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Centenary Booklet 3
It seems probable that the first major honour to come to Hope Paton was in 1928 when the club rinks’ representatives won the Forfarshire Championships. In perfect bowling weather at Forfar the Hope Paton rink, A. and R. Burness, J. Fraser and J. Beedie (skip) beat Camperdown 26-18 in the afternoon semi-final before defeating Reid Park 17-11 in the evening final. Once again the club are fortunate in possessing a photograph of that occasion.
In 1977 Hope Paton bowlers had the honour of bringing the Pairs championship to Montrose for the first time when Ron Blacklaws and J. J. Milne took the title on a terrible day of rain at Boyle Park. In 1987 Gordon Smith won the Junior singles and S. L. Hale recorded a 21-14 victory over D. Strachan, Dundee East End, at Newgate in 1996.
The Hutchison Trophy
Sir Robert Hutchison M.P. for the Montrose Burghs (later Lord Hutchison of Montrose) had followed his predecessor’s patronage of bowling when he gifted a trophy for rinks competition to the Montrose Burghs Bowling Association in 1928. The Association consisted of clubs in Montrose, Arbroath, Forfar, Brechin and Bervie. Hope Paton took part in competition for the Hutchison Trophy, now run by the North and South Angus and Mearns Bowling Association, from the start. In 1936 the Hope Paton rink of A. Gibson, J. Mitchell, D. Webster and J. L. Milne had the distinction of being the first Montrose rink to win the trophy. The Review reports this win as being possibly the bowling achievement of the year. Although the club have featured in finals since then, it is sad to relate that the name of Hope Paton appears only once on the cup. Arbroath clubs in particular have been our downfall, losing to Newgate in 1939 and 1951 and probably saddest of all in 1958 when Hope Paton lost 21 - 20 to Abbey at their own green. The cup did stay in Montrose in 1937 however, when Melville were the winners.
Mr. David Webster, who played third in the winning rink of 1936 had another achievement that year; it would appear that two brothers contested the final of the Hope Paton green championship for the first time when David was narrowly beaten by his brother William.
Renny Tailyour Cup
Hope Paton’s record in the Renny Tailyour competition is only marginally better. Their first win in 1961 was followed in 1964 by another appearance in the final, this time against Reid Park only to lose 21-20 after an extra end. However in 1965, A. Leiper, A. Gibson Snr., E. Cargill and F. Jackson (skip) beat a Lochlands rink 18 - 14 for only the second time this particular cup has come to Hope Paton.
The A. Munzie Memorial Cup
Matches between Hope Paton bowlers and visitors from the West of Scotland have been a feature from the earliest days of the club. The first recorded encounter between the two took place in July 1906 when Hope Paton were beaten 114-110 by a team representing Glasgow visitors. In August 1909 visitors who had used the green for two weeks showed their appreciation by holding a benefit match among themselves for the green keeper. Matches continued in future years with newspaper reports and club minutes referring variously to Hope Paton v The Ramblers or The Glasgow Ramblers but more often simply as The Visitors. The name of A. Munzie appears as one of the Visitors in several matches from the early 1920’s to the late 1930’s and in July 1929 the Review reported that “a pleasant ceremony” took place on the green when Mr. Munzie intimated the presentation of a cup to be competed for annually. The cup, inscribed “The A. Munzie Memorial Cup - Presented by Visitors for Annual Competition”, was formally presented to the President William Brunton by Mrs. Munzie. The first competition for the new trophy had taken place the previous week when Hope Paton members had won by 15 shots and Baillie Todd presented prizes to the winners.
Mr. Munzie, who had been a welcome visitor to Hope Paton for over a quarter of a century, was a past President of Cowlairs Bowling Club having represented his club many times in Glasgow and Scottish competitions. The matches for the Munzie Cup were not always played at Hope Paton as the Review reported in June 1931 that three rinks of Hope Paton bowlers travelled to Cowlairs to play against a Glasgow Select. On that occasion the Montrose bowlers were victorious by 77 shots to 48.
Another photograph in the clubhouse of Hope Paton v Ramblers at an unspecified green in 1931 may well be the contestants in that match.
Mr. Munzie was a good friend to the Hope Paton bowlers and was also an outspoken character. In 1935 the Town Council were to present the club with a new flag and an unfortunate delay had given them the opportunity (probably with publicity in mind) of making the presentation at the important annual Hope Paton v Visitors match.
Hospital Master Gardner who had responsibility for Parks and Gardens was duly despatched to perform the honours. After an introduction by President J. L. Milne, Mr Munzie on behalf of the Visitors made a long speech. He said it was an honour and a privilege to be present on the occasion. He had been coming to Hope Paton for 27 years and the Visitors who returned annually had always been well received. As one interested in statistics he had discovered that recently in one week 1127 games had been played at Hope Paton. However, while a flag was of great importance to all bowling greens, there were other things that could be added and a long standing necessity at this green was the accommodation of a ladies’ toilet. The green had the patronage of many ladies and he urged the members to inform the Council of this fact. He guaranteed if they paid attention to his advice they would not want for another flag as the profits would enable a flag to be bought every 2 - 3 years.
Hospital Master Gardner, in his reply, said he had not expected to come here today and be criticised but the Town Council always listened to friendly advice such as he had just heard.
He then unfurled the flag bearing the club name - and most possibly beat a hasty retreat!
Club minutes show that the Munzie cup was still being played for in the 1960’s and was extremely popular as on several occasions the match comprised seven rinks. Although this was a separate competition it may well have provided the inspiration to hold the post second world war “Tournament” which lasted a week and later became the “Holiday Fours”. Club minutes record that Council permission was required before staging the “Tournament”, with extra chairs being required for the spectators. In later years competition for the Munzie cup ceased and it lay tarnished and unused in the clubrooms until it was resurrected by Tom Grace in his presidential year. Now polished to its former glory, the “A Munzie Memorial Trophy” is used as a token trophy for the annual Hope Paton Veterans v The Rest match played at the end of the Holiday Fours week.
Unlike the period - 1915 to 1918, domestic competitions continued during the Second World War although certain inter-club competitions ceased. Bowling reports for that time and in fact well into the 1950’s are unfortunately scarce by past and present day standards. The war also had an adverse effect on prizes for the Corporation Bowls Competition. In 1948 the Town Council received an application from the Hope Paton secretary Mr. John Tulloch on behalf of his own and the Melville club asking that the Parks and Gardens Dept. should revert to providing the “Silver Tops” as prizes. Difficulty had been experienced in obtaining bowls during the war but the Council agreed to provide £2. 10/- for an article as a prize to each club and to provide bowls for next year’s competition. The price of the pair of bowls is quoted in the following year as £7. 6s. 2d.(£7.31) per pair with the Council also bearing the engraving cost. Vouchers were also gifted by the Council to be given to the winners of the Green Championships of the various public greens. However, there seems to have been some misunderstanding in this matter as the clubs were all informed in no uncertain terms that these vouchers were to be handed over entirely to the winners only. Season tickets again raised controversy and the Hope Paton secretary wrote to the Council asking that the price of 25s (£1.25p) should be reconsidered as it was excessive and also requesting that these tickets should be valid for all greens in the town. These pleas were rejected, as was a reduction in price for pensioners. However, the Council agreed that the previous agreement that pensioners could play free in the mornings was to stay.
The normal practice of Provost or Councillor presenting end of season prizes at Hope Paton had been the norm since 1905 and had included many notable local figures including the controversial Miss Glory Adams in 1937. This changed in the late 1940’s with a club whist drive followed by a supper and dance, with the presentations often being performed by relatives of the club President.
Open Competitions - The Holiday Fours.
In 1947 the Town Council heard what appears to be the first application from Hope Paton to hold a week long Open Rinks Competition during the Trades’ Holiday. Although no further mention appears of the competition that year, permission must have been granted and in 1948 it was reported that in the final of the Rink Competition, J. Croall (skip) beat J. Burnett (skip) 15-9. Councillor Dawson presented the prizes and it was announced that a collection taken all week in aid of R.N.L.I. funds had realised £6. 10/- In 1950 the tournament bore the title of the “Hope Paton Holiday at Home Bowling Competition”.
The competition gained in popularity as it normally attracted the usual holiday makers from the West of Scotland. Montrose Town Council recognised this significance and at the end of the 1953 season announced that a grant would be available to Hope Paton for next year’s competition. The Tournament also gained a trophy in 1954 when Provost J. C. Cameron (Kathleen Scott’s father) donated a Rose Bowl to be awarded to the winners. The timing of this was appropriate as the first winners of the trophy were a Glasgow rink - J. Johnston, J. Pearson, N. MacKenzie and W. MacDonald (skip). While little is known of the other three members of that rink, Mr. Pearson was undoubtedly a bowler of considerable talent being a Glasgow champion and a Scottish singles semi finalist. When the base of the Rose Bowl was completely filled with winners names in 1998, the trophy was replaced with a Quaich gifted by that year’s President - Stuart Hale and his wife Joyce. Today, despite the fact that entries mainly come from the surrounding area, the Holiday Fours is still the major Hope Paton open competition attracting over 100 bowlers each year. Montrose Review are one of the main sponsors of this week-long financial success for Hope Paton.
Mr. and Mrs. Competition
While the Holiday Fours are the main source of competition income, there is no denying the popularity of the annual Mr. and Mrs. competition. The inspiration for this round robin came from Ted and Olive Leven when watching the former TV show of the same name and has been a success ever since it started in 1989. With entries coming occasionally from as far afield as Aberdeen and Kirkcaldy the biggest problem is often accommodating all entrants. The first winners were Bert and Helen Mackie who then gifted a cup well worth winning.
The Coronation Tankard (Gents Pairs Trophy)
In 1953 Mr. Archibald Johnston gifted another trophy to Hope Paton. The Coronation Tankard started off as the prize for the Two Bowl competition with P. Paton named as the first winner. By 1968 the Two Bowl temporarily ceased to be played for due to lack of entries and in 1971 the trophy became and still is today the trophy awarded to the winners of the Gents Pairs’ competition.
The Editor of the Review received the first of a series of letters on the 29th July 1954. The first has a familiar ring to it, the second gave an insight into the construction of the green and the third concerned the biggest impact on the green……..ever!
I trust before next season that something will be done to the Hope Paton green to improve its playing surface. This is not a complaint against the green keeper. In my opinion it is beyond him to put matters right.
What is required is for the Burgh Surveyor with his instruments to check the levels of the green. It’s simply full of tracks - roadies or closies as the locals term them - and you get them no matter in what direction the green is set - one hand swinging and the other practically dead straight.
Although bowlers seem to be a diminishing fraternity in Montrose and the green is not so hard played on as in the past, it is 50 - odd years since it was laid down and it is quite possible the foundations require seeing to.
And the reply
Undoubtedly there may be some justification for the amusing criticism by your correspondent “St Mungo” in last weeks Review regarding the erratic and difficult playing surface of the Hope Paton bowling green but to suggest as he does that the foundations may require attention is surely too drastic a surgical operation for skin trouble.
The layout and foundation was scientifically planned and supervised by an expert landscape artist, the late Mr. Sharp, in collaboration with that genial, energetic, and in all things horticultural, progressive Aberdonian, the late Mr. MacDonald, Parks and Gardens Superintendent at Allenvale, Aberdeen.
The turf of high grade texture was cut from the Mid Links between Sandy Strachan’s Farm and Sandford Thomson’s house. Boxing and root shaving was also completed at that point, foundations were laid and time allowed for settlement. Acid free sterilised ash was used for levelling and porosity.
Turf knitting commenced from the south east or Union Street corner finishing at the north west corner. There were four operatives on the job. Mr. Sharp, supervisor, Mr. Nicoll, whose father was the military postman at the barracks attached to the artillery, better known as “Fizzy”, also Bill Allen, who had studied green keeping after his days were over as a goalkeeper for Sheffield Wednesday - what hands and feet Bill had and he could use both of them to some effect! - finally myself, and I felt quite at home there for that had been my battle and playing ground while attending Miss McGregor’s school in White’s Place.
Perhaps the “closies”, “roadies”, “howlies”, and “bunkeries” complained of is the green’s natural and physical revolt at being denied it’s “restie” on the Sabbath, or is it just the result of writhing under the heavy tread of it’s first keeper, ex-Police Sergeant Thornton, who must have turned the scales at around 16 stones. Your guess is as good as mine, dear Editor!
Judicious piercing at the season’s end with a liberal artificial feeder should sterilise the surface, also a plentiful supply of washed pit sand.
101 Olds Castle Road
Top this then
I read George Dingwall’s letter on the Hope Paton bowling green last week with great interest. I am afraid however the trouble is more than “skin deep”. As far as I can gather an aeroplane crashed on the green during the 1914-18 war. The crash and the removal of the plane damaged the foundations and the deterioration has gone on gradually ever since… etc….etc
Not surprisingly this correspondence ceased.
The story of the aeroplane crashing into Hope Paton green has been mentioned several times without official confirmation. Accidents involving aircraft at that time were very common in the Montrose area and even mid-air collisions happened twice between 1917 and 1918.
Bowling charges had increased sharply ever since the end of the war and in 1957 when the Town Council announced a proposed rise in season tickets from 30/- to 40/- (£1.50 - £2.00) with similar increases for daily and visitors’ tickets the bowlers once again objected. A deputation led by Hope Paton officials on behalf of the public greens met the Parks and Gardens committee and this time were successful in reversing the decision.
This was the start of a bad year in relations between the Council and bowlers.
In July it was reported that the club had refused an entry into their competitions. Following a complaint the council asked the club to reconsider but the Hope Paton committee unanimously agreed to adhere to their decision. The Council then withdrew their normal grant for the Corporation Bowls competition as they could not give a blessing to a competition that excluded a member of the public. The entire Hope Paton committee then resigned. Friction developed at the green leading a visitor to write to the Review pleading that the unpleasantness which had arisen among the bowlers and which was apparent to all should cease and that the happier times experienced in the past should return. It was not until September, after a meeting called by Mr. J. Rankin, who had agreed to look after the books when the committee resigned, that the matter was resolved and normality returned.
Montrose and District Bowling Clubs Association.
Hope Paton took part in the first league championship of the association in 1959 along with Ferryden, Hillside, Inch and Melville. Ferryden became the first holders of a cup gifted by Provost William Johnston, but the next few years clearly belonged to Hope Paton. In 1966, when the association had increased to include teams from Glaxo and British Legion, Hope Paton gained the cup for the fifth time. The association competitions expanded to include a Champion of Champions singles competition for a cup donated by Mr. Ed. Henderson of Hillside and a similar pairs competition for a cup bought by the association. Later still Hillside’s Jim Donald donated a cup bearing his name for a singles competition, the T. S. B. donated a pairs shield, and a Top Ten competition for associated clubs also came into being with a trophy donated by Mr. J. Christie. Over the years Hope Paton have had their fair share of success in all these competitions.
The 1960’s was a difficult period financially for bowling in general. Various suggestions to ease the situation were put forward including the closure of one of the public greens or making one of them a “ladies only” green. At one point it looked as if Hillside and Ferryden might withdraw from the Montrose and District as green fees on the Montrose greens were reportedly twice that of the County Council run greens. However none of these things came to pass although an effort by Councillor George Norrie to have the fees reduced on the grounds they were unfair in comparison with other towns in the district was defeated by 9 vote to 2.
A meeting was called between the President of the Forfarshire Association and representatives of both Hope Paton and Melville to point out that lack of funds made the clubs unable to provide refreshments after the forthcoming semi-finals and finals which would be held on their greens. The clubs asked for assistance especially as the Association balance sheet showed funds in excess of £45. The President pointed out to the clubs that this could not be done before being discussed at an A.G.M. and the clubs then regretted that no teas would be provided. Memberships also dropped as other interests arrived and at one A.G.M. the president blamed bingo for the exceptionally low attendance at sweepstake nights. Luckily things did improve.
The David Silver Cup.
In 1968 the Hope Paton bowling club received a windfall of about £1,000.00 in a legacy from the late Mr. David Silver, Glasgow. The money was to be used for a competition called the David Silver Singles Trophy. Mr. Silver who was over 90 when he died, was born in Montrose and served an apprenticeship as a painter. He later owned a business in Glasgow where he lived for many years. The club used the money to purchase a trophy with the remainder invested in an account and the interest used as prize money for the winners and runners up. Now regarded as the second most important gents singles trophy after the Green Championship, the winner has normally represented Hope Paton in the following year’s Forfarshire singles championship.