Posted by Colin Brooksbank
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2012 will be the centenary year of the Heacham Bowls Club. The immaculately groomed green, surrounded by carrstone buildings and trees is understandably concidered by many to be the emerald in Heacham’s crown. It is a truly picturesque scene to see and is a joy to play on. Mentioning Heacham to some people I met in Cyprus, they replied. “Oh, tha’ts where that lovely bowling green is isn’t it?”
Bowling is an ancient game played all over the world in various forms. Equipment for bowling has been found in Egyptian tombs dating from 5,200 B.C. and is known to have been played in Italy at the time of Julius Ceasar. ‘Bowles’ was played in Britain as early as the eleventh century A.D. Henry III passed a law forbidding it and it was banned by Edward III, Richard II and Edward IV because it distracted the men from their archery practice.
The use of biased bowls is said to have begun in 1552, when the Duke of Suffolk split one of his bowls asunder during a game. Rushing into his mansion he sawed the ball from the bottom of the stair bannister thereby creating a flat on the side. Continuing his game he found that his new bowl could curve around other bowls that blocked the way to the target.
These early bowls were likely to have been fashioned from oak with heavier lignum vitae coming into use much later. This was followed in the early 20th century by the German vulcanite bowls, then the composites such as Henselite.
If you look on bowls as old mens marbles, just watch the competitions on T.V. and you will see that the young guns rule in a similar manner to those in snooker. The great David Bryant was given an old set of bowls by his father Reg. before he was seven and went on to become one of the icons of international bowling. Tony Alcock of Leicester, encouraged by his parents, began as a child rising to international stardom.
Whatever your age, why not come along and join the club, or just enjoy the odd afternoon in the sunshine as a casual member. As our membership is growing, we formed a third team in 2011.
Membership costs just £30 this year with the season begining on Saturday April 14th at 1pm.
This being our one hundredth anniversary, we are hoping to arrange a full calendar of activities and weekend games. The groundsmen have been working hard on the green and it is looking fabulous already.
Appropriate footwear is a must, but young or not so young, residents or visitors, experienced or novice, you can be sure of a warm welcome.