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Centerary Booklet 2
The Gordon Challenge Cup
Another new cup had been gifted at the close of the 1908 season when nieces of Miss Hope Paton, the Misses Jane and Isobel Gordon from Links Lodge (now the dentist’s practice) intimated that they too wished to present a trophy.
The Gordon Challenge Cup is now presented to the winner of the Gents’ Handicap competition. In 1909, however, the club decided that it would be the prize for the Rinks’ Challenge competition. Although club minutes of that era are missing, our predecessors showed great foresight in producing several invaluable pictorial links with the past, one of these being a photograph of the cup along with that first winning rink - Wm. Hampton and R. S. Mowatt (two early presidents of Hope Paton), W. Jackson and Gordon Crowe, the donor of the Crowe cup.
The Half-Holiday Club also had a Gordon Trophy, another “ silver cup of chaste design” presented to them in 1914 by Miss Isobel Gordon of Links Lodge for their Green Championship.
The green was undoubtedly popular as the total money drawn in for the year 1909 realised £45.16/- against the Melville’s total of £35.10/-. Following years finances show that Hope Paton maintained the edge over their older neighbours. Although no figures are available of membership the club felt that a committee comprising 13 members was warranted. The club also recognised that the hard-working secretary / treasurer, Mr. George Arbuthnott required help and in 1910 an assistant secretary was appointed although this position was dropped when the separate office of treasurer was adopted. However, in 1930, pressure on the Treasurer Mr. J. Gove, was such that he too required an assistant for two years.
In September 1909 when Montrose Town Council Hon. Treasurer Melvin presented the prizes to the Hope Paton bowlers, he spoke of the obvious pride that the members had in the club and green. Tribute was also paid to the Misses Gordon for their gift of the Gordon Challenge Cup. Mr. Melvin further commented on the number of young people who were taking part in what used to be regarded as an old person’s game. The young people would be encouraged to receive a handsome solid silver medal for their competition. Known as the “Cameron Challenge Medal” this was the gift of Mr. J. C. Cameron, baker. A Cameron Medal was still being played for in the late 1930’s on the Hope Paton green but by then it was the prize in a Boy Scout bowling competition and there are frequent records of the local Troop winners.
Councillor J. C. Cameron is named as one of the committee members of the Half-Holiday Club in 1915. The Cameron connection is still with Hope Paton as Mr. Cameron’s grand-daughter Kathleen is a member of the club. In a further odd co-incidence, her husband David Scott who was Vice-President in 2003 claims to have worn well, as the Vice President in 1909 was also a Mr. D. Scott!
A meeting again of “bowlers who frequent the green” in April 1910 elected office bearers and committee for the coming year and also decided to join the Forfarshire Bowling Clubs’ Association. Play in competitions organised by the Association would consist of both rink and single hand contests. The first noteworthy Hope Paton performance in the Forfarshire came in 1911 when J. Beedie was runner-up in the final of the singles to S. Mann (Baxter Park)
Also in 1910 the possible origins of the Montrose and District League appeared with the formation of the Montrose Public Greens Rinks League in connection with Hope Paton and Melville. The president, officials and committee for this league consisted of members of both clubs. It was not until 1913 that the winners of this league can be recognised as names of Hope Paton members. By this time Hope Paton were also among the clubs participating in a Three Counties Rinks competition. The Three Counties attracted many entries each year that were divided into sections and was played on several greens in a single day. At that time the winner was the club with the best shots’ difference. Although there is no record of Hope Paton winning the competition, they frequently finished creditably with a plus shots’ advantage. In 1935, however, the Review reported that for the first time in the history of the Three Counties, Hope Paton would be one of the greens used for the competition. This may also have been the kiss of death as it also appears to have been the first time in history Hope Paton finished with a 29 shots’ deficit!
Hope Paton’s record in the Angus League improved greatly in 1910 when they tied for first place with Lochlands. Although Lochlands had a better shots’ advantage the League committee decided that a play off to decide the winner was necessary and this should take place early in 1911. Unfortunately, it would appear the match did not take place as both the Montrose clubs, for reasons unknown, decided to withdraw from the League that year.
In September 1914 the Town’s Gardener submitted a report to the Parks and Gardens committee stating that the Hope Paton green was in splendid condition considering the amount of people who had used the green in the summer. There were only a few areas needing repair. However, owing to constant traffic over the years, the edges some five feet from the ditches required to be raised. The committee agreed to this work but the repairs to the green itself could not be completed as the gardener, Mr. Oliphant, had been called up to the National Reserve.
From 1915 bowling seems to have been in a state of limbo, revenue at Hope Paton plummeted to £18 in the first full year of the war. The Forfarshire Bowling Association decided to hold no annual competitions that year and in fact there are no records of any Hope Paton competitions played in the duration of the war. Although Presidents and reduced committees are recorded, the names of the office bearers for that period remain the same and when the office of Vice - President became vacant there is no mention of a successor.
In 1919 the return to normality was equally dramatic - at a charge of 2d for 13 ends for residents and 3d for non-residents, revenue for the year was £91. In October the convenor of the Parks and Gardens reported to the Council that 10,276 games had been played that year at Hope Paton. The charge of 2d per game seems to have remained constant until after the Second World War when by 1947 the charge had risen to 4d. Club competitions were resumed in 1919 and the office of Vice-President returned. All the pre-war competitions that Hope Paton had participated in, Forfarshire, Three Counties and the Montrose Rinks League, also returned. Another club competition was added for a few years, the Fraser Bowls which were donated by Mr. D. Fraser, Pittsburgh U.S.A.
However, despite newspaper reports of successful seasons, actual results in the early 1920’s of the Gordon Challenge Cup in particular are limited.
In April 1924 Hospitalmaster Grieve intimated to the Town Council that Mr. Bowman, plasterer, had generously offered to give a plaster cast of the town’s coat of arms which would be placed in the triangular area above the entrance to the Hope Paton pavilion. The figures would be gilded and securely fixed with the expectation that the cast would last many years. Photographs from that era show that this feature greatly enhanced the pavilion but sadly it is no longer in place. Mr. Bowman also gifted monetary prizes for a bowling competition to the value of 10/-, 7/6d and 2/6d.
When Dean of Guild Lyell made the presentation of prizes in September 1927 reference was made that, although Hope Paton had been referred to previously as a club, it was in fact only a green and moves were afoot to form a club. A few weeks later, after a meeting held in the clubrooms, it was announced that a club in connection with the green had indeed been formed. The Club was to be called the “Mid Links Bowling Club” with the elected President named as Mr. George Arbuthnott. The secretary, W. Fyfe, was granted power to arrange all fixtures for the next season. Strangely, no further mention of the Mid Links Bowling Club is evident with all club fixtures in 1928 being labelled “Hope Paton Bowling Club”. The 1927 presentation also reported that Hope Paton had the honour of being the most successful green in the town and district having played eight inter-club matches and winning seven - a splendid record.
The Angus league which Hope Paton had been members of in pre war days had ceased for some years but in April 1928 public clubs from Arbroath, Forfar, Brechin and Montrose met in an effort to resuscitate the competition. The meeting was chaired by Mr. George Arbuthnott of Hope Paton who was appointed president when the clubs agreed on the restart. A few years later Mr. James Kidd of Hope Paton became secretary/treasurer and later still the Hope Paton secretary Mr J. Mitchell also served for at least two years as President of the League.
George Arbuthnott who had played a prominent part in the formation of Hope Paton Bowling Club, having been an office bearer for fifteen of the earliest years, died aged 82 in 1964. He was originally a joiner, later became a school janitor, and also played for Montrose Football Club. In later years he became a member of Montrose Bowling Club.