Drysdale Bowling Club

The Drysdale Bowling & Croquet Club – Our History
The land for the Drysdale Bowling and Croquet Club was bought in 1943 at a cost of 100 pounds. This was financed by Jim Henderson, Harold Bennett, C. Halliday & A Filbay.

The club was formed and officially opened on 2nd October 1948 and become Affiliated with the GDBA & RVBA (region now GBR) in the same year.

Drysdale Bowling and Croquet Club first office bearers included:

President: J. Whitcombe

Ladies President: Elsie Rodgers

Secretary: R. Clarke

Ladies Secretary: Ada Mannix

Treasurer: M. Dossett

The First Club Champions were:

Men: R. Withcombe

Ladies: F. Sanderson

The land was then handed to the Bellarine shire in 1952.

The clubhouse was a two room cottage which was moved to site and the western end had an open area with a thatched roof used for afternoon tea and so forth. The club was extended when a dining room was added in 1956 to the eastern side, and in 1965 the men’s room replaced the open area.

A new clubhouse was erected in 1989 mainly due to the efforts & the money raised by Norma Mortimer, with the work done by A.E. Evans, E.J. Silver, S. Hughes and assisted by H.M. Peel, M.E.R. Foord and many other helpers.

The new clubhouse was opened on 7th January 1989 by the RVBA president Bob Poulton.

Originally the club had two greens, one green having seven rinks and the other having five rinks; with the five rink green being used by the croquet section.

In 1968 the five rink green was extended to seven rinks and the croquet greens were established.

The club does not own all of the land but has title for most of the Number One green which was obtained by adverse possession.

On the 7th October 2016 the clubhouse was named “The Norma Mortimer Clubhouse” to honour Norma Mortimer’s commitment, in terms of the time, effort & financial input she has given the club over many years.

by V. McLennan

Bob Clarke. Did a tiny shiver of fear come over you at the reading of that name? If so the chances are very high that you –
a. are over 70 years of age
b. lived in the Drysdale area during 1940’s – 50’s
c. had some propensity as a youth to be a little troublesome
d. or maybe you are just one of the many law abiding townsfolk who remember “Spot”, Bob’s dog whose reputation as a nasty tempered mutt eventually saw him come to a sticky end. (Perhaps Kel can enlighten us on the details)

All this preamble is to introduce you to the commencement of the Drysdale Bowling Club which will celebrate its 70th year in October 2018.

The aforementioned Mr. R. (Bob) Clarke, the local Policeman, addressed a meeting of 27 gentlemen in the Town Assembly Hall (now the Scout Hall) on 10th July, 1944. This meeting was instigated by the Town Development League to gauge public interest in the formation of a Bowling Club and this League gave the promise of approximately “70 citizens of the District as prospective members”.

The inaugural Office bearers were Mr. George Wisbey, a well-known local identity, as President, Mr. C. Burnett, the Postmaster as Secretary and Mr. R. Clarke as Treasurer.

The Town Development League had purchased a block of land which could be made available as the site for a Bowling Club and other local identities, Messrs. B. Judd, C. Holliday, R. Whitcombe and J. Henderson offered as much adjoining land as was necessary to make a 6 rink green.

Over the next four years much work was undertaken by many members of the community to bring this vision to reality. Not the least of this work was the purchase and installation of a barbed wire fence around the perimeter to prevent stock from wandering on to the area.

While infrequent and sporadic meeting were held during 1945 and 1948, much manual labour saw the beginnings of the Bowling Club and rinks take shape. A small shed was purchased for use as a Club house and another small shed was erected to house necessary equipment.
During this time a great deal of advice and assistance was given by the Officers and Councillors of the then Shire of Bellarine. At the time, many townsfolk owned and milked a house cow. At a cost of 10/- ($1) per year, the Council allowed these cows to wanter along the roadsides. A metal disc was attached to a rope around the neck of the cow to denote that payment had been made and this was some of the stock which had to be prevented from wandering on to the much valued Bowling green. At a meeting held on 21st June 1948, it was announced that the green would be ready for play on Opening Day.
Herein lies a lesson for all Record keepers and Historians. At no point throughout the Archives is the actual open date given.
On investigation it can be supposed that the date was in October, 1948 thought to be the Saturday immediately preceding the first round of the Pennant season of 1948-49. The festivities commenced with a Ball on the eve of the Opening.

Author’s digression…. On reading through old records there is a certain amount of frustration involved in finding such things as incomplete dates being noted i.e. 24th June or Monday 8th without adding the year or sometimes the month, statements such as “President – everyone except Tom Smith and Jack Black” leaving the reader to guess who “everyone” might be. Again some names mentioned can cause scratching of heads especially in small communities which may have extended family links. For example, Mr. R. Smith (Robert) Mr. B. Smith (?Bob) or is it Barry, Bob’s brother? Even more confusing when ladies are mentioned Mrs. R. Smith (maybe Robert’s wife) or is it Mrs Ruth Smith, Barry’s wife? Add to this Mrs R. Smith’s name is Leticia and so she may be noted as Mrs L. Smith but then she is usually known as “Tish” so she might appear as Mrs T. Smith. Any wonder the Historian turns grey at an early age! …

Congratulations must go to the early Record keepers of the Bowling Club who clearly documented and identified members of the same name by adding such things as extra initials e.g. H.E. or H.W. where necessary.

Throughout the formative years of the club much needed advice and interest was given by the members of the Portarlington Bowling Club and their Greenkeeper Mr. J. Wheadon.
At the Annual meeting held in June 1948, Mr R. Clarke was given the honour of becoming the first Life Members of the Drysdale Bowling Club “in recognition of the outstanding services he rendered”.
Harry Butcher was appointed the first Greenkeeper and there was talk of light being erected over the greens.
In August of 1948 the first mention is made of a Croquet lawn. A new lawn was to be laid down and the lady members were invited to form a Croquet club. They would be offered first preference for play on the new lawn.

Towards the end of 1949 ladies were barred from playing bowls on Saturdays. This caused some degree of angst and was later changed to allow ladies to play on Saturdays other than Pennant days.

Maroon, blue and gold were adopted as the Club colours and the Croquet club was fast becoming a reality. The Bowling Club undertook the maintenance and upkeep of the Croquet lawn for the ensuing twelve months.

During the early years of operation the Club ran at a deficit and although it is not made apparent, some the members must have backed the club financially in those lean years. At the end of 1953 lights were erected over the bowling rinks.

Concurrent to the setting up of a Men’s Bowling Club, a Ladies section also came into being and would share the facilities being prepared with no small amount of blood, sweat and tears.

The original club house and machinery buildings were virtually old sheds and needed constant repair and patchwork up-dating to meet the needs of the Membership. Debentures, with interest, were slowly repaid during the 1960’s.

In 1967 a Sub-committee was formed to discuss plans for future building extensions or a new building. This became a recurrent theme well into the 70’s and 80’s.

Night bowls under lights continued to be a popular and well supported activity while the Pennant teams and individual members tasted some playing successes.

A special meeting in May of 1969 was held to decide on future developments. Three options were offered, these being:
Project One: Move to the Park near the Football ground building a new Club house and two 7 rink greens on two and a half acres of land giving room to double in size and provide ample parking.
Project Two: Rebuild and extend the present kitchen and committee room. Alterations would provide a much larger kitchen at a cost of approximately $10,000.
Project Three: Build a new Club house backing on to Springs Road, convert the present Croquet green into a 7 link green and lay a new Croquet green.
Project Three was the preferred option of the meeting.

At some point in the early years there is evidence that 5 Trustees were appointed however there is no record of this until, at the end the 1969 around 20 years later, it is reported that 2 of the Trustees had died and must be replaced. D.A. Mortimer and J. Biggins were duly elected and the three remaining original Trustees were named as E. Rodgers, H.W. Bennett and N.D. Lennox. It is not known who the deceased Trustees were.

During the late 60’s and all of the 70’s great efforts were expended in not only keeping the club financially viable but also in raising extra funds to build a new Club house. Money was tight and voluntary labour from many club members helped to keep running costs down.

The Ladies Associates cannot be praised highly enough for their magnificent work in catering for the many club events during this period from the annual Carnival of Bowls and other tournaments to the Annual Ball and Pennant Day refreshments.
A Building fund was again set up and very slowly the balance rose. In mid 1971 a little over $800 was taken from this fund to pay out all remaining Debentures.

Finances continued to be very tight and the Building Fund pretty much stalled. Never-the-less the club was most generous in supporting many organisations with small donations, some of these being – The Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, Royal Children’s Hospital Appeal, the local Bush Nursing Centre, (a pre-cursor of the present day Community Health Service) other local Sporting clubs for their Building Appeals, the M.S. Society, Commonwealth and Olympic Games Funds, Spastic Society in support of local Entrants in the Miss Australia Quest, Alfred Hospital, Walter and Eliza Institute and the 1983 Bushfire Relief fund. What a tremendous community spirit this shows when this club itself in “Struggle Street”.

About this time the Club Associates requested the introduction of indoor Carpet Bowls as a Fellowship and Fundraising exercise.

The 30th Anniversary of the Club was celebrated in September 1978 with a Barbecue and the first Junior member was admitted. It was resolved that four shelters to be erected between Greens One and Two.
In 1984 the Club decided to seek assistance in becoming an Incorporated Body and this came to fruition in 1986.
Apart from the Minutes of the Annual Meetings in 1984 and 1985, there is no record of Minutes of meeting held from May 1984 until July of 1986. Through the available Minutes of 1986 there is frequent mention to a new Club house and in August an approach to the Croquet Club to join with the Bowling Club forming a Drysdale Bowling and Croquet Club was mooted.

It would appear that sometime in 1984 Night Bowls was discontinued and the lights dismantled as there is no further mention of this activity after January of that year.
The Club was advised by the local Council that they should develop plans for a new Club house, ascertain costs, the amount needed to be borrowed and how the Club would service this debt. This led to a proposal to seek ownership of two blocks of land within the Club’s leased premises by adverse possession.

In February 1987 an idea was formed for funding of a new Clubhouse by members and hopefully some input from Council. This was based on taking out Life Assurance coverage on one of the youngest members (take a bow Ray Bennett) with Premiums being paid by the Club and thus negating heavy interest charges. This scheme was thought to be possible through A.M.P. and would raise approximately $110,000. Repayments of $15,600 per annum would be incurred. Members were asked for donations of money to the Building fund as soon as convenient so that monies would be available for Plans, Specifications, Architectural and Engineering costs etc. Application was made to the Raffles and Bingo Board for a permit to play Bingo as a fund-raiser. By the end of March 1987 some $50,000 had been committed and invested at 15% interest until needed. One month later $94,000 had been promised by members – “a truly wonderful result which reflected great credit on the club members concerned”.

Throughout 1988 an enormous amount of activity took place. The building of the new Clubhouse commenced and was brought to fruition in October and that year, the 40th Anniversary of the opening of the Club although the Official Opening of the new Clubhouse did not take place until 7th January, 1989.

Concurrently much legal work was undertaken to obtain ownership of 2 blocks of land comprising almost all of No. 1 Green by Adverse possession. The local Council supported this move and further consultations were held with the Croquet Club with a view to having both Clubs combine as one united body. A full Liquor Licence was granted in October 1988. This coincided with the opening of the new Bar in the Clubhouse for which Norma Mortimer donated the necessary funds to cover the cost of installing.

The Croquet Club advised that they would be willing to join with the Bowling Club and operated as one Incorporated body. At this time the Croquet room was an Atco hut on loan from the Council. Some discussion took place as to whether the old men’s room could be used by Croquet Club members however a further suggestion was made that an independent room be built for this purpose. Later in the year a Planning permit was lodged with the Council for the building of a small Clubhouse and this came to fruition in 1990 and was fully paid for by funds held by the Croquet Club.
In November 1988 it was decided to dismantle the lights over the green as they were not satisfactory and would be detrimental to the look of the new Clubhouse and its surroundings. A certificated of Title of Land being sought by adverse possession was finally received after two years of negotiation in 1989. Moves to sell the old Clubhouse did not get response and so, in 1990, several working bees were held to pull down this structure.

At the Annual Meeting held on the 4th June 1990 the Croquet Club was formally amalgamated with the Bowling Club and the new entity thus created became “The Drysdale Bowling and Croquet Club Inc.”

Unfortunately there are no written records available between 1990 and 2003 to verify the activities of the Club however there were obviously a great number of events which took place during this period keeping the Club both socially and financially viable.

In 2003 long discussions were held about the playing surfaces. It was suggested that artificial turf could be the answer to the massively increased water bills because of the long drought and severe water restrictions. Hand watering of the greens was a lengthy and arduous process undertaken by a few very willing members.

Due to unforeseen circumstances about this time a higher than usual financial outlay occurred but the Club maintained its financial health although having to curtail the purchase of some wanted items. A watering system for the Bowling greens was installed at a cost of $10,000, a Roller grille and a Safe were installed in the Bar areas and a Showcase was donated to display the historic Bell used to start and finish play. This Bell was given to the Club by “Digger” Warren, a Queenscliff fisherman. It is said to be from “The Time” sailing ship shipwrecked on the Corsair Reef many years ago.

In September 2006, the City of Greater Geelong gave a Grant of $7,000 for a pop-up sprinkler system for the Croquet greens and as time went on more discussions took place re changing the Bowling greens to synthetic surfaces, the costs being approximately $150,000 per green. Four different models were mooted, these being:
Retain two grass greens
One grass and one synthetic green
Two synthetic greens
One grass and on Tiff-dwarf green
Synthetics cost approximately $170,000 each and will last 8 years. Tiff-dwarf cost approx. $40 to $50,000 and last about 26 years. The vote was in favour of retaining two grass greens.

At the end of 2008 talks commenced between the City of Greater Geelong and several Developers who wished to acquire the land and buildings of the Club to use for retail purposes. Over the next few years many options for the relocation of the Club were put forward and investigated thoroughly. This process was an enormous amount of work and, at times, much angst among Club members. After some four years or so this whole venture came to nothing when the Developers pulled out and chose another site in Murradoc Road.

Towards the end of 2008 the damage to the greens caused by rabbits became too much to bear and ferrets were brought in to alleviate this problem. As the burrows were found to be located beneath the Machinery shed this was only partially successful and rabbit continue to be an issue to this day.

In October 2009 the Ladies section of the Bowling Club celebrated their 60th Birthday. Synthetic greens were again mooted but did not proceed and in 2011 the Mens and Ladies sections amalgamated into one body. Carpet Bowls as a social and fund-raising activity continued in 2011 but sadly Bingo came to an end about this time. Bingo had been quite a lucrative income stream for the Club but, as with many other things, much of the effort to run this activity was left to too few. Triples for Triers was very popular and unfortunately several teams missed out on this Competition due to its being fully subscribed.
Early in 2012 the lease of our current site was renewed and a new and comprehensive Code of Conduct was adopted by the Club. The surface of Bowling Green No. 1 was replaced this year also and, after the drought of previous years, a great deal of rain caused much interference with both the playing and maintenance schedules.

In March of 2013 a formal statement was finally received that the proposed acquisition of the Club’s land would not proceed and so the Club was free to plan for the future on the present site. The 25th Anniversary of the opening of the Club house was celebrated in style and damage to the greens by rabbits remained a problem.
As in past years the early 2000’s were financially a mere step ahead of the income required to run a successful organisation. Some fund-raising activities proved to be a liability and these were dropped. The slow, steady increase in costs were not being well covered and much discussion took place around promoting new ventures.
As stated in VicSport update to all sporting clubs in 2015… “Decreasing participation rates in structured sport, declining volunteer numbers, increased administrative costs and compliance requirements, and shrinking funding pools are all factors working together to make it more difficult for small community based grass roots sport and recreation clubs to survive”. This lengthy document went on to promote amalgamation of local groups as one way of assisting in better outcomes for all but also acknowledged that many organisations would be most reluctant to relinquish exclusive control of their operations. At about this time some discussions took place with the Clifton Springs Bowling Club along these very lines but this too came to nothing.
In 2014 a Ten year Forward plan was adopted and three years into that time frame several items have been brought to fruition some of these being a new fence on the Colins St. boundary, removal of a small shed on the south boundary of Green One.

In July 2012 it was proposed by the Croquet Section that the Main Clubhouse be named in honour of Norma and Lex Mortimer. As Lex declined the offer of his name to be included the Official naming “The Norma Mortimer Clubhouse took place with a celebratory Dinner in August 2016.
Ditches around bowling greens were deteriorating and needed to be replaced at a cost of $20,000.
Sausage Sizzles at Coles, Bunnings and Aldi became a semi-regular but infrequent fund raising activity.
During the early to mid-teens we weathered some years of strained financial viability. This has been an on-going concern for the Club throughout its history and no doubt along with all small sporting groups, will continue into the future. Innovative fund raising activity ideas are always welcome.
In 2014 the Club adopted a Proposed Facility Development Plan which included such items as improving shelter and shade areas throughout the site, replacing existing fencing along Collins Street and erect new fencing on the South boundary to improve security and safety and the provision of a sheltered B.B.Q. and Picnic area. Further re-configuration of the Clubhouse to maximise indoor facilities was also proposed. Several of these projects have been completed and work on other will take place as time and finances permit.

With a new Committee of Management in place, much of 2017 was spent on up-dating Policy and Governance issues to comply with ever increasing Regulations imposed on all Clubs and community groups.
A new kitchen and dedicated Office area were completed and again many volunteer hours were spent in improving our already great playing and social areas.
The kitchen, with its magnificent catering facilities, has been particularly valuable as a source of much needed income but as ever, requires dedication from a small number of volunteers to continue its viability. A small degree of input from many more members would ensure its on-going success.
Again the matter of natural verses artificial turf was discussed at length. Drysdale is rightly proud of the high regard in which its natural grass greens are held throughout the district and so it was decided that a new Tiff-dwarf surface would be sown on No. 2 Green. The expected life of this grass is said to be at least 25 years and probably a great deal more.
October 2018 will see the completion of 70 years since the inception of the Drysdale Bowling Club. It is timely to thank all those who have gone before for their efforts in providing and maintaining the wonderful playing and social opportunities we have today. Today’s members are equally tasked to continue past endeavours to ensure the on-going viability of resources for future generations.
Enormous appreciation is acknowledged to all those members, friends, players, sponsors, benefactors, tradesmen, contractors, employees and most especially the volunteers for all their hours of commitment to ensuring that the Club goes on in leaps and bounds into the future.

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