Bowls club welcomes in outdoor season with two presidents among its ranks
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich and District Indoor Bowling Club marks new outdoor season with
Somebody should really tell the weather, but spring is here, and for the Ipswich and District Indoor Bowling Club that means its outdoor rink is open for the new flat green bowls season, which runs from April 21 to the middle of September.
The shift of focus to the lawn green comes at a time of momentous firsts for the club, in Rushmere Road. Young bowling talent Katherine Rednall, who plays for the club’s indoor team and at 22 is already three-time World Indoor Bowls Champion, is now on Australia’s Gold Coast in preparation for her first Commonwealth Games.
On top of Katherine’s singular achievement, the club is proud to announce that the Suffolk presidents for the two “codes” of flat green bowls in the country, Bowls England and the English Bowling Federation, are both Ipswich and District members, a previously unheard of achievement.
Trevor Lord, the new Suffolk Federation president, compares the two codes to the similar variants, union and league, in rugby, which are still recognisably the same sport. The federation is made up of teams from 13 counties along the east of England, while Bowls England, represented in Suffolk by the club’s Mike Walker, governs the sport all over the country. Ipswich and District has teams in both codes.
Among Trevor’s duties as president will be to travel with the Suffolk County Bowls Federation senior team as they defend their trophy at the National Finals.
There are only around 20 indoor bowls clubs in England so Ipswich and District, with its six rinks and excellent facilities gets its pick of some of East Anglia’s best players – Katherine is based in Stowmarket – and attracts more than 800 members. The outdoor rink has a far smaller membership, with a raft of other lawn bowls clubs in the county, but Trevor always looks forward to the outdoor season and believes Ipswich and District still has much to distinguish itself on and off the grass.
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He says: “We have around 50 members at the moment, but we are certainly looking for more. You get to play on one of the best kept greens in the county and the outdoor bowlers still get the use of the excellent facilities here. We have a bistro, a bar and an entertainment venue.
“It’s a friendly club and we welcome beginners. There are players here who are happy to offer coaching and advice.”
Trevor has played at county level in both codes and while he now plays just for “enjoyment” he says there is still nothing like playing bowls outside.
“I love to get out and about and visit other clubs when we play matches,” he says. “It’s great to be out in the fresh air, although you are at the mercy of the weather. We are not like cricketers who run inside at the first sign of rain.”
Trevor also loves the challenge the elements bring to lawn green bowls in contract to the more straightforward indoor version.
He says: “With an indoor green it stays fairly true so the ball travels at a constant speed. Outside, dependent on the weather, there is a different challenge very day.”
Ipswich and District club manager Lee Rowland, who is ranked 33rd in the UK on the Open Singles circuit this year, is also aware of the greater demands of the outdoor game. “Indoors it is like bowling on a snooker table, but outdoors you really have to give it some welly.”
Lee also believes the challenges of outdoor play require some wiles born of experience and says older bowlers tend to do better in lawn green bowling while indoors is a young person’s game.
He says: “Indoors suits a younger bowler as they seem to do better with the repetition once you’ve found your line. Outdoors is more difficult and I think it requires a bit more experience. Older players do tend to be more successful.”
It may surprise some that any version of bowls is the domain of the young – with the genteel sport still considered by some a pastime for pensioners. Trevor makes an important distinction.
“It is a sport that all ages can play, we have members from eight to 88, but to play it at the highest level you need youth on your side.”
It’s not surprising to learn then that both Lee and Trevor started playing from a very young age – as did Katherine. It is also interesting to note that they were all introduced to the sport through their parents. Katherine’s father is the England international John Rednall, Lee was introduced to the Ipswich and District when he was 14 years old by his mum and dad, “both good club bowlers” and Trevor’s father and grandfather both played and introduced him to the sport as a teenager.
“Most of the youngsters here have come through because their parent or grandparent plays,” says Trevor.
Such multi-generational appeal runs through the Ipswich and District club, which would love to bring in new players – young and old, male and female – for the outdoor season.
In the meantime, both Trevor and Lee are quietly confident Katherine is going to make a name for herself, and the club, at the Commonwealth games.
“The greens are quick there and she is a great indoor bowler,” says Lee. “The greens will suit her.”
Trevor would not be surprised if Katherine brings home a medal. “She is incredible,” he says. “If I was a betting man I would have her down as the champion at the Games.”
If Katherine’s achievements have inspired you or you have always fancied giving bowling a try, call the Ipswich and District club on 01473 712601 or visit here