A People's Club
What is a club but an association of the population who have a common bond, in this case, lawn bowls?
In February 1911, an informal meeting of residents was held to set up the Mordialloc Bowling Club (MBC). Two members were asked to find suitable sites for a green. At a subsequent meeting, a site at Park Street Mordialloc was proposed and accepted. In October 1912, a meeting was held at the Mordialloc Mechanic’s Hall to set up the Club and a Committee was elected to run it.
A new Club had begun to write its history.
The people selected as a Committee had the job of setting the rules for this Club including: fees £ 2.2.0 ($250 in 2011 dollars); allocation of space for a croquet lawn for the ladies; club colours (bright blue and bright yellow) etc. They also had to make the financial arrangements for the development of the bowling green and the croquet lawn and the associated buildings. In July 1923, the croquet lawn was converted to a bowling green to cater for the ladies.
All this was achieved with the support of all the members, some who took up debentures to support the Club. Other Bowls clubs in the area (especially Cheltenham and Mentone) also supported the development of this new Club when problems occurred in building the new green by allowing use of their greens.
The first recorded match by MBC was against Sandringham for the Cr Small Trophy. MBC lost 46 to 18. In their second match in this competition MBC won their first match against Cheltenham (33 to 18).
The greens were finally completed by November 1912 and the first match on this green was against Dandenong.
In 1957, the Club moved to its current location at Mc Donald Street Mordialloc. This move came about as land became available that allowed for expansion. Once again, the members came to the fore to get the greens, a clubhouse and other buildings built. A donation from the Mordialloc Carnival Committee of ~£6000 made the job much easier.
We believe that Mordialloc was one of the first lawn bowling clubs to attempt a winter bowls competition. In March 1976, the Club started a round robin competition. It is not known how long the venture ran. In April 1985, the Committee checked with the green keeper to consider the effect of winter bowls on the green condition. No problem was envisaged, so a fours competition was started with bowlers from other bayside clubs invited to attend. This time the venture was successful and winter bowls is still running to this day.
In 2008, the large grass green was split into a synthetic green and a petanque piste. Again, a large contribution was made by the members as they gave their time and energy to moving sand in preparation for the laying of the green. The history of the Club goes full circle with the Club again offering two sports.
The Club celebrated its centenary in 2012 with a dinner that included many members from the early days of the Club.
And, of course the work continues after the celebrations.
In an effort to keep costs under control and to provide an excellent surface for bowlers, the Board in 2016 decided to remove the small tifdwarf grass green at the south end of the Club and replace it with a new synthetic surface. This Bowlsweave 'carpet-like' surface provides a faster green and allows for all weather use.
The Board worked hard over many years to put money aside to pay for this work, over $200,000 was saved. The project was funded using the club's funds and with financial support from the Kingston Council. This work has led to an excellent resource for local sports women and men and the local community with barefoot bowls.
The Club works with the local community including those with a disability. The Club has yearly visits from Blind Bowlers and other persons with disabilities on a more regular basis. Many of the Club's own bowlers use a mechanical arm that allows them to bowl without having to bend. This allows the people to keep active and the Club to keep members on the green!
The Board continues to grapple with pressures from various directions: increased costs, an aging bowling membership, finding new members from a time-poor population, and volunteers to run the Club. The Club has been fortunate to continue with finding members who will put their hand up to take on the work that is required to run a 'not for profit' organisation.
In reading the Club minutes from the inception of the Club, then as now, the work of the ordinary members in developing and maintaining their Club is extensive and vital to its existence.
Written by John Widdowson