPA affiliated pool leagues exceeded 8,500 of which it was estimated that around 5,700 played league pool on a weekly basis.
There were over 40 SPA affiliated leagues and almost 700 league teams in 2014.
The SPA runs individual and team events for players of all abilities at venues throughout Scotland.
At international level Scotland is represented by gents, ladies, seniors, youths, juniors and players with disabilities.
In 2005 the SPA committed to blackball pool rules and Scottish teams and players have since achieved tremendous success internationally when competing against other World Pool Association affiliated nations.
Scotland was honoured, in 2014, to host the World Blackball Championships in Perth.
There has been a much-publicised decline in the number of public houses throughout the UK over the past 10 years or so. Scotland has been particularly hard hit. However the good news is that the reduction in pubs as venues has been offset by the increased numbers of pool halls and clubs which provide blackball pool facilities. The result of an SPA survey of Scottish pool players in 2013/2014 showed that almost 70% of players believe that this trend will continue and that pool halls and clubs will play an increasingly important role in the future of pool in Scotland.
A blackball rules poster has been prepared which provides comprehensive instructions for playing the game. It includes some guidance for referees.
The poster is suitable for printing as an 'A3' size document.
There's also a website which lists blackball rules in a format handy to view on mobile devices.