Victoria Maccabi Snooker Club

The home of Jewish Cue Sports

est 1991

Club History - by Larry Eforgan

At the headquarters of Victoria Maccabi on the 21st Feb. 1991 a meeting was held with a view to forming a Snooker and Eightball club within the Maccabi family of sporting clubs. Agreement between those assembled was reached on the formation of a committee and a set of rules for the club. Malcolm Gilbert was elected President and joining him on that first board were Adam Beitner as Vice President, Daniel Micmacher, Natanya Kedgley, John Kamer, Michelle Barnoy, Paul Jason and Simon Pitt.

It was proposed that the club should play at the newly opened venue of Top Level Billiards on Glenhuntly Rd. and an advertisement was placed in the Jewish News to that effect. It was decided that February 28 was to be the first night and the club was duly formed with a turnout of 40 new members. Ten of those original members were still with the club which then boasted over 100 after its third move in 2005. From little acorns mighty oaks do grow. In that first year, with the facilities at Top Level limited to four ¾ sized tables and three full sized tables, full utilisation had to be made of those facilities, so three rounds of snooker were played each Thursday.

It was decided very quickly by the committee, after seeing the talent available, to enter a team in the Victorian Billiards & Snooker Association Willis Snooker Pennant Competition, to test the newly formed Victoria Maccabi Snooker Club against the other snooker clubs playing in and around Melbourne. That 1st 4 man 'C' grade team comprised Stan Karpel as captain, Tony Fridman as the No. 1 player and three other very strong players, Larry Eforgan, Aaron Kalinski and Lionel Singer vying for the other two places. In fact, the first five places in the inaugural club championship were filled by Stan Karpel as Champion, Tony Fridman in second place, Aaron Kalinski in third, with Larry Eforgan and Lionel Singer placed fourth and fifth. Immediate success was forthcoming with a semi-final berth, and a place in the final only denied them by a very strong R.A.C.V. team prevailing 7-6 on the night.

Since that first disappointment V.M.S.C. has gone on to win, in only 15 years, 7 premiership flags and 7 finalist flags, beating the record of many Melbourne clubs with histories counted in several decades.

That first year the inaugural Victorian Jewish Open Snooker and Eightball Tournament was held under the auspices of the club and was duly won by Tony Fridman in Snooker and Shane Binstock in Eightball. This tournament proved to be highly successful both in prestige and by providing the club with new members. It has also attracted sponsorship, with prize money and magnificent trophies, and is without doubt one of the highlights of the year. It was decided that the Open should be the last of event of the V.M.S.C. year and a closed season over the months of December, January and February was also proposed. After such a successful and eventful year, demand for membership meant that the club had, in one year, outgrown the limited facilities of Top Level Billiards and a new home for the club was found at Princes Entertainment Centre in Carnegie.

Thirteen very successful years were the outcome of the move to 'Princes'. The membership grew and the finances of the club were established, the sponsorship grew with Coca Cola coming on board and the trophies got better and better, and harder and harder to win. Players came and went over the years but very few because of dissatisfaction with the club, some left for personal reasons and others sadly passed away.

Victoria Maccabi Snooker Club is now one of the most successful clubs of the Australian Maccabi movement and was the recipient of the first Maccabi Incorporated 'Club of the Year' award in 2003. The club had again outgrown its home at Princes Entertainment Centre due to a refusal by the owners to allow the club any more tables on a Thursday night, but what could be done. An impossible dream of Mal and others in the club was to have its own venue, but the limited finances always held them back. Mal Gilbert got together with his brother in law and founder committee member, Daniel Micmacher and Val Giber, one of the original partners in 'Princes' and a long-time supporter of the club, to see what could be done.

One cold and dark Thursday in June 2005 members were directed, not into Princes to play, but on to two buses for a mystery tour. A pleasant drive to Dingley village ensued and an amazed arrival at Kings Entertainment Complex and the club's new home was the outcome.

For quite a few years Kings proved to be a magnificent venue for most of the membership with very few losses due to the travel involved in reaching the outlying district of Dingley, a suburb quite far away from where the majority of the membership were domiciled. Facilities, as mentioned, were second to none in the early days of Kings but were sadly allowed to deteriorate in its latter years after the Victorian smoking ban came into force which decimated the patronage by the general public and forced the owners to cut many corners in an effort to keep the venue running and also make it worthwhile as a business at the same time. This was sadly not to be and in 2015 Kings closed its doors for the last time.

With the demise of Kings, Mal Gilbert decided that his position as president had become untenable and resigned both his position and his membership, whereupon and with unanimous support Adam Beitner took up the reins. Adam has presided over a turbulent period in the club's history but has never given up on preserving and maintaining its viability and the moves from the defunct Kings to Bentleigh and Eddies Pool Room, then later to Bentleigh and Cue 8 Bar and so to Hampton and Freccia Azzura Club in 2020 after Covid had wreaked its havoc upon the world and the Maccabi Snooker Club, were just a few of his many trials. Finally, to just the Hampton RSL in 2023 when the membership of the 8 ball section of the club was reduced to zero.

Adam was not alone and the members who remained loyal were in the main supportive and here special mention must go to our new vice-president Lenny Winestone who also gives unstintingly and generously with his time and effort to ensure the club continues to provide facilities and competition for its remaining 24 members.

More honours have been won by Maccabi teams since the move to Bentleigh and beyond and it is confidently held that these will not be ones signalling the end of our journey and that the Maccabi Snooker Club will always be a part of the Melbourne community and one to be feared and respected in the competitions we espouse.