A History Lesson - by Larry Eforgan

At the head quarters 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 Michmacher, 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 turn out of 40 new members. Ten of those original members are still with the club which now boasts over 100. 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 two, very sadly, passed away. Those two members were held in such high regard as good and decent people as well as highly skilled players that both have had tournaments named in their honour. Lionel Singer and Gerry Streager will always be remembered.

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 Michmacher 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 clubs new home was the outcome. Since that surprising night the members have embraced ‘Kings’ with enthusiasm. State of the art facilities and a very warm welcome every Thursday will, I’m sure, always be a big part of the future, as well as the history, of - Victoria Maccabi Snooker Club.