Lenzie BC Club Story
As we celebrate the start of the 2023 bowling season we have been encouraging clubs to send in their opening day pictures and let us know their plans for the upcoming season. One club who has many plans for the season ahead is Lenzie BC in East Dunbartonshire, who celebrate the clubs’ 150th Anniversary this season. We spoke to Ronnie Houston who gave us some information on the history of the club and an overview of their plans to celebrate their 2023 milestone.
A 150-year History
In 1873, the relatively recently established railway junction village of Lenzie was slowly starting to develop, but, as some properties were proving slow to sell or let out, the developers decided that the amenity of a Bowling Club on their doorstep would be a suitable attraction for buyers and tenants.
And so, after a typical delay of a couple of weeks because of poor weather, the Lenzie green was officially opened on 6th September 1873.
The first competitive games started in 1875 with a match between North Lenzie v. South Lenzie each side represented by four rinks. The band of the 7th Stirlingshire Rifle Volunteers played music during the contest and it was said that “considerable interest was taken in the game by a large number of ladies and gentlemen who assembled to witness the play. After a keen contest of two hours, South Lenzie was found to be victorious”. This competition stood the test of time, and was still being contested into the 1960’s.
1876 saw the first recorded friendly match against Kirkintilloch, a fixture the club still enjoys today. Despite the green being described as being in excellent condition, the four Lenzie rinks lost by 40 shots.
It was not until 1899 that the Club got itself into a sound financial position, after holding a three-day Grand Bazaar in the Fine Art Galleries at 175 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, which raised sufficient cash to allow the purchase of all land and premises in full, as well as development improvements to the Bowl House and further improvements to the green.
As well as providing a social and sporting facility, over the years the Clubhouse was regularly used for political meetings for all Parties and community groups, as well as being the Polling Station for the area up until 1986. During WWII, the Club was used for lectures and demonstrations by the Air Raid Wardens and was a designated First Aid Point that would be manned during any air attack.
The Club has not been without success on the bowling front over the years, winning the Gents Scottish Pairs title in 1936 (J. Campbell and Dr. A.J. Smith) and in 1964 (Ludovic Lang and Jimmy Weir), the latter Pair narrowly losing out on a British Isles title, to Northern Ireland. A further national competition, The Ballantyne Bowl, a rinks competition for bowlers aged under 45 years, was won by the Club in 1981.
Other notable performances were in 1969, when David Murray reached the SBA. Singles final, losing out to internationalist, Bob Motroni, and, in the same year, Mrs. Doris Stanley reached the semi-finals of the SWBA Singles.
More recently, in 2006, Drew Cunningham reached the semi-final of the SBA Under-25s Singles, following that up by reaching the Quarter Finals of the SBA Singles, in 2008. In 2014, Gavin Ansari reached the semi-final of the Bowls Scotland Super Series Singles after defeating Paul Foster in the previous round, only then to lose out to Darren Burnett. His reward was to represent Scotland in the 2015 World Cup in Warilla, New South Wales. Gavin had in fact seen success at a national level previously, when in 2004, five years after the establishment of a Youth Section for 10-16 year-olds, he was part of the team, alongside Sandy Milne and Scott Cunningham, that won the SYBA National Triples.
At the other end of the age range, and not to be outdone, in 2018, our Over 55s Fours had some success in the Bowls Scotland competition, with Gordon Baird, George Cuthbert, Jim Coats and Jim Caskie gaining Bronze medals after reaching the semi-final stage.
Since 1960, the Club has been represented by 30 members at County level, 18 members at Junior County level (under 35 and under 25), won the Dumbartonshire County Cup 5 times, and won 9 other County Titles, from representation in 26 County Finals.
The Club also competes in the Kirkintilloch & District Association league and cup competitions, where a good share of success has been seen over the years, and also the Kelvin and Allander Association Seniors League, which the Club won for the first time in 2022.
Lenzie BC have always worked hard to cater for members of all ages and abilities, both on and off the green. Along with maintaining the quality of their green, attracting new members has always been at the forefront of the club’s thinking.
A current membership role of 204 persons is testament to that way of thinking. There is a great spirit of fellowship to enjoy as many fun games as serious ones, including one annual competition in fancy dress.
2023, a year to celebrate
Lenzie BC now look forward to a year of celebrating their 150th Anniversary. The first celebration was a pre-season celebration Dinner Dance, which was attended by nearly 190 members.
The club’s Opening Day on Saturday 15th April included presentations to those admitted to Membership 50 years ago in 1973, unfurling of new Club Flag and unveiling of an externally mounted Club Crest. Commemorative mementoes were also obtained for distribution to members. Lenzie have been honored by the Associations they are affiliated to, who have granted the hosting of their final stage matches on their green, and the club are grateful to their Friendly Match opponents, who have all agreed that Lenzie will host all matches as home games during their celebration year.
Above all, everyone at the club intends to enjoy themselves and celebrate with sponsors, members and hopefully some future members, at a “Try Bowls” Gala Day in May to introduce more people to the game.
Bowls Scotland wishes the members and wider community all the best for this landmark 2023 season and look forward to seeing and hearing updates as the season progresses, thanks to Ronnie Houston, Alan Laurie and George Deacon for sharing this story of the club’s history with us.