Changes on and off the green as bowlers prepare for new season

Ballymena Bowling Club lady members Andrea McKeown, Jenny McCready, Marie Houston, Jean Rainey, Linda McCullough and Barbara Cameron with their awards from the clubs annual dinner. INBT45-270AC
Ballymena Bowling Club lady members Andrea McKeown, Jenny McCready, Marie Houston, Jean Rainey, Linda McCullough and Barbara Cameron with their awards from the clubs annual dinner. INBT45-270AC

It seems no time since Ballymena Bowling Club and its members were celebrating yet another successful season back in September last year.

But already, the Old Ballymoney Road club are preapring for the beginning of a new season where the Ballymena bowlers will be trying to have an even better season than last year.

The club’s official opening takes place this Saturday, March 28, at 2pm. Club President, Mr George Graham and the Club’s Lady President, Mrs Pat Allen will throw the first bowl and it is hoped that there will be a good turnout of members for the official opening.

Weather permitting a fun bowls tournament will take place after the official opening followed by tea and presentation of prizes for the winners of the fun bowls tournament.

A lot of changes have taken place both on and off the green since last year.

Before the official opening on Saturday afternoon another very important event will take place.

Ballymena has always been a progressive club and was one of the first clubs to install floodlights.

Over the years, however, the quality of the lighting has deteriorated but during the close season the club, along with assistance from Ballymena Borough Council have installed new floodlights and on Friday 27th March 2015 at 8.00pm the Mayor of Ballymena, Mrs Audrey Wales will officially turn on the new floodlights for the first time.

Jennifer Dowds also faces a busy year as she has taken over as President of Provincial Towns Women’s Bowling Association.

The Club has also taken a decision to change their club shirts and it is hoped that these will be available by Mid April.

Finally, there have been a lot of changes within the league structures of both the Northern Ireland Private Greens and Provincial Towns since this time last year.

The men play in the Northern Ireland Private Greens and this year Ballymena Bowling Club is hoping to field 4 teams. Three of these teams play on a Saturday and the Midweek team play on a Wednesday night.

This year the Senior and Junior leagues have been amalgamated in to one league with 5 divisions. Ballymena ‘A’ will play in Division 1, Ballymena ‘B’ will play in Division 3 and Ballymena ‘C’ will play in Division 4. The three teams will compete in leagues comprising of 10 teams and will play their matches on a home and away basis.

Unfortunately Ballymena Bowling Club was unable to field a team to play in the Midweek League last year however the Club are confident that they will be able to put out a team this year. The Midweek leagues have also been restructured and instead of three leagues there are now only two. Ballymena Midweek will compete in Division 2.

Last year Ballymena Ladies competed in the Provincial Towns Women’s Bowling Association Senior League. Again there have been some changes here. Firstly the Senior and Junior leagues have been amalgamated in to one which now gives a total of 10 teams in the league.

Northern Ireland Private Greens Competitions and Provincial Towns Competitions commence late April / early May and Ballymena Bowling Club Competitions will commence in May. All members are reminded that entries for the above competitions must be received no later than 5.00 pm on opening day, Saturday 28th March 2015.

Anyone who hasn’t tried outdoor bowls before or would be interested in playing outdoor bowls for the first time will be made welcome at the Old Ballymoney Road Club and bowls are available for those who would want to try it out.

During April those wishing to try outdoor bowls for the first time can come and play with no fees. Half Price Membership is available to new bowlers who subsequently join the Club for the first year.

Junior Membership is free and available to under 14’s. Juvenile Members (any person over 14 but who has not attained 21 years of age) and Student Members (over 21 years of age and who is a full time student) can avail of reduced Membership Fees.