Today those unlucky in love have apps and speed dating to find their perfect match. Things weren’t so simple during the reign of Elizabeth I, when marbles replaced online dating profiles.

The British and World Marbles Championship began when two young suitors competed for the affection of a legendary milk maiden named Joan. Almost 500 years on the tournament is still popular, but Joan is no longer the prize.

Joe meets Sam and Julia

Marbles aren’t just for collecting and discussing in forums, they’re also a ticket into Crawley’s lively social scene.


So, when we asked Joe to put his skills on the line he jumped at the chance. But this challenge is a tricky one even for an online megastar to grasp.


To assist we enlisted the help of Julia and Sam, both past masters in the noble art of ‘knuckling down.’

An introduction to marbles

With the help of his friends Sam and Julia,

Joe Charman sets off on his epic adventure to find out all about the ancient sport of marbles.

Training begins

If not properly used, left inside drawers, or simply ignored, marbles become slovenly and lethargic.

It’s an growing epidemic in the UK, and something Joe is keen to put right.

The final touches

It’s Joe’s last chance to train, and he’s realised that to succeed he’ll have to do more than confidently deliver his catch phrase.

Competition day

It’s finally time to see Joe put his new-found marbles skills to the test in the final part of his challenge.