The History of South Woodham Ferrers Bowls Club
The bowls club was established in March 1998 after a meeting of residents at the Village Hall. The meeting was well attended by some 120 people resulting in a committee being formed and some 100 or more members being enrolled, including members of the Town Council. However, it quickly emerged that many of the members who had joined were under the mistaken impression that the “Bowling Green” would be up and running immediately or at very least within a year or so. This led to many members not renewing their membership in the second year including most of the council members who had given us their backing. The club had many inquiries about the progress of the “green” from SWF residents, who were bowlers at other clubs, expressing an interest to join once the club had a bowling green – some of those bowlers from elsewhere subsequently joined the South Woodham club.
These were difficult years without a home green – affiliation to the “Essex Bowling Association” was not possible which meant we could not enter league or cup competitions. During the clubs first 6 years we played on average 12 friendly matches each season (all away venues) with two clubs allowing us to use their facilities to entertain them as our guests as our “home” fixture. Also, both Chelmsford and Lionmede Bowling Clubs allowed us to use their facilities for “roll-ups” when their “greens” were not being used.
With successful lottery grants, funds were available for a bowling green at Champions Manor at a cost of £117,000. Work was completed during 2004 and we had at last got our green with an all-weather surface.
Friendly games could now increase to twenty plus per season. More importantly, we were able to apply for affiliation to the Essex Bowling Association, which opened the door to wider activities.
Application was made to join the Chelmsford and District League in 2005 and this was granted for the start of the 2006 season. Credit must be made to founder members for their sheer guts and determination in getting the club off the ground.
Our first full season on the new green was 2006, and it was very successful. We played in the C & D League, Marconi Cup, and also took part in various C & D competitions and charity events. Internally the club held mixed singles, pairs and triples competitions with trophies for the winners. Friendly matches were held throughout the season against clubs as far a field as West Mersea and West Thurrock.
The 2007 season exceeded our expectations. Our team in the C & D reached the final of the Marconi Cup competition. We played more friendly matches then the previous season, and our internal club competitions were well supported. A Spoon Drive was also arranged with 33 members taking part.
The 2008 season again exceeded our expectations. Our men in the C & D finished top and were promoted. A ladies singles and pairs competition was introduced. We also included a Champions Manor Plate for members who lost in the early stages of the club singles competition. Essex Ladies were also made welcome at our green. We introduced a Charity Day, also arranged a match against FODBEC (the disabled club). Our Junior Club was started as well as inviting local Schools to play. The club won the Bowlers Draw, organized by the Friends of English Bowls for selling the most raffle tickets against all the other clubs in England.
The 2009 season established our position in Division 4 of the C & D league. Our ladies won an invitation competition. We invited FODBEC to our Charity Day for Macmillian Nursing Care and managed to raise over £800 pounds. The club took second place in the Bowlers Draw.
The 2010 season again exceeded our expectations. Our men in the C & D finished second and were promoted to Division 3. We again invited FODBEC to our Charity Day, also organized a fun day against the local old boys Cricket Club. The club again won the Bowlers Draw for selling the most raffle tickets.
The 2011 season established our position in Division 3 of the C & D league. We invited the Cricket Club again for a second fun/gala day match. The club won the Bowlers Draw for the 3rd time for selling the most raffle tickets against all the other clubs in England.
In 2012 we applied to join and managed to get elected into the Central Midweek mixed league. Our mixed team included ladies finished top and have been promoted to Division 5. Our teams in the C & D and C.M.B.L reached the semi-finals of the Cup competitions. Our ladies won an invitation competition. We have also introduced a club Gala Day pairs competition and the Ted Cooper trophy for the club member of the year.
2013 was a year of consolidation for both the C&D & C.M.B.L. teams. In C&D league we finished in a respectable 4th position. The C.M.B.L. team finished in 3rd position and only missed out promotion in consecutive years by 3 points.
2014 was definitely a ‘best so far’ year with the Club ending up champions in both the C&D and CMBL leagues – this means automatic promotion for next season in each league. Additionally, the club fought their way to the final of the C&D Marconi Cup. The club narrowly lost the final which was played at Southminster (a neutral venue) against Falcon ‘B.
2015 was yet another very successful season for SWF Bowls with further automatic promotion in the &D and CMBL leagues. Also, the Club appeared in the the final of the Marconi Cup for the second successive season but once again lost narrowly.
2016 season was a reality check with the Club being relegated in both leagues.