INAUGURATION

The first meeting of the “Falkirk and District Carpet Bowling League” was held at Camelon Juniors Club on Wednesday, 9 October 1974.

Five clubs were represented (Camelon Juniors, Camelon Bowling Club, S.T.D., Carronshore and Westquarter) and a further two expressed an interest (Ochiltree and Polmont).

FIRST SEASON

Davy Paul and D Vause were elected as the inaugural chairman and secretary, respectively, with D Vause voted into the post of registration secretary the following year.

The first league champions were Westquarter who after a play-off with Camelon Juniors at Carronshore lifted what was then known as the MacLay Trophy.

LEAGUE EXPANSION

The following year, it was agreed that clubs could enter more than one team. As a result, membership rose to 10 teams from eight clubs with Zetland joining and both Ochiltree and Camelon Bowling Club adding a “B” team.

Numbers continued to rise and by 1981 the league was split into two sections of eight teams with the top team from each section contesting a play-off to determine the league champions.

Membership peaked in 1990 with two leagues of 12 teams and the added excitement of promotion and relegation.

CUP COMPETITIONS

Knock-out competitions for singles, pairs and rinks which have been running since the second season were complimented by a triples in 1979. The play-offs for each of which were often staged at two separate venues with the finals taking place at one venue on a designated finals day.

Open, handicap and team competitions (sometimes as many as four per season) have included those in memory of Joe Rutherford from Dockers B, the inaugural chairman Davy Paul and former secretary Martin Ryan. The latter of which continues to this day in the form of the league cup.

POINTS & PLAY-OFFS

Over the years, various scoring systems have been utilised such as: 2 points for a win and 1 point for a draw; 4 points for 6-0, 3 points for 5-1, 2 points for 4-2 and 1 point for a draw; and the current system of 1 point for every game won.

Similarly, on the rare occasion when two or more teams tie on points, there have been a number of methods used to determine the league champions: home and away play-offs; shot difference; head-to-head results; and the current method of a play-off at a neutral venue.

TEA FOR TWO

By the mid-90s, concerns were raised not only about the increasing length of the season, but also the increasing length of matches which prompted one member to report "some games not finishing until after midnight at certain clubs."

Previous solutions included an 11pm curfew, the forgoing of trial ends and a points deduction for teams not starting on time. However a fresh proposal to have "no tea break" was unanimously defeated!

45TH ANNIVERSARY

With the decline of local industry and the closure of a number of social, sporting and community clubs including ICI, Dockers, Alexanders, British Steel Corporation (Chemicals), Polmont British Legion, Laurieston, Westquarter and the Glen, membership naturally subsided.

And though it was minuted that there was “a lack of interest” in the annual dance of 1995, ticket sales for the following year's prize-giving ceremony exceeded 160!

An appetite which continues to this day with the Falkirk & District Carpet Bowling League celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2019 with annual sponsorship of £200 from MGM Timber.

MIND YOUR P'S AND Q'S

Not everything in the garden of carpet bowls has been rosy, however, as tempers have frayed over everything from the size of the jack and the width of the policeman to the age of competitors and the perennial bugbear - the rearrangement of postponed matches.

Though, to end on a lighter note, nothing comes close to the following fiery exchange from a truly extraordinary general meeting in the early 90s:

"When meeting was closed by vice-chairman, [a member] approached top table and said: 'I resign from f****** executive committe as from now, this meeting was pure p***!'"