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Centenary Booklet 4
The Ladies Section
When making his introductory speech to the presentation of prizes in 1927, President William Brunton intimated pleasure at seeing a number of ladies present. A recent meeting of ladies had decided that they would enter all club competitions next year. To much applause the president expressed the hope that their names might feature among the prize winners a year hence. Newspaper reports state that ladies had taken part in competitions at Melville in 1927 but there is no clear evidence of a similar trend at Hope Paton until the first reported friendly match in 1937 when four rinks of Hope Paton Ladies beat Aberdeen Ladies 66-47. Members’ wives and other ladies did, however, maintain a keen interest in the male club and minutes record they had in fact been thanked many times for their support and assistance to Hope Paton finances with regard to raffles etc. The minutes also record in June 1965 that a request from the secretary of the Scottish Ladies Public Bowling Clubs Association for two rinks in their championships was readily granted by the committee. The records do not state if the unusual time of 4.30pm for these ties in any way influenced the committee’s decision! The all-male club also frequently played matches against ladies from other clubs. Nevertheless, the formation of a ladies’ section proved difficult to achieve and it was not until Friday 2nd of May 1969 that office bearers of the club decided to meet all ladies interested in forming a Ladies’ Section. Soon after that the first ladies’ meeting was held.
Office bearers elected were:- President - Mrs E. Scott, Vice President - Mrs Wallace,
Secretary - Mrs Ethel Norrie, Treasurer - Mrs Kilpatrick.
Now that their own section had been formed, the ladies although small in number, were enthusiastic from the onset. The sale of teas at their afternoon sessions and the organisation of whist and domino drives put their section on a sound financial footing by the end of the first season. As matters gradually gained in strength the ladies were able to make ever increasing donations to the club funds and are today one of the main reasons for the club’s financial success. Even in the winter, the weekly bingo, whist and domino sessions nowadays organised by Helen Mitchell are a financial as well a social asset to the club.
The constitution was altered allowing the ladies to form a separate section organising their own competitions. Friendly matches were arranged against other clubs in the area. The first club competitions were a singles competition for a trophy donated by Mr. James Paton and a pairs competition with no trophy. The winners of these competitions received £2.00 each and runners-up £1.00. Later, the ladies handicap and pairs shields were purchased from section funds and the Champions Shield was donated by George and Ethel Norrie in 1985 followed by a trophy donated in 1989 by Eric Dickie. A competition, which alternated for a few years between mixed pairs and mixed triples, was introduced. This later became the club Mixed Triples which is still played for today The ladies’ committee also donated shields to be presented to each of the winners of the Mixed Veterans Pairs. When these shields became full they were replaced with a handsome cup donated by Willie Thomson.
A Ladies Forfarshire Bowling Association was formed in 1979 and Hope Paton ladies were among those attending the inaugural meeting at Boyle Park. The ladies have enjoyed success in the Forfarshire on several occasions, the first coming in 1985 when Margaret MacCallum won the Singles championship. The Ladies Pairs have also come to Hope Paton on two occasions, the first being in 1990 when Olive Leven and Mary Moore won at Fairmuir. Some years later both these ladies gifted cups in memory of their late husbands and the Tom Moore and Ted Leven competitions are now two of Hope Paton’s most popular present day fixtures. In 2000, arguably one of Hope Paton’s most successful years, Frances Stott and Ethel Norrie also became the Forfarshire Pairs champions by beating the Brechin B. C. representatives 19-12 in that year’s final. A another small piece of history was made by Hope Paton ladies in 1996 when the Triples championship came to a Montrose club for the first time. In an exciting finish, Mary Fraser, Doreen Myles and Margaret Duncan (skip) gained two shots at the last end to beat Lochlands ladies 11-9 at Barrack Park, Dundee.
Despite having their own section in the club, it was not until 1991 that ladies were allowed to attend the club A.G.M. when they were permitted to serve on the committee if elected but could not hold office. The ladies played mostly in the afternoon sessions but held a sweepstake on Tuesday evenings and were also invited at the start to join the men in their Friday evening sweepstake. Gradually, through time, mixed play in the mornings and evenings became accepted as the norm.
The two sections of the club existed in this fashion until 1996 when the club decided to install a sprinkler system for the green. The terms of an application to the Lotteries Commission required that the club constitution should state that all members must be allowed to hold office if elected. After the constitution was changed Mary Fraser gained the distinction of becoming the first lady office bearer of Hope Paton when she was elected Vice President.
The new sprinkler system is a definite asset considering a Review report in 1964 when members arrived one morning to find the green under several inches of water as the hydrant had not been switched off!
It is certainly appropriate in this centenary year that the President of the Ladies’ Section should be Ethel Norrie who has been a member and office bearer of the section since the first meeting in 1969.
The Scottish P. B. C. A.
In March 1970 Hope Paton received a letter from the Scottish Public Bowling Clubs Association regarding entry to that association. Following the attendance of the club secretary Mr. Frank Jackson at the A.G. M. in Glasgow, Hope Paton entered the 1970 Championships in the Singles, Pairs and Rinks competitions. A boost to club morale came in 1971 when the Hope Paton singles representative, A. Gibson won the Scottish area final at Brechin by beating D. Cairns (Forfar West End ) 21-11. By this time Frank Jackson had been elected area secretary of the Scottish and Hope Paton decided to host the 1973 finals of the Scottish Championships. Provost Miss Mitchell opened the proceedings on a day blessed with sunshine making the green and surroundings greatly appreciated by the spectators many of whom had come from the West of Scotland. The association officials were delighted both with the hospitality received from the Council and the excellence of the green. A feature of these finals was the form of 17 year-old R. McJarrow from Bellshill who became the youngest ever winner of the singles when he beat G. Pullar (Monifeith) 21-12 in a game lasting only 17 ends. Hospital Master Mrs. Olive Brodie presented the prizes and afterwards the visitors were entertained to high tea in the Town Hall. The following year, Frank Jackson was elected Vice - President of the Scottish P.B.C.A.
Hope Paton again hosted the Scottish finals in 1997. On another perfect day for bowling more than 200 spectators including local Councillors who had helped sponsor the occasion surrounded the Hope Paton green. The main local interest concerned the club President Stuart Hale who skipped Gordon Hurst and Dave Clare in the final of the Triples against Ardler B. C. Dundee. Although the Hope Paton team acquitted themselves well, the perfect ending to the day was denied the hosts as they had to settle for runner up spot.
This had only been one of several occasions that Hope Paton bowlers reached the final stages. However, the following year when the finals were played at Hillside, the all important Singles title came to the club. The 1997 green champion, Harry Dunn who had shown consistent form on his way to the finals faced the last hurdle against S. McTaggart from the Knightswood club in Glasgow. After an indifferent start the Hope Paton player eventually ran out a comfortable 21-12 winner.
Hope Paton along with Faifley B. C., Ayrshire, played a prominent part in finals of the year 2000 at Fair Isle Bowling Club, Kirkcaldy. The two clubs found themselves in contention in both the pairs and the rinks finals. Although Bill Bremner and Bob Burness lost 12-20 in the pairs, Hope Paton’s David Scott, Brian Pitt, Dave Maver and George Norrie (skip) more than compensated with a convincing 22-8 win in the rinks.
The performance of Hope Paton bowlers in the Scottish championships that year along with the ladies’ win in the Forfarshire pairs put the seal on one of the most successful seasons for many years. The club had also shown up well in the Montrose and District Association competitions, taking the J. Christie Top Ten for the fourth year in succession, the League Championship and the T.S.B. pairs that were won by Ron Murray and Harry Dunn.
At the A.G.M. in 1979 the first possibility that the club members might lease the green and premises from Angus Council was discussed. Following this the committee started initial discussions with the Council and in February the next year after a series of all member meetings the club decided to take over the running of the green for a trial period of one season. This was deemed to have been a success at the 1980 A.G.M. and the members then entered into a lease agreement with Angus Council that lasted until 1990 when a further 21 year lease was agreed upon. The decision to enter into this agreement gave the club members the responsibility for all matters concerning the green and premises and may well have been a significant factor in the next important decision made - the building of the new clubhouse.
The New Clubhouse
Hope Paton committees had over the years made several unsuccessful requests to the Town Council for an extension to the clubhouse. However, by the mid 1980’s, it was apparent that standards of hospitality necessary for friendly matches and club Open Competitions had changed making the clubhouse built in 1904 unsuitable for modern needs. The club decided on finding estimates for a separate building alongside the existing clubhouse and when initial estimates of up to £50,000 from local contractors were received, grave doubts were expressed as to the feasibility of the venture. However, these doubts were in the end overcome, planning permission was sought and the members embarked on a major fund raising project in order to build a new clubhouse themselves. Various means of raising money were employed including “buy a brick”, “throw the dart” competitions, collecting cans for scrap metal, sponsored bowling at greens all over Angus, whist drives, coffee mornings and a yearly gala day at the Hope Paton green.
With the committee having the support of all club members eventually the sum of £11,000 was raised. Together with a grant of £6,000 from Angus Council, a policy of buying materials only when required and having most of the building work done by club members meant that costs were kept to an absolute minimum - and club finances stayed in the black.
At the close of the playing season in September 1990 operations started by excavating the shrubbery adjacent to the clubhouse and the actual building work commenced. While the money-raising had involved most members of the club, the building work itself was practically all done by a team of about five members who were nearly all retired. Calling themselves “Geriatrics Inc” they were led by the building convenor, retired joiner Willie Thomson, who had been involved in the design, ordering of materials and general planning from the very beginning.
The building was completed in an amazingly short time and in April 1991 the new clubhouse was formally opened by Provost Brian Milne. The hard work became an asset to Hope Paton thanks to the club spirit which existed among these members, the hard work of Willie Thomson and his team and particularly to the motivating qualities of the club secretary, later president, Ted Leven.
Now that the new clubhouse was built, the club were able to alter the interior of the old clubhouse, making the old kitchen into a ladies’ cloakroom, reorganising the older toilet facilities and creating more locker space to accommodate an increase in membership.
The sloping grass banks round the green were replaced by vertical walls; a new tool shed for the green equipment and a large notice board were the final touches creating the Hope Paton green of today.
How finances change.
May 12th 1905
To the Editor of the Review
I think the Town Council has acted wrongly in agreeing to issue season tickets. There has been no manifestation on the part of those using the public greens in favour of season tickets. The new departure is certainly not a concession to bowlers as one councillor termed it. Whether the charge be 6/- (30p) or 7/6d (37p) there will be few of those regular frequenters of the green who will stump up either of these sums in advance.
Those who are likely to purchase season tickets are not those whom the greens are meant to benefit. They will rather be those who are able to pay for their sport.
The proposal of Provost Melvin that the charge be 10/- (50p) was a cynical one as it meant nullifying the scheme. But at the same time, if not straight forward, it would have been better to have adopted it.
The plan will, as before, lead to disputes and friction.
An extract from a letter to the Editor March 17th 1911 :-
“It is whispered that a number of private boxes to accommodate the bowls of a selected few are to be provided at Hope Paton this season. On whose authority or recommendation are these to be supplied and is it not a ludicrous and ridiculous departure in a so called Public Pavilion ?”
A Young Bowler
An extract from a letter to the Editor April 28th 1911
“Since the Hope Paton Green was opened it is an open secret that the green has been dominated by a select few, who imagine that it is their own private property, instead of being open to all who care to play.”
When will they do something for the Pensioners?
By 1945 the tariff for bowling on the Public greens had reached 3d for thirteen ends. A report from the Town Council intimated an effort to ease that burden on OAP’s by suggesting that pensioners might be allowed to play free up to mid day (at the discretion of the green keeper). Responses to decisions like these are not unknown:-
May 25 1945
I must say I have felt highly disgusted since I read last week’s issue of the Review.
I refer to Provost Ritchie’s decision - generous decision - to grant the OAP’s free bowling - if the green is not too busy. Is this the Provost’s idea of a joke?. If it is I must say that it is a very poor attempt. Does this mean the Town Council grudges the OAP’s at least one hour of enjoyment?. Not only could they afford this but I think they could take the pensioners for a run in the country now and then to brighten what little pleasure they can derive out of their 10 bob a week.
Honestly, the childishness of this surprises me and makes me feel ashamed.
(The Editor pointed out that the suggestion had come from another Councillor and not the Provost)