December 8 2013 Latest news:
Dave Evans, Bowls correspondent
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Bowls association to fold
East Ham & District Bowls Association president Cliff Dye admitted that finals day in Plashet Park on Sunday was a sad occasion with the club confirming their decision to fold.
Dye presided over 15 clubs when he stepped into the post in 1999, but numbers have steadily dwindled over the years.
And he said: “Sadly, the association is going down to four clubs next year.
“We had a meeting in the summer to discuss our future and it was agreed we could not run with just four clubs, so unfortunately it is folding and this is our last-ever finals day.”
It was an emotional day for Dye as well as for the 90-year-old Bob Jarrold, who received one of the association’s silver cups as a memento of his long service to the association over the years.
Dye said: “There is a great history to the association. We can trace it back to 1920 and the mayor of Newham has been patron for all these years.
“We have had some great times over the years. There used to be a lot more clubs, but due to amalgamations and folding due to lack of numbers it is no longer sustainable. It is still mainly elderly people who are playing bowls and I get the impression that more and more people are retiring and moving out of London.
“It is good news for the bowls clubs of Kent and Essex, but I’m afraid that clubs round here are losing out because of it.”
One club bucking that trend is Plashet Park, where Dye is also the president.
They have recruited a host of Indian players who have swelled membership and given the club a new lease of life. Dye believes that this is the way forward for all clubs in the area if they are to survive.
He added: “We’ve opened our doors to the community and the community around here are very diverse.
“We now have a number of Indian bowlers and they have near enough saved the club. They are also good, friendly men and they have also become good bowlers.
“Every club should try and follow our lead. You’ve got to get your community involved and open the doors to everybody. Sport breaks down barriers – that the beauty of it – and bowls is no exception.”
So what of the future for the four clubs left in the association?
“Barking is closing, but I am pleased to say the four clubs left are carrying on,” he said.
“Plashet Park, Central Park and North Greenwich are all going into the Ilford & District League, while Phoenix from north Woolwich are going into the Lee Valley League.”
It was a fitting end to the association on Sunday with lots of spectators and some excellent food to be sampled.
“It has been successful,” said Dye. “The support has been great, better than I expected and more than we catered for. It has been an emotional day, but it was a great way to come to a close.”