CLUB FOCUS: Hampden BC

There are so many brilliant bowling clubs within Scotland who make a great contribution to the sport and their community.

Club Focus lets clubs, in their own words, shine a light on their past, present and future.

A small club with a big history

Nestled in a pocket of Crosshill in the south side of Glasgow is Hampden Bowling Club. Established in 1905, we have a reputation for becoming one of the most forward thinking sports clubs in the country. Although this club has a relatively small membership, we have been rejuvenating through a variety of new initiatives to reawaken our existence to the community and wider public.

We have a wonderful reputation for being a warm and friendly venue for members and visitors. Our history is unique.

We have had a number of successful club initiatives and we continue to do things differently. Our Hampden 2020 project has a simple mission statement. Break the stigma associated with our club and sport, whilst creating a modern and flexible community sports hub for all to enjoy.

Successful Club Initiatives

The biggest change for our club has been fully utilising modern tools to get our message to the masses. We created our own email account, websiteFacebook page and Twitter account.

Very few clubs have all of this but it is invaluable for people to get in contact and stay informed of what is going on.

On the green we created “Give Bowls a Go Nights”. Every Monday evening through the summer we offer an open evening to come down and try out the game. We use the BowlsParc equipment to create a new and interesting way of getting people through the gate. We want to get rid of the image that this is just a game for the older generation - our ‘open to all from 5 to 95' approach is working well. This has enabled us to get on average five new members per year, which has kept our membership numbers stable. We don’t have a juniors section as yet but one for the future.

We have had success on the green with our ladies recently winning the Glasgow Triples and have been supported by Bowls Scotland as a development club for two years (thanks so much to Laura Kerr). The shirt and tie were consigned to the bin and we came up with a new club top. Most importantly our green has vastly improved as part of our five-year plan.

Our mission has also been to tell the world our story. BBC Radio Scotland made a 60-minute programme about the club and we have had articles featured in the Scotsman, Daily Mail, Courier and Evening Times. The Hampden Blog on our website covers the first 18 months of this journey. Its 93 blogs with 60,000 words documents the initiatives in detail, the highs, lows and lessons. A useful read for anyone rejuvenating a club.

The latest chapter in our story is our #Restore1stHampden project which will refurbish, renovate and bring it up to modern standards. We want to create a club template for a modern sports club, just like the 13 people who created Queens Park FC in 1867, who went onto build 1st Hampden and create the modern passing game of football on our site. This is now enjoyed by over 3.5 billion people around the world. That is all the inspiration we need to make sure that Hampden Bowling Club is here for another century. And last but not least, when you go home you can say: “I played at Hampden today”.

Hampden BC factfile

Gents' members: 25

Ladies' Members: 12

Social/Resident Members: 25

Hampden Bowling Club was originally the Polmadie Bowling Club. In 1904 they had to move as their land was reclaimed by Glasgow City Council for housing.

They leased a recently abandoned site nestled in a pocket of Crosshill. They purchased a pavilion from another site being demolished in the adjacent park. This pavilion had also previously been on this site.

Hampden Bowling Club told all visitors that this once abandoned site was the 1st Hampden Park. Historians didn’t believe them and scoffed at the claim. In 2017, Hampden Bowling Club secretary located a map finally proving the legend. Queens Park and Scotland played on its site from 1873 to 1884. This was the world’s first purposely international football ground, where the modern game of football was invented by Queens Park FC and the site set the template for all modern football stadia.

 

Many thanks to Graeme Brown of Hampden BC.

All images - Hampden BC. Do not reproduce without first seeking permission.

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