“A POTTED HISTORY & SOME ALTERNATIVES”(April 13, 2020)
"A Potted History & Some Alternatives"
With the coronavirus lockdown continuing all professional and recreational sport has been impacted. With no current bowls to write about we must follow the lead of the bereft live sports channels and dig into the archives! And so back to the beginning…
Autumn 1929 to Spring 1930 – new ornamental gardens lying 1.25 miles west of the pier are laid out and christened Marine Gardens. In addition to a café, walled garden and pond there is a bowls green.
October 1930 – keen local bowlers come together and form a club to be based at the new gardens. No time wasted on a clever name and so Marine Gardens Bowling Club comes into being.
April 1931 – the new green is ceremonially opened; a jack and the first bowls are delivered by the Mayor – Alderman H F Carmichael. The club captain is George Stracey who in quiet moments off the green designs the club’s distinctive badge featuring Sussex Martlets, fish and a horn of plenty. He also finds time to create the town’s inaugural inter-club competition; the founding clubs being West Tarring, Homefield Park, Beach House Park and of course Marine Gardens.
1931 – the club champion is Mr H C Clarke and Mr J Farquaharson-Whyte begins a terrific stint as President, serving in that role until 1943. At this stage the club is for men only; the common situation and one replicated elsewhere in town.
2001 – a wise move is taken to admit women as playing members and so Marine Gardens becomes the first fully mixed club in town. Many women play elsewhere, but either as separate sections within a club or indeed as a wholly independent club.
2006 – the clubhouse is extended to the east and west; creating toilet and changing facilities for men and women. This allows the main clubroom to be used for match-day teas & social events throughout the year. These includes quizzes, Beetle drives, Christmas parties and our very own version of “Blankety- Blank” run by the incomparable Mr Shaun Coppard. It makes little sense sober but becomes almost indecently fun after a glass of something. Or several.
2015 – along with the other clubs in town Marine Gardens becomes responsible for the sale of season tickets to members and for the hire of rinks to the public.
2017 – the club wins the Brodie Tray; a competition initially introduced as a league for bowlers who weren’t getting into their club’s Stracey side.
2018 – the club wins division three of the West Sussex League and are promoted as champions. The feel-good glow doesn’t last too long; despite best efforts the team is relegated the following season.
2020 – 4 March and the club assumes responsibility for maintenance of the green, via a private contractor. This means the club can set fees for visiting teams, the public and its own members. All monies are retained rather than the council taking the lion’s share. However, with the fight against COVID-19 rightly dominating the 2020 season will be truncated.
There will be no bowling at Marine Gardens until 1 June and only then if the lockdown measures have been officially eased. A sad picture and one replicated at bowls clubs across the town. Hopefully, we can still welcome members and prospective new players later in the summer. To arrange a free taster session; all equipment provided, please call club coach Terry Urben on 01903 700662.
This correspondent is obviously biased and believes Marine Gardens is a great place to play bowls. However, it should be noted that other clubs are available, and all would love to hear from potential new recruits.
The open days planned by many for April or May have fallen by the wayside. However, adverts are still appearing in local publications and on the respective websites of each club. Please see below details of the outdoor clubs in town; they are all mixed.
Worthing Bowls Club – formed in 1907 and located in Beach House Park. Four greens are maintained by the council; possibly going down to two. The club has its own bar and changing facilities. Postcode BN11 2DB.
Homefield Park BC – formed in 1927 and originally located in the park of that name; relocated to Beach House Park in 1971 when an extension to Worthing Hospital covered their original green. They share the park with their long-standing neighbours Worthing BC. Postcode BN11 2DB.
Marine Gardens BC – formed in 1930 and located in the gardens of that name. Privately maintained green, excellent café adjacent to the club, stacks of free on-street parking. Postcode BN11 5EF.
Tarring Priory BC – formed in 1937 and based at Church Green, in the shadow of St Andrews church. Council maintained green; changing facilities and private bar. Postcode BN13 1HQ.
Worthing Pavilion BC – formed 1948 and located in Pavilion Road. The only private members club owning its greens and clubhouse. Two outdoor greens and six rinks indoors, making it the only place you can bowl all year round. Postcode BN14 7EQ.
Goring Manor BC – formed in 2015 from the merger of two much older clubs; Field Place and West Tarring. Located in Field Place and playing on a green maintained by South Downs Leisure Trust. Postcode BN13 1HQ
Regardless of which club they represent it is fair to say that most bowlers have a finely-honed capacity for moaning! The weather is too hot, too cold, or of course just wet. Greens can be too slow; or “heavy” in bowls-speak; occasionally even too fast. Opponents, while always charming, can be too strong; the classic “loaded rink” in bowls-speak, or simply having more than their share of good fortune.
If nothing else the delayed season of 2020, with all that is happening elsewhere, will lend the correct perspective to the trifling points above. When we do get out there, I hope that all bowlers will simply relish the joy of playing a great sport, in the company of old and new friends.
Terry Urben - Press Officer