Home of the Somerton Seagulls

Somerton Bowling Club 2007 Renovations Video on Facebook.

The information below is a brief summary taken from the "SOMERTON BOWLING CLUB's first 50 YEARS Booklet". Please take time to read the Booklet.
The SBC 50 Years Booklet  (20MB pdf may take some time to download)
The Inception
On the 20th of February 1945 a group of gentlemen met at the Scout Hall, Walker Street, Somerton Park, to investigate the possibility of forming a bowling club in the Somerton area. A committee was formed which consisted of N.H. Pope (Chairman), F.W. Gingham, J. Morris, E.P. Lower, K. Hannaford, N. Bone, R. Morris and A.J. Palk.

At a subsequent meeting held in the Methodist Hall, Bath Street, Glenelg, those attending were told that the Brighton Council had agreed to lease portion of the Somerlea Reserve to the proposed Somerton Bowling Club for a period of 25 years at an annual rental of £1-0-0.

At a meeting held on the 20th of April 1945 it was decided that the Mayor of Brighton, (W.S. Walsh, Esq), be invited to be Patron of the Club and it has been a tradition of the Somerton Bowling Club, from that day that the incumbent Mayor of the Corporation of the City of Brighton be the Patron of the Club.
Establishment of Facilities

At this juncture, the building of the clubhouse was deferred, but the provision of watering facilities and the construction of the greens, was begun. By the end of June a bore had been sunk, bricked and roofed by the secretary (A.J. Palk), and Herbert Blight was employed to plant the greens - his remuneration to be £5-0-0 for a 44 hour week.

By the end of 1945, a brush fence with concrete plinth and posts had been constructed around the 6 rink green, which was under construction. The concreting work was undertaken voluntarily by members and the brushwork carried out by Herbert Blight at the cost of £2-0-0 for labour – which he later donated to the Club.

The bore had been completed to a depth of 28 feet, with water being available at 16 feet, an electric motor installed at the bore head and the electricity connected to the motor. 1¼ʺ piping had been laid around the greens. This allowed for adequate supply of water, independent of the mains supply, which proved to be invaluable later on when water restrictions were introduced.  
Beginning of Administration
The rules and regulations of the new Club – based on the existing Rules of the Holdfast Bay Bowling Club (with suitable amendments and additions) were prepared. The committee also recommended that the Club become incorporated.

The foundation president, N.H. (Norm) Pope was a driving force during this period and his foresight and leadership laid a solid foundation for the efficient administration of the Club over the next fifty years.

                                                The Formative Years

Beginning of Competitions

The committee made an application to the South Australian Bowling Association for affiliation. With a membership of just 45, it nominated a team of eight players in the 2-rink section for Saturday Pennant matches and a team of sixteen players in the 4th Division (Red). Only two players in this side had ever played in the pennant competition and so it was not surprising that the Club finished bottom of the ladder in that division.
Official Opening
On the 12th of October 1946 the Club was officially opened. Committeeman Joe Morris had submitted plans for a Clubhouse to serve both the Somerton Bowling Club and the adjoining Somerlea Tennis Club, but the general committee had decided to defer such expenditure until the Club's financial position had improved.
Consequently the Club "facilities" on the open day were two army tents. In the presence of a good attendance of members and guests, the President (Norm Pope), put down the first kitty and the Secretary (A.J. Palk) put down the first bowl.
This was a year of steady progress for the new Club. £275-0-0 was raised by the issue of debentures and additional membership fees. The committee was able to authorise the commencement of the new Club house. The plans, as prepared by Joe Morris, were accepted and he was authorised to purchase materials for the first stage of the construction. The Brighton Council advised of its willingness to advance a loan of £200-0-0 to the Club, repayable in ten one-yearly payments, interest free.

By September, the 3-rink green had been planted and the 7-rink green had been levelled and top dressed in preparation for 1947/48 season.
The purchase of an electric roller for the Club was greeted with delight by the volunteer members of the Club, who were required to hand roll the greens prior to each match.

Membership at the beginning of the 1947/48 season was 38 and 16 players were nominated for Wednesday pennants and 32 for Saturday pennants.
Night bowls (The Electric Light Competition) at Somerton Bowling Club began. A fee of £1-0-0 was charged with a one shilling per night levy on those who were playing this competition. There was an annual subscription of £2-0-0.

Phase two of the building programme had been completed and the facilities for the serving of afternoon teas were available. The General Meeting approved of the annual subscription for full membership being increased to £4-0-0.

Towards the end of the 1947/48 season, an act of vandalism caused much damage to the greens. However, the Club, with the assistance of the Greenkeepers Association managed to repair the damage and it is on record that the greens were in excellent condition for the opening of the season.
As a token of appreciation, President Perc Lower presented a trophy (The Phenyl Cup), to be played for, annually between the Club and the Greenkeepers Association.
During this year, steady progress was made on the Clubhouse facilities and its surroundings. A slate path was constructed along the full length of the Clubhouse. A fence was erected from the Clubhouse to the western boundary and rose gardens were established.

The incumbent Mayor of Brighton, W.S. Walsh, Esq., presented a trophy (The Walsh Shield) to be competed for annually between Marion, Somerton and Brighton Bowling Clubs. This trophy was contested until 1986/87, when it was won by Somerton. Of the 38 times played, the winners were Marion (25), Somerton (9), and Brighton (4).
The extensions and improvements to the Clubhouse continued and by the end of 1950, the new portion of the Clubhouse was floored, curtains installed and new chairs provided. In addition, a much needed tool shed had been constructed.
*It is notable that the value of the Club's property in 1950 was £1,100 ($2,200) in comparison with the value in the 2014 of over $1,200,000. Membership at this time stood at 83 full members and 13 Electric Light members.

The Club had three pennant teams on Saturdays (Division 4, 5 and 6) and two teams on Wednesdays – both in Division 3
The Jubilee Australian Bowling Carnival was held in Adelaide in 1951 and it was the first time that the Club had competed. A large majority of the visiting players praised the condition of the Somerton greens and the Club had the privilege of entertaining thirty visiting players at a social evening.

During the year, house improvements consisted of the installation of a bar with cooling equipment to allow for the serving of refreshments and also the employment of a barman for Saturday afternoons, at 15 shillings per afternoon. It is interesting to note that, although the Club had this new bar, the then President and his committee decreed that on mixed evenings at the Club, only soft drinks, tea and coffee would be served!

On the 31st of November 1951, the Club became an incorporated body. It was also in this year that the E.W. Percival Shield for annual competition between Glenelg and Somerton Bowling Clubs was inaugurated.

At the end of the 1951/52 pennant season, the Somerton Club had met with varied success. The 5th Division team finished second, thereby earning elevation to Division 4, whilst Wednesday 3rd Division won a pennant, earning promotion to Division 2.
Due to the lack of finances, very little was done in 1952/53 for the improvement of Club facilities. To this end, the immediate Past President appealed to the members for greater support by means of debentures. Such was the financial situation that the Secretary was empowered to apply for a temporary overdraft of £200 from the Bank of New South Wales.

The year 1952/53 was not a good year for the bowlers. Two of the four Saturday pennant teams and one of the Wednesday teams were relegated to lower divisions.
In addition, the annual competitions for the Barnes Shield, the Percival Shield and the Walsh Shield were all lost to the Holdfast, Glenelg and Brighton Clubs respectively.
During the year, the extensions to the Clubhouse again proceeded due to the generosity of one of the Club members who preferred to remain anonymous. The Clubhouse was also lined and ceiled, and this was made possible by two members (also anonymous) lending the Club sufficient money to cover the cost, interest free.

The year proved to be a much better year from the bowling aspect. The Division 3 team won the Club's first Saturday Pennant.
The domestic achievements for 1955 saw the addition of a kitchen, Secretary's office and additional conveniences at a cost of approximately £1,000 – the finance obtained mostly from the borrowing of £800.

The Pennant season resulted in two teams gaining promotion – on Saturday and one Wednesday team – whilst the annual Shield competitions resulted in:
    Barnes Shield          regained by Holdfast
    Walsh Shield           won by Brighton
    Somerton Shield      retained by Somerton
    Percival Shield         retained by Glenelg
    Phenyl Shield          Greenkeepers defeated Somerton 63-45                                   
1956 - 60
During the next five years several events of historic interest occurred.
In June 1956 the Club made the final payment (£34-1-3) to the Brighton council for the £200 loan granted by them in 1947, a much appreciated gift of an Honour Board was presented to the Club by a member (Bert Fyffe) and the Treasurer was authorised to organise a fund for the purpose of the repayment of debentures.

In 1958, the bowling prowess of the Club was brought to the fore by the fact that two of the Club members, Ern Cox and Tedder Renner, reached the semi and quarter finals respectively in the State Singles Championship.

In 1960 the last annual event for the Somerton Shield was played with Somerton defeating Gumeracha and retaining the Shield.
This year saw the construction of two extra rinks by reducing the western bank of the small green. This enabled the membership limit to be increased to 122. One of the Club members (Fred Bates), who had devoted much time and effort in assisting the Greenkeeper (Kevin Costello) with the construction of the additional rinks was rewarded with an honorarium of £50 plus his next two years of subscriptions fees.

Also this year saw the introduction of indoor bowls during the winter months. This was a popular innovation for many years, helping to keep the Club members together during the "off" season and maintaining a healthy social atmosphere in the Club, plus contributing to the bar profits. Interest in this Club facility waned, most certainly due to the advent of winter lawn bowls competition.

Season 1962/63 began with yet another conflict of opinions between the Greenkeeper and the committee, culminating in the resignation of the Greenkeeper. At a meeting held on the 9th of July 1963, the committee decided to employ Brian Williams of Bordertown as Greenkeeper at a wage of £20 per week. Brian retired after 32 years service. (31-1-95)
At a meeting held on the 9th of February 1964, it was resolved that afternoon tea for pennant matches would consist of scones with jam and cream and also cheese biscuits. This may have pleased the majority of the bowlers, but it certainly did not please Mrs O'Grady, the tea lady, who complained of the excessive washing up after afternoon tea, causing the committee to resort to using paper plates.
1965 - This year was a momentous year for the Club, as it saw the beginning of the acquisition of the extra ground so urgently needed for the extension of playing areas.

At a meeting between representatives of the Bowling Club and Somerlea Tennis Club, it was suggested that the Bowling Club would be responsible for the transfer of the Tennis Club to the park at the corner of Paringa and Margaret Avenues, Somerton Park.

Later that month, a Special General Meeting of the members of the Club empowered the general committee to borrow a sum not exceeding £14,000 by such means as available within the Club constitution for the of carrying out one, or all, of the following proposals:
a) Transfer the Somerlea Tennis Club to a designated site.
b) Establish a bowling green of 6 rinks on land at present occupied by the Somerlea Tennis Club – excess land to be used for car parking.
c) Extend or replace the Somerton Bowling Club's Clubhouse.

As a result of this decision by the members, a letter was forwarded to the Corporation of Brighton outlining the proposals, and seeking Council approval to allow the proposals to be implemented.

Negotiations for the acquisition of the Somerlea Tennis Club continued for another two years before a conclusion was reached. Minor set backs were encountered such as, although the Saint Phillips Sports committee were willing to offer two courts at Paringa Park for £829, the Somerlea Club did not agree with the two court proposition. Further, local residents in the Paringa Park area had raised objections to the Council and this matter had been further deferred by the Council.

A team in Division 3 Gold (Saturday) consisting of Leo Guiney, Des Taylor, Bill Guiney and Eddie Edwards who were playing against Stirling, won 22 of the 25 ends played, to record a victory of 50 shots to 5. It was coincidental that the Stirling team was skippered by Tom Biddis, a foundation member of Somerton!
The great win of 1965 was surpassed in 1966 when a Division 5 White (Saturday) four of Joe Nash, Tom Dally, George Paine and Jim Clarke, playing against Salisbury, scored on 23 ends for a 52 to 2 victory.
During 1967, Club members Bill Fox and Hugh Theakstone were appointed as Club representatives to negotiate a proposal to:
a) Relocate the Glenelg Congregational and Trinity Methodist Church Tennis Clubs from the Paringa Park Reserve to a site in the West Torrens Council area.
b) Transfer Saint Phillips Tennis Club to its own Church property.
c) Somerlea Tennis Club to take over the lease of six courts at the Paringa Park Reserve – with Somerton Bowling Club to provide a Clubhouse.
d) Somerton Bowling Club to take over the Somerlea Tennis Club's present courts and embodying this area in its current lease.
By October 1967, all arrangements had been completed, and Brighton Council had approved the transfer of Somerlea Tennis Club to Paringa Park Reserve.

On the 31st December that year, Somerton was privileged to be selected to host the final of the State Pairs Championships which was duly won by Colin Winkler and Des Moran of the Walkerville Club.
At the end of the 1968/69 bowling season, work was commenced on the establishment of the new greens. The Greens committee recommended that twelve rinks of couch grass be established on the area vacated by the tennis Club.
To this end, Brighton Council agreed to provide reasonable assistance in removing the vacated tennis courts and the new greens were laid in October of that year.
It had been hoped that the new greens would be available for play by December 1969, but the official opening day was extended to the 11th of April 1970 when the ceremony was carried out by Harold Leedham, President if the Australian Bowling Council.

There were significant alterations to the Clubhouse, with extensions to the eastern end of the building, to provide a locker room and a ladies' toilet was provided. Improvements were also made in the men's toilets.

It was also at the Annual General Meeting held on the 10th of July 1970, that the committee recognised the value of the work done by Fred Pengilly and elected him an Honorary Life Member of the Club. Fred continued to give valuable service to the Club until his sudden death in September 1994.
During 1971, the "multi-purpose chocolate wheel" was introduced into the Club. This wheel, designed and built by a Club member (Tom Crabbe) was a wall mounted wheel approximately 4 feet in diameter which allows for a single or simultaneous drawing of raffles in all of 50, 75, or 100 ticket series. It replaced the small portable wheel which served the Club for so many years in raising funds
The Australian National Championships were held in South Australia during January/February of 1972. The Somerton Bowling Club provided greens and catering on seven days of play.

By the end of 1972 the Club, through the diligence of Jack Mackie, Stan Rogers and Fred Pengilly, had been granted a restricted full licence by the Licensing Court. As a result of this, the committee placed on record their appreciation to a member, Handly Tilden of the Broadway Hotel, for his assistance to the Club over many years prior to the Club being granted a licence.
In 1974, the then Mayor of Brighton, Mr L. McD. Scott, donated a sum of money for a perpetual trophy for competition between Brighton, Brighton RSL and Somerton Bowling Clubs. It was decided to name this trophy the Scott Shield in respect to the donor
Changes at the Club during the 1978/79 season saw the installation of an automatic watering system at a cost of $9,150 which was financed by the Club. Subsequent additions to the system were carried out in 1982 at a cost of $600.

It was decided that in view of the number of players wishing to play on Tuesdays, Fox's Fowls Pairs would in future become a triples competition and that pairs would be played on each Thursday.

At a November committee meeting it was resolved that a three year programme would be implemented to:
a) Replace B green couch with Tifdwarf.
b) Split C green with a north/south path to provide a 7-rink North/ South and East/West green and a 4-rink North/South green.
c) Replace A green with Tifdwarf.                                                               
Bowling Achievements of 1971-1980
Some of the more noteworthy bowling achievements during the 1971-1980 period were the winning of the Division 5 State Fours by Somerton members on two occasions.
In 1972/73, the four of N. Lee, B. Monaghan, V. Leary and F. Brooks was successful and the 1975/76 event was won by J. Stewart, L May (sub), R. Soar, J. Tuckwell and J. Sharley.

In addition, the 1978/79 RSABA State Pairs Championship was won by H.R. Pike and C.G. Lloyd.
This was a year in which the Club began the expansion of the Clubhouse facilities. The first major alterations and additions were carried out at a cost of $107,000. The western half of the Clubhouse was rebuilt, locker room and committee room were built. In addition, the kitchen was rebuilt and modern cooking equipment installed.

1980/81 season heralded the beginning of the committee's three year plan to upgrade the playing areas and this project was duly completed by the beginning of the 1982/83 season. The alteration to the Clubhouse had been completed and the Clubroom's social area was supplemented by the provision of an additional 52 chairs and 13 tables.
Brighton Council policy of "peppercorn rental" for sporting bodies occupying Council owned land was changed and the Club was advised that in future, the annual rental for the Somerton Bowling Club occupied property would be $1,000 per annum. The rate to be adjusted each three years in conformity with fluctuations in the Council rate charges.
1982/83 saw the introduction of the Hotel Invitation Fours.
The only major works carried out in 1983/84 was the construction of a brush fence on the southern side of the Club playing area at a cost of $10,000 which was financed by the Club.

The 19th of November 1983 was a day to be remembered by Saturday players. On that day all eight Club sides recorded victories, with all players that evening appreciating the President's traditional "shout". This must have acted as an incentive for the Wednesday players, as a few matches later, they also won all of their five matches, a feat they were to repeat in February 1985.

The Australian National Championships were held in Adelaide during February 1983 and the Somerton Bowling Club was appointed by the RSABA to act as hosts to the Western Australian players (104) plus officials and accompanying ladies and this was to be proved a most successful relationship.

Of particular historical note of this occasion is that a Somerton Club member (Dennis King) was invited to play as a substitute in a Western Australian Four and this four reached the final, only to be beaten by a four from New South Wales
Major alterations were again being made to the Clubhouse. The bar lounge was enlarged by relocating the locker room to what was previously the committee room – which in turn was shifted to a room created by adding an upper floor to the existing building. The bar lounge was re-carpeted and provided with new chairs and additional tables. Improved kitchen facilities enabled catering for up to 175 persons for dinner dances etc.

This season was also memorable one for the Saturday Pennant players. They won five pennants from the eight teams competing with one other team finishing second and another third, so gaining seven out of eight divisional promotions for the season. In addition, on the 20th of February 1988, the Saturday players emulated their 1983 performance with all eight teams being victorious.                                       

Bowling Achievements for 1981-1990                                                           
Some of the more notable bowling achievements by the Club during the period 1981-1990 were:
a) Won the RSL Coopers Round Robin Fours in 1980/81 and 1981/82.
b) Won the RSL West End Fours in 1981/82, 1983/84 and 1986/87.
c) A team comprising M. McMahon, L. Phillips, J. McCarthy and H. Nicholas won the 1981/82 RSABA Fifth Division Fours
d) 1988/89 B Grade Metropolitan Fours Championship won by F. Dew, C. Moule, F. Elliot and F. Mitchell.
e) 1988/89 RSABA Division 2 State Triples Championship won by F. Dew, F. Elliot and F. Mitchell.
f) 1989/90 RSABA Division 2 State triples Championship won by F. Byrnes, F. Elliot and A. Hurst.
1990 - 1992
With the Club now fully established, the emphasis on progress could only happen by extending the amenities for the members and a drive to further the bowling achievements of the Club. To this extent, the Club in 1992 completely rebuilt the men's toilets at a cost of $24,750 (financed by the Club) and embarked on a programme of recruiting established top division players to augment the already talented young members of the Club.

Early in the '90s, the committee decided that winter lawn bowls would be an excellent method of keeping Club members together and at the same time allowing them competitive practice. To this end, Wednesday and Saturday bowls competitions were introduced and proved to be very popular. Unfortunately, the advent of this innovation spelled the doom of the once popular indoor bowls.
1996 - 2001
Senior members of the Club recognised Somerton never won a 1 Red Pennant (Premier1), We had numerous successes at the lower levels but never Premier 1. Against this background an approach was made to SA leading bowler Andrew Smith to join the Club as Playing Coach.

At that particular time the Club occupied the position in 1 White ( Premier (2) and given that Andrew was ranked highly Australia wide it surprised many that he accepted an offer to join a Club not performing at the top level. In Andrew's first year as coach Somerton came second in Premier 2 which enabled the Club to be promoted to Premier 1 the following year.

This resulted in a great deal of excitement in the Club in that prominent bowlers from elsewhere choose to join the Club. Somerton then became a powerful presence in the SA Bowling World. Andrew departure after 4 years never the less left a legacy which resulted in the one and only Premier 1 pennant the following year.
The Club appointed John Mills an experienced Green Keeper who made and enormous impact on the greens. He closed the green for the entire winter period that allowed him to raise the standard of the greens.
The Club decided to start a Night Owls competition with 5 rinks occupied.
The Club changed from all white uniform to the current Somerton Seagulls uniform.
Somerton won the 1Red pennant Night Owls had a very successful season with 20 teams on Tuesday and 18 teams on Thursday.
A Building inspection of the Clubhouse was undertaken after the incident at the Riverside Golf Club accident. Eighteen matters required attention, have all matters have been resolved.
A cool room was installed in the Kitchen.
A small group of concerned members met and decided that in the 21st century it was undesirable to remain an all male institution. After several meetings it was decided to call a Special General Meeting to present a proposal to the members to allow women membership of the Club. The initial proposal was defeated but at the subsequent AGM in June the proposal to accept women membership was successful.

Lights were installed on "C" & "D" rinks
The committee decided the facilities needed to be upgraded. Initial "draft plans" were drawn up by Club member Colin Rugless and final designs and specifications were completed by Fred Bekker. Due to the interest and background of Kevin Woolidge, a building contractor, Mark Moss Homes P/L was engaged to reconstruct the Clubhouse. Approx 20 members of the Club provided significant voluntary labour to assist the contractor. The reconstructed Clubhouse took twelve weeks to complete.

A Gala event was held to celebrate the completion of the reconstructed Clubhouse. Bruce McAveny was the guest speaker at the night.

Ladies representing the Somerton Bowling Club for the first time in 60 years won a Pennant.
Turf Management company D & D Curators were engaged to maintain the Somerton bowling greens.

Somerton Premier 1 team on Wednesday were Pennant winners.
The area adjacent to B green was paved with "Somerton Seagulls" emblazoned through the middle to improve the area under the verandah.
20th of February 2015 is the 70th anniversary of the first meeting to establish the Somerton Bowling Club.