‘Young’ bowling club comes of age

Vic Graham, president of Abbotsford Bowling Club in Galashiels reflects on the club's 125 year history.
Vic Graham, president of Abbotsford Bowling Club in Galashiels reflects on the club's 125 year history.

ABBOTSFORD may be a mere babe among some of Scotland’s great and various bowling clubs, but what they lack in age they have certainly made up for in success over the last 125 years.

And the club plans to celebrate all these past glories at a birthday dinner at the Langlee Community Centre this weekend – an occasion which president Vic Graham has been looking forward to all season.

He told TheSouthern: “I was truly honoured to be asked to be president in our 125th year and am sure there will be many a good tale told on Saturday night.

“One of the best things about Abbotsford is its camaraderie and we pride ourselves on our welcome to the players old and new who step through the doors of our clubrooms.

“The club has a tremendous history in national and Borders bowling and I would like to think our members, who range from eight years to 92, will continue this tradition.”

Founded in 1886, Abbotsford is the youngest of the three Galashiels clubs. Originally sited on land owned by the Corporation of Galashiels, in what is now known as the public park, the club moved to its present location, at Eastlands Road, after entering into a feu contract with the then Laird of Galashiels, John Scott Esq, in October 1889.

Even in its early years, the club was keen to show that bowling was not just an old mans game and staged its first young players competition in 1921.

Since then, the club has prided itself on its ability to attract more youthful members and today has a cluster of local children participating.

Mr Graham added: “The youngsters are the future of our club and we have worked with the local schools to get the children along here and try out the game.

“There are quite a few who have stayed on and now give our older members a good run for their money.”

Not only has Abbotsford enjoyed great success on the local circuit, but they also have a remarkable record in the Scottish Championships over the years.

There are around 800 clubs throughout Scotland and it is therefore quite an achievement to become a Scottish champion.

But this honour has come to the club on five occasions – rinks winners in 1899 and 1941, pairs winners in 1933 and 1967 and senior fours winners in 1987. In addition, they have won the Border League three times, Borders Area Top Ten, Champion of Champions thrice, 14 wins in the Border Tournament, Braw Lads Pairs 12 times (since 1980) and the Border Burghs 12 times.

The ladies’ section to has had its fair share of success with four Border League victories, three Border pairs wins, two Border triples, a sSenior fours and borders singles, as well as two claiming two SWBA titles in senior fours and triples.

Of the club’s many great success stories one of the best must be that of the late, great Lawrence Wilson who joined the club as a young member and dedicated his life to the game. He won the club championship a record 13 times, won two Scottish titles and had three other appearances in the Scottish finals.

As well as toasting the great history of the club on Saturday night, members will also be celebrating more recent achievements and with the season drawing to a close the finals of the club tournaments took place recently.

The president’s final saw Brian Anderson beat Colin Hancock, while in the two-bowl final, new boy Tommy Newall won his second tournament of the year following a third-end shoot-out with Tommy Mann Jnr.

The Lawrence Wilson final saw Tom Mann Snr beat Tom Boyd and Jackie Ormiston lifted the ladies’ championship following a closely- fought tie with Catriona Reid.

Margaret Brown and Liz Waugh met Libby Simpson and Reid in the final of the ladies’ pairs. Again, this was close all the way through, with Brown and Waugh just edging the win.

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