Off the Green

*Scroll down for bowling-related features, although...

**********************************************************************

IT'S NOT JUST BOWLS

ABINGTON BOWLING CLUB plays host to several other functions throughout the year. If you're interested in keeping fit or relaxing or you want to take up a hobby and meet new people, you might like to try:



PILATES CLASSES

  • Mondays 10:30am & 11:30am
  • Wednesdays 2:00pm & 6:00pm
  • Fridays 11:15am

Sessions last one hour
Pay as you go - £5.00

Pilates is a form of exercise aimed at improving the fitness of the mind as well as the body. So not only will your muscles become stronger and more toned but your brain will also be trained to improve your posture. Men and women of all ages welcome.

For more information, please contact:

Tel - 07843787250
Email - chris.nightingale@talktalk.net


**********************************************************************

MONTHLY ART NIGHT

  • 2 hours from 7:15 pm

2017 dates - all on a Tuesday:
  • 17th January
  • 7th February
  • 14th March
  • 25th April
  • 16th May
  • 13th June
  • 11th July

Includes tuition and materials.
For more information, please contact:

Tel - 07843787250
Email - chris.nightingale@talktalk.net


**********************************************************************



BARN DANCE
  • Friday 24th March 2017

For more information, please contact:

Tel - 07843787250


**********************************************************************


OTAGO EXERCISE
  • Wednesdays 10:30 - 11:30

Otago is a seated exercise programme to improve and maintain strength and balance in older people.

Older age presents certain challenges which need to be addressed to ensure that we are all able to enjoy the benefits of those added years. For example, these classes could prevent you or someone you know from having a nasty fall.

There is also a Voluntary Impact Car Scheme in place to transport participants from their homes to the classes, at the cost of 40p a mile.

For more information, please contact:

Tel - 07843787250
**********************************************************************


HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING
  • Wednesdays 7:15 until 8pm

Studies have long shown interval training to be the best form of exercise for burning the maximum amount of body fat in the shortest amount of time. This class includes cardio work, upper & lower body workouts and harnessing your explosive strength.

For more information, please contact:

Tel - 07843787250


**********************************************************************

ABINGTON'S SPRING CLEAN-UP - PHOTO SPECIAL


Click on the pictures to see image in full high quality.


THE NEW-LOOK Abington Bowls Club was officially opened on the night of Wednesday, April 10th 2013. Nearly a hundred members of both the bowls and tennis clubs turned out to herald the completion of stage 1 of president Dave Vernon's makeover plans.



Hopefully this is just the beginning of the next big chapter in Abington history. As the sport of bowls struggles to deal with an ever decreasing player base, this club hopes to fight on as a key venue within the community and beyond.


It's long been known among the membership that to bring more people in to make use of the facilities, the facilities themselves needed altering. Not hugely, but the 70s decor definitely needed to go on the grounds of taste, and what remained all needed a sprucing up.



But it wasn't until the election of Vernon last December that someone prepared to energise that change got into the necessary position. Straight away his predecessor Reg Jones was putting his skills and experience to good use and the bar area had a new lowered ceiling, with much improved lighting.





Secondly, the walls and skirting boards were given their first significant paint job in many years. Both this and the lowering of the ceiling necessitated the temporary removal of the honours boards, and even when they were put back up, they were re-arranged. So now, only the contemporary ones are kept downstairs. All the historical ones have been moved to the committee room upstairs.




The wall directly opposite the TV is now currently blank although plans are afoot for some new less bowls-centric decoration. However, the club crest is now flying high and mighty above the bar.




As the pictures below show, the bar itself has seen the biggest facelift. A new, much smoother formica top has replaced the old sky blue one, and the leather upholstery is gone.





New rose-red drapes are a great improvement on the tired, sun-bleached curtains that had grown ever more depressed with each passing year, and the new tables and chairs give off a much sunnier complexion than the previous ones. (First introduced in 2004, but seemingly far older given their swift depreciation. It would be fair to say they were never popular.)





Even the little differences made a big impression, particularly the new flora decoration and candle vases, though these will only be dug out for special occasions.




One thing that will not be going anywhere though is the brand new 42 inch television set. It was only a couple of years ago, for the digital switchover, that the last set was acquired, but it had always been too small for whole room, and Vernon was just one of several members who realised how the box needed greater prominence considering the appetite amongst both members and customers for watching sport on it.



Club funds have not stretched far enough to include the full Sky/BT Sport package, but rationing it to Freeview should at least ensure it's best left for only major occasions.
Now, at least those sitting at the far end need no longer squint or ask those sitting near the front what the score is.




And yet, despite all this, Vernon has indicated that he is only just getting started. The area behind the bar is next on his radar followed by a renovation of the main entrance. But for now, he can sit back and feel proud of inspiring the biggest and most necessary changes to the look of the club in a decade.




MARTIN TRASLER: 40 YEARS AND COUNTING


ONE man who has been an integral part for almost half of Abington BC’s life is greenkeeper, Martin Trasler, who celebrated a career spanning 40 years on March 1, 2011.


His first contact with the club came when his grandfather, Harry Cory, greenkeeper for the previous eight years, asked the 16-year-old to cut the boundary privet hedge.

“My pap had damaged his shoulder, so I helped him out on Saturday mornings for about half a crown. It was back-breaking work as the hedge was a bit overgrown and I only had hand shears” said Martin who will be 57 in July.

With Harry in failing health Martin was approached to take over full time, but was reluctant because he had just started work for the borough council. His main responsibility was tending the Racecourse bowling greens and he had visions of one day being in charge of his own park.

Harry also tried to put him off but new secretary Ron Gargate was as persistent off the green as he was powerful on it. “Ron and other members assured me I would be made very welcome and I was.  I started on £14 a week with a £1 rise on my birthday.”

Ron got his man and Martin has no regrets. At a conservative estimate he has walked 50,000 miles in the cause of Abington Bowling Club over the last 40 years. Just cutting the grass is around three miles.


Such is his dedication to the job that he would turn up at the club after 9pm to water the green and still be there at midnight, much to the annoyance of his girlfriend, now wife, Cheryl. “She would get a little upset but it was the only time I could get on to the green, one matches had finished,” said Martin.

Although there are still physically demanding tasks, it is a lot better now with a pop-up sprinkler system amongst other advances. His toughest maintenance period came in the summer of 1976, when the country was famously gripped by drought. It led to the well near his current worksop being pressed into action.

“We were legally entitled to water the green but with everyone suffering I felt guilty about it so we decided to use the well. It took several of weeks to clear out years of dumping. I was lowered into the well and filled up the bucket with all sorts of rubbish," recalled Martin. "All went well until someone let go of the bucket and it smacked me on the head. It hurt... a lot! We continued to use the well for years until the pump packed up and it was not financially worth replacing it."


If that was the hardest year, the saddest day was when Joe Soanes collapsed and died on the premises. Martin gave old Joe the kiss of life, but to no avail.

The demands of the job mean that summer holidays are at a premium, but Martin compensates by spending his summer weekends in his trailer at Cosgrove Park. And when his daughter Christine - a familiar Abington figure herself as a regular bar worker - got married in the Caribbean in 2009, it was the first time Martin had ever flown, or indeed been out of the country.

Job satisfaction comes from having an A-Grade green and encyclopaedic knowledge of grass maintenance, which has prompted suppliers to ask him to endorse their products. He never has.

But it is a fragile relationship between bowlers who want the green lightning fast and Martin's determination to make sure the green lasts the entire season.

"Over the years different committe members have tried to make me change my approach but I always stand my ground," says Martin. But as the seasons change and the days stretch out, one thing will remain the same - even all those many years of tending the 1,764 lush square metres of grass have never persuaded Martin to actually become a bowler.


*MEMBERS GAVE greenkeepers a hard time in the early years. In May 1922 'Fowler of Castle Ashby' was appointed groundsman. In December 1923 he had his contract terminated with no reasons given.

In July 1927 Frank Tomlinson (who at least had a first name) was dismissed for 'neglect of duty and misconduct'.

In September that year B Hardy, who started as an assistant in 1924,.was upgraded to groundsman at 40 shillings a week (working hours 8am to 7pm in the summer).

He was given an assistant in March the following year.


Chapter 25 of late former member Norman Vaughan's memoirs were devoted entirely to Abington. This chapter alone runs to several thousand words, Here are some of the highlights of his thoughts:

When I was at the Grammar School, I with my friends sometimes used to divert via Abington Park on the way home and by so doing our route took us pass a large privet hedge in Park Avenue South. I often wondered what was behind that hedge and my chance came to find out when I was approached one day by my friend Vic Brown.

Vic asked me if I would like to join his Bowls Club and thinking it might be nice to play an active game, I agreed and that is how I joined the Abington Bowling Club in Park Avenue, behind that intriguing hedge.

After I retired, I played on both days when required, although it wasn’t all that easy to get a game with a club membership of about 130 and only 24 needed on Thursdays and 48 on Saturdays and naturally the best players were usually selected.

At the time of writing the membership of the club has declined to about 70 men and 30 ladies and I regret to say people don’t seem very interested in playing bowls and joining the club, not that we are alone as all the other clubs are experiencing the same problem.  I don’t know why and even Golf clubs have vacancies for members, something unheard of a few years ago.

The highlight of my bowling career must be when I was elected President of Abington Bowling Club in 2001 and that was a very proud moment for me; although I always maintained it was because they couldn’t get anybody else to do the job.

By then,though, I had spent about 15 years on the committee and ten of them as Bar Chairman, looking after the Bar and supervising generally overall and working to keep the club running smoothly with Martin, our Greenkeeper.

I enjoyed those times, but in the end they were very time consuming, especially in the evenings and I resigned.

One of the main features of bowling is entering into competitions, either in County competitions, your own club ones or both. I did try the County a couple of times, but soon realised they were too competitive for me as I played the game more for sport than the glory of winning trophies.

When more time was available to me, I entered into our club comps., but I didn’t enjoy much success in the singles and the farthest I got was as ‘ Runner-up’ in three of them over the years and I don’t think I was competitive enough when in a winning position and let it slip too much.

I was good enough to be singles snooker Champion one year and received a trophy, which I still have after 30 years.

The popularity of snooker started to wane with the advent of the building of an Indoor Bowling Green in Northampton, when members preferred playing bowls in the evenings, instead of socialising at the club for a drink etc.

In a way the Indoor Club was a boon, but with the ‘drink-driving law’, it has killed off most of the social activities of the majority of clubs, with very few members getting there in the evenings.

Recently, to try and bring a bit more life in, I have started a ‘Cribbage Drive’ once a month and at the moment it is going quite well, but I don’t know how long it will remain so and we will have to wait and see.

You may wonder why I write so much about Abington Bowls Club, but I must confess it has played a big part in my life and I don’t begrudge a moment of it, but I suspect Eileen did at times, especially when I was Bar-chairman and had to spend a lot of time in the evenings behind the Bar. She didn’t say a lot, but I think she was relieved when I finally retired after ten years unremitting service.