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Burpham Bowling Club Blows Covid Blues Away In 30th Anniversary Year

Published on: 8 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 8 Sep, 2020

Ian Mackrell from Burpham Bowling Club reports on what has been a somewhat different but truly eventful year for its members

With many clubs from all sports haemorrhaging members and being unable to play sport, Burpham Bowling Club has defied the odds in this, its 30th anniversary year.

Current membership still exceeds 100 and that’s without any recruitment campaign these past two years.

Our club’s finals weekend over September 4, 5 and 6 saw new member Nick Anderson as a future star at Burpham. A Hants county player, living in Liss, he was not only crowned Men’s Singles champion, but featured in all finals he had entered.

And what a thrilling final both he, and his opponent, defending champion Simon Fillary, provided to the absorbed crowd of spectators.

Nick Anderson receiving his trophy.

Carolyn Hart, the record five times defending champion, with the Ladie’s Singles cup, presented by club president Margaret Liley.

When the government announced a restricted re-opening of lawn bowls club captain Alan Mogg immediately arranged for play to start on May 27, under a strict Covid protocol.

He and his wife Glenda organised a system that prevails to this day – and so successful that some 80% of playing members have played these past three months, many several times a week.

In fact, as Alan stated: “I’ve been swamped by members keen to play. I’ve had to ration play to some. We’re playing seven days a week, on three rinks only, leaving an empty rink in between for social distancing. There are four two- hour slots daily, permitting 90 minutes play per slot and 15 minutes each to leave the facility and for the next booked rink to set-up play.”

All equipment is disinfected after each 90 minutes play. No equipment is shared, unless players are from the same household. “Anyone breaching these rules will immediately have to leave the green,” said Alan Mogg.

Guildford Borough Council’s parks team had kept the green in magnificent condition. Thanks to them, and the lovely weather that immediately followed, competition secretary Barry Macbeth announced the annual club competitions would take place.

Alan Mogg (right) and Barry Macbeth before start of play on September 6.

Well, the excitement this announcement generated, and with the recently introduced Aussie Pairs format in particular, participation was way beyond Barry’s wildest imagination.

Barry said: “Organising, then scheduling competitions is difficult at the best of times, but needing to adhere to strict Covid protocols too has necessitated some creativity, to put it mildly.”

And to boot, the finals weekend had to be spread over three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so that we conformed to the Bowls England Covid protocols.

The format of the finals weekend was announced simultaneously with acting president Geoff Sheldon informing members about the building conversion project that has been in planning for four years.

Completely against the odds, our club has managed to raise nearly £100,000 much of it this year, much through members’ donations. A generous £25,000 was also committed by Guildford Borough Council. The money raised will transform the clubs’ facilities. Geoff told members: “This is a brilliant demonstration of your support for the club.”

A longer, 25-year lease, with substantially enlarged premises, has been agreed with Guildford Borough Council. The building’s interior will be gutted and reconfigured to suit the needs of the club both now, and for the foreseeable future. Work will begin this winter and be ready well before the start of the next outdoor season.

Guildford Borough Council’s Green Flag and Burpham’s club flag grace Sutherland Memorial Park.

The proposed 30th anniversary celebrations, including hosting the Chelsea Pensioners Bowling Club for a major all-day tournament, has been post-phoned until next year. We’re by far the largest bowling club in the area, and the new upgraded facility will enable the club to meet both its aspirational sporting targets but also increase still further its membership.

The weather for the finals weekend was mixed. On Friday it was a little cool and cloudy, but no rain. Play started at 2pm. Wendy Sheldon and Jane Regan won the Ladies’ Pairs, with Nick Anderson and Bob Hughes winning the Men’s Pairs.

The following day three competitions were decided. In the Mixed Pairs, in front of enthusiastic spectators, Simon Fillary and Jane Regan were crowned Mixed Pairs champions. A good win by Cheryl Messenger secured the Novices Singles to the delight of all present, and our competitions secretary Barry Macbeth the Crossman Plate.

Keith Crossman, after whom the competition is named and founder member of the club, very kindly left the club a bequest in his will. The money has been invested in the building project, which we know he would have strongly supported.

The highlight of the weekend, Sunday, saw partly sunny weather, although at times chilly as dark clouds threatened. It draw another crowd of excited spectators, eager to witness the crowning of the Men’s and Ladies’ singles’ winners.

Spectators enjoy the play.

Social distancing required us to locate spectators around the green.

Both matches started before lunch, at 11am, to enable two further finals to be completed in the afternoon.

All matches turned out to be very absorbing, but the Men’s Singles and the Handicap Singles proved the most absorbing.

For many, though, the Aussie Pairs final, a competition only introduced last season, was from a spectator perspective, very interesting, even if not all understood fully the rules of the competition!  It’s a pairs competition where players play 2-4-2 bowls. There’s a lot of walking up and down the green, increasing the opportunity of tactics to come into play.

Young married couple Sarah and Simon Fillary with the Aussie Pairs trophy.

Andy Jones won the Handicap Singles after an enormous battle with Bob Hughes.

The season hasn’t yet ended at Burpham though – casual play will continue until the end of the month. In the meantime, the social committee is working hard to present a programme throughout the winter.

Adrienne Hughes, who chairs the social committee, said: “We’ll have to hire the hall next door during our rebuilding project, but that won’t stop the programme being curtailed at all. In fact, there is a socially distanced, outdoor, coffee morning this Thursday at 10.30am.”

Burpham Bowling Club is up and running, is going from strength to strength, and will be delighted to welcome new members, playing or social.

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