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History of the Club

From the Loughborough Echo - 16 January 2019 

It was thanks to the enthusiasm of Percy Haywood and his father Thomas that a group of village men held a meeting in October 1932 to form a Bowls Club, elect a steering committee and find a site for the green.

The latter was decided after a search produced three options: Mr Smith’s field, waste land around the Doctors (presumably the Swan Court and Paddocks area) or Sir Cecil Pagets field on Landcroft Lane. It was decided that the Landcroft Lane site was most suitable and the club is still there today. Sir Cecil was duly elected as first club President and although he rejected the committee’s idea of using an old railway carriage as a pavilion, he donated a much appreciated two guineas towards a ‘proper’ wooden one!

Members worked hard to establish the green (at a cost of approximately £70 ) with the help of loans from fellow villagers including the Rector, Reverend Soames. They purchased eight sets of woods, which were available to hire at one shillings per hour of play. In May 1933 the official opening of the club took place.

Both ladies and gentlemen were encouraged to join, with an entrance fee of five shillings for both but subscription of another five shillings for the ladies and seven shillings and sixpence for the men. Both agreed to abide by the club rules which included not spitting on the green.

The club never had much cash but gradually over the years the facilities were gradually improved. Wooden huts have been repaired and extended. More recently changing and toilet facilities have been added, without losing the original ‘rustic charm ‘of the originals.The site had no water from the mains until the1960s so Percy Haywood transported water up to the site in milk churns in the early years. A tea tent was bought for £12 in 1935 and a large metal roller was also purchased so the men could roll the green before each match.

In 1938 the club joined the Loughborough Bowls Association and P. Haywood and T.Moody played for Leicestershire and George Lamb won the Haywood Cup. During the war years, games were reduced because of transport problems to some away matches but play continued whenever possible.

The members were all Sutton villagers in these early years and team lists were posted on gates in the village at Mr.Sketchley’s and Mr. Taylor’s houses to keep everyone informed. Weekend games were played but it was not until the seventies that the committee discussed whether some uniformity of dress would be desirable. Finance was still a problem, subscriptions were raised to £2.50 for the men and £1 for the ladies in 1972 but with a balance of only £1.1s 3D the reluctant decision was made that membership of the Leics. Bowling Association could not be afforded in 1973.

Rink fees of a shilling per game were introduced in the hope of keeping the club solvent and then as now, social events such as Whist Drives (in the Temperance Hall then, now in the village hall) were held to raise funds. The members have also helped at the Village Show and run jumble sales in the village hall. In 1977 £630 was loaned to upgrade the green and Mrs Hulbert and Mrs M. Wood co-ordinated fundraising activities. The club held an extraordinary meeting to discuss joining Loughborough Triples League in1977 .

Day trips in the summer became an annual event with members spending long weekends in Mundesley, Norfolk playing several local clubs and enjoying the Saturday night Fancy dress dinner and dance in the sea front hotel there. More recently holidays in Eastbourne and day trips have been excellent social events and fundraisers with our in-house coach driver and green keeper Graham Lester.

Throughout the club’s history members have celebrated significant anniversaries and have pulled together to keep it going. Those with practical skills have met weekly to keep everything in good shape whilst those with organisational skills have managed the teams and encouraged improving play, supported the bar and catering services and this still continues today. Inevitably there have been some larger than life characters who many in the village will remember, Percy Haywood, the founder member of course and George Lamb who was probably the most successful player at the club, playing for Leicestershire between 1950 and1980. He was county champion in1958 when they won the Middleton Cup.

Daisy Peberdy was a member for over 40 years. Originally there were no mixed matches but she played alongside Mrs Moore, Mrs. Corson and Mrs Dutton in the early days of the Corson Cup when three men’s rinks and one ladies rink competed. Latterly she became Vice-President of the club.

Cecil, ‘Cis ‘ Towens, who died last year was probably the longest playing member, joining in 1956 and holding most committee positions over the years. He was President in 1952 for the club’s Golden Jubilee , organising matches against England Bowls Association, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Loughborough and Long Eaton Associations.

Always an entertaining character, he nurtured the bowling skills of younger members and became a father figure to several of them.

From the 1980s and 1990s more and more games were played, the club enjoyed success in both League and Cup matches and members came from a wider area, notably Long Eaton, East Leake and West Bridgford. Several mid-week evenings were now spent in competitive play, the Loughborough men’s league, Monday’s and Thursday’s, the Mixed league on Wednesdays and the Corson Cup competition. Friendly games were played on Saturdays with the long held tradition of ‘ Bowls teas’, midgame, firmly established, along with the Presidents vote of thanks, a corny joke or two and the inevitable raffle. This pattern of play continues to the present day and Captain Michael Wright would like to increase membership once more, to ease the pressure on current members and introduce the younger members to competitive play in the league games.

Contact Rob Russell on 01509 674047 if you think you would like to join or would be interested in visiting the club during the coming season to socialise with current and past members.