Bowling ends after 85 years

Mytholmroyd WMC bowling secretary Peter Copley fears the club’s 85-year-old green has seen its last competitive action.

Thursday, 31st January 2013, 1:18 pm
Peter Copley and John Guest at Mytholmroyd WMC Bowling Club.

The once-flourishing club has withdrawn the last of its teams from the local leagues and Copley has been forced to write to Yorkshire CGBA chief executive Alan Stephenson to relay news of the its demise.

Copley said: “The bowling membership has slowly but surely shrunk to a degree that it is not possible to continue.

“It costs £5,000 to £6,000 a year to maintain the green and with only a couple of teams that is economically not viable.

“I don’t think we will ever see bowling at Mytholmroyd WMC again.”

Alarm bells started ringing on the eve of the 2012 season when WMC were forced to withdraw their first team from Division One of the Halifax League.

And while the highly-successful ladies section at the club has remained strong, Copley said the male membership had dwindled to such an extent that it was decided at an extraordinary general meeting that bowling could not continue.

“All that remains now is a nice lawn,” said Copley, who emphasised that the Working Men’s Club itself was still fairly busy and used for pool, snooker, darts and dominoes.

He said that the green had been given to the club for social purposes by a local philanthropist and had been opened in 1928, three years after the WMC had moved to its present home.

Copley has seen the bowling membership fall from between 60 or 70 players to around a dozen.

“When I joined 30 years ago we had two teams in the Elland League, two in the Hebden Bridge League and two in the Halifax League plus the veterans and ladies.

“Then we got down to just one Elland, one Sowerby Bridge and one Halifax team.”

Mytholmroyd WMC had quality as well as quantity at one time. “When I look back at the players we had here, we could almost have put out a county-strength side with likes of myself, David Wright, Paul Turner and Richard Helliwell. Even the second team was strong.”

Copley, who does not believe the proximity of Mytholmroyd BC was a factor in his club’s decline, said the players had started to disperse to other local clubs such as Old Town and Luddenden Foot.

Copley will be staying on as general secretary of the Halifax League but thinks his playing days are over.

He said the folding of the club had “taken the bottom out of bowling” for him.

“I’ve made my mind up I’m not going to play elsewhere,” said Copley, who has extra family commitments as his daughter has just had twins.