In 1848 Representatives of some 200 Scottish bowling clubs met in Glasgow's Town Hall in an attempt to form a national body which would exercise some control over the game as a whole. Not surprisingly perhaps, with so many points of view struggling to be heard, they failed to reach an agreement and a later meeting confirmed that such a lofty ideal was impracticable at the time. This second meeting, held one year after the first abortive attempt, resulted in the momentous decision of appointing a committee to draft a set of laws by which play should be governed. Honorary Secretary of the committee was William W Mitchell, a Glasgow solicitor and a bowler since the age of 11. To his everlasting credit he accomplished this task virtually single-handed and the results we immediately adopted by the bowlers in the West of Scotland. Sixteen years later Mitchell included the laws his Manual of Bowls Playing, thought to be the first instructional book on the game published.
The need for one body to unite the bowlers of East and West Scotland became once again a matter of great urgency and, following a letter to The Scotsman Newspaper in 1889 from James Brown of Sanquhar, further meeting were arranged to thrash out remaining differences. The success of these led directly to the formation, in 1892, of The Scottish Bowling Association, the first national body in bowls history. The Instigator of these fruitful deliberations, James Brown, was appointed honorary secretary and Dr James Clark ( Partick) the first President. Mitchell s laws were, with certain revisions and additions, adopted as the official code of play by the fledgling body and the game of bowls had taken the first step towards recognition as a major sport.
The Present Game and the future
The face of Indoor Bowling in the modern age has changed significantly over the last few years. The World of Televison as it does with so many other sports as lead to changes to make the game more appealing to a demanding armchair audience. The biggest change which brought much rumbling amongst the bowling community, was the introduction of colour. The old shirt and tie whites were replaced with go multicoloured shell suits and more recently by far more appealing coloured polo shirts and trousers. The bowls too were modernised, out went the black and brown woods, in came the reds, greens and blues to be played, not on the green, but on the blue carpet, which was to be the new TV friendly format, which also brought a change in the way a tie was decided, out went first to 21 and in came sets of so many ends and even tiebreakers, all I suppose to spruce up the game for the viewer.
The Outdoor game however has not changed much, apart from some small changes to the rules and remains one of the most popular outdoor sports on the planet. Its future though could be one of decline, if the game and those in power do not realise that in order to survive, some changes need to be at least thought about. Any sport needs new blood and in this ultra modern world of the internet, x box and playstations, its becoming more and more difficult to encourage children into the game. The Game has to sell itself to the younger generation. We have to show them its not just a game for old men in white shirts and grey flannels. The rules on bowling attire should be relaxed and its time the bowlers attire be brought up to date. In my opinion, and a few others who I have spoken too, its time to ditch the old man greys and bring in navy trousers and a polo shirt in club colours.
This simple change would in my opinion help encourage more young people into the sport who would have been normally put of by one sighting of the uniform they would have to wear if they took up bowling. Womens bowling has already taken a forward step with introduction of grey trouser instead of those awful skirts, that no fashion conscience young teenager would want to be seen in. Equal Membership is another step that many clubs have made happen to help bring the game into an equal rights modern world.
The game needs to be made more appealing, more accessible and somehow we have to convince the non bowling public that its no longer an old mans game. Now all we need is for some of the old men to forget about their ancient traditions and get to grips with the fact that the sport of bowling has to change to survive.
Ditch the Greys!!!!!!