Sheffield's oldest bowls clubs square off for 150th anniversary clash

Paul Harvey, Hallam president, and Mick Poore, Nether Edge president, with the trophy (Chris Etchells)
Paul Harvey, Hallam president, and Mick Poore, Nether Edge president, with the trophy (Chris Etchells)
0
Have your say

Sheffield’s two oldest bowling clubs rolled back the years to celebrate 150 years of the sport in Nether Edge.

Players donned Victorian dress to mark the milestone as Nether Edge Bowling Club beat Hallam Proprietary Bowling Club 7-3 on the bank holiday Monday.

Bowlers in action in their Victorian outfits (Chris Etchells)

Bowlers in action in their Victorian outfits (Chris Etchells)

The contest was the centrepiece of a series of events being held to commemorate a century-and-a-half since Nether Edge Bowling Club was founded.

The club in Nether Edge Road is holding an open day this Sunday (May 7), from 1pm till 5pm, with coaching and taster sessions to introduce newcomers to crown green bowls.

Club member John Goodwin has written a new history of the club, while artists within the club have created an anniversary painting of the green and club building, with each contributing a different square to the artwork.

Committee member Brenda Skinner said: “It’s been a great day and everyone’s really got into the spirit, with the ladies in their hats and the men wearing braces and caps.

Bowlers dressed in their Victorian finery to mark the 150th anniversary (Chris Etchells)

Bowlers dressed in their Victorian finery to mark the 150th anniversary (Chris Etchells)

“Bowling’s becoming more and more popular, and we’d encourage any who hasn’t tried it to give it a go at our open day.”

John Nelson, the club’s bowling secretary, said it began life on May 1, 1867 as a ‘Gentleman’s Club’ and it was not until 1959 that women were allowed to play the game there.

But he said the club eventually appointed its first female president in 2005, and today women play an important role on and off the green.

The club had expanded over the years, with additions including a billiards and snooker room where former world champion Steve Davis and perennial runner-up Jimmy White have played ahead of their Crucible campaigns.

Brenda Skinner prepares to bowl (Chris Etchells)

Brenda Skinner prepares to bowl (Chris Etchells)

Today, the club has 189 members and runs 25 teams in three separate bowling leagues as well as competing in snooker leagues.

Nether Edge Bowling Club is one of 45 bowls clubs in Sheffield, and the city is home to around 1,500 registered players of what Mr Nelson describes as a ‘deceptively vigorous’ game.

Mr Nelson said the club’s membership was growing each year, with the sport’s accessibility and friendly reputation attracting new bowlers all the time.

“I think the sport’s growing in popularity because bowls clubs tend to be welcoming places and although it’s a very skilful game it’s not that difficult to master and once you get going it’s quite addictive,” he said.

Sue Hayes and Vic Pieprzak were hoping their skills were as sharp as their outfits on the bowling green.

Sue Hayes and Vic Pieprzak were hoping their skills were as sharp as their outfits on the bowling green.