Memories of Messingham Bowls Club
by Andy Clark
A player I remember at the club was William Ellerker who had been the manager of the original Co-op in the village, (until recently Dacefords furniture shop). He struggled to bowl his woods without dropping them, but somehow they always seemed to roll up to the pot. He once told me that he felt privileged to have lived long enough to see the first powered flight and a man land on the moon. He had been a member of the Royal Flying Corps in his younger days.
One man who taught me a lot about bowling was a gent called Lou Wynn who had played bowls at the highest level. I believe that he had been an England Pairs winner. He didn’t play in the team, but came to the pavilion in an afternoon with his sandwiches and played if he wanted to and watched if he didn’t. There were many nights when we had no matches, so several of us used to play roving jack, it was a tanner to participate and whoever reached 11 shots first won. It was very competitive as whoever got closer to the magic number became the target to knock off the pot, Gig Reeder being one of the best firing skips I have played with, used to remove your woods just when you thought you might win. We have played until dark some nights and had to use car headlights to illuminate the green, all that for 2½ pence!
Lou advised me to play with the largest woods I could hold, he had some that were 5 1/8 inch (size 7 today) and I could hold these, but by then the largest that I could buy were 5 1/16th inch woods. Today you can buy woods of the same size with different weights. If you wanted heavy woods then, they had to be big ones.
He told me to never feel sorry for the opposition, if you are winning keep on going. He had relented in one competitive game when leading 19 shots to nil. He let the opponent win the jack and lost 19 -21 much to his disgust.
Another of his tips which I still do is when sending the jack, have your wood in the other hand , stay on the mat and watch the track the jack takes, you can see if there is any slope on the rink and work out where to bowl your wood to.
Some of the opposition left lasting memories with me, I can remember seeing some Brigg Town players turning up to play at Messingham in a gold coloured Rolls Royce. I’ve not seen that ever again in my playing career.
The coldest venue we played at was the green at Keadby in the grounds of the old power station, it was on the east side of the large building and never in the sun in the evening and consequently it was very cold when the wind was blowing off the river. The heaviest green was always the Gainsborough Town green behind the Drovers Call pub. The worst rink was at the original Epworth green where rink 1 has so much slope on it that if you bowled on the hand nearest the flower bed the wood just fell off the green into the flowers, the wrong bias was the only way of getting anywhere near!
Prior to the new pavilion being built and the extension being put on the front of the Bowls pavilion there was room to drive past the front between the green and the building, there was also nearly enough space to drive around the back as the fence was further away from the pavilion. This obviously confused one visiting driver as he went neither in front or behind, but hit the end of the pavilion with his car. Fortunately no damage or injury was sustained but the occupants of the pavilion were a little concerned!