RETRO: Sheffield bowling club still together after 50 years

It all started in 1967.

Fuzz Jordan, our founder, said “How about a bowling club for people who aren’t fit but can drink?”, and here we are today, nearly 50 years on, and still enough of us to put up a good team; well at least a team.

In January 1968 the first ball was bowled by the then Sheffield University Tenpin Bowling Club (SUTBC) at the Mecca Bowl, Queens Road (may she rest in peace).

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My memory of those days is a little cloudy but I think there were 13 four-man teams, and it cost us 1/- (one shilling) a game to play.

At the end of the season we challenged Leeds University to a match.

They were national champions that year. We hammered them at Leeds on the 30/6/68 and they wouldn’t speak to us after the match, so we went to the bar. This was the start of what was to be a successful five years, and many bars.

We joined the University and Colleges Ten-Pin Bowling Association (UCTBA) league for the 1968/69 season and did very well, qualifying for the quarter finals. Our zone included Birmingham, Cambridge, Leicester, Nottingham and Warwick.

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The club was by then over 200 members strong. Each week Queen’s Road Bowl had 30 5-man teams bowling and it was the biggest league in the country at any level of competition. It was also one of the largest University Sports Teams at Sheffield University.

The only sad thing that year was that the club treasurer, Chris Hay, died in a pot-holing accident. However, we have his memory, as he designed our bright yellow team bowling shirts (which we still try to wear today).

In 1969/70 we had the strongest overall university team ever produced by any university (three five-man teams and one five-ladies team).

We won the Zone and the National Championships that year. We included Sheffield Polytechnic students in the club too, and changed our name to the Sheffield Students Ten-Pin Bowling Club (SSTBC).

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By 1970/71 we had started challenging some non-student teams to improve our performance. We played the RAF at Scampton four times and beat them twice. On one occasion, Bobby Boulton and Adrian Blacker wandered off to look at the planes, got arrested, and Bobby made the mistake of saying he was Irish...

Once again we were the Zone Winners and National Champions. We also won the Birmingham Marathon, the UAU Championships, and our ladies team was runner-up in the WIVAB Championships. Mif Smith and Col Sumner were also selected to represent the UAU.

It was the year that we said goodbye to Queen’s Road Bowl, which had closed down.

So, for 1971/72 we moved to Firth Park Bowl and a first in Student Bowling, - we were sponsored for the whole season by Guinness. The money helped us pay for buses every Wednesday from the Union to Firth Park, and helped us keep up full membership. Guinness also sponsored a tournament.

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We again won our Zone and became the first University to win the National Championships three years in a row. We were runners-up in the UAU Championships and had two more bowlers picked to represent the UAU, - Dave Antcliffe and Mif Smith.

1972/73 was our most memorable year in terms of social events. We played teams from France and America. We went to France in January ‘73 thanks to the support of Dave Horsfall (the student’s union sports manager) and played the University of Lille. We lost by 89 pins (12,993 - 12,904) but only due to the fact that Alan Metcalf and Ray Smith got lost for over 12 hours and arrived after we had finished the first match (maybe due to a small intake of French liquid).