Last update 09/11/2020


We’ve never seen anything quite like it, but obviously the situation was not unique to ourselves.

2020 started in hope, rather than expectation. As a club, during 2019 we had held our own in the Rother League and most other external competitions in which we were entered, winning the Bayham & Lamberhurst tournament and retaining the Fairwin Trophy. The green had stood up very well bearing in mind the long hot dry spells and so we were looking forward to improving rather than simply maintaining what we had.

And then the rain came, and then Covid-19 came, and then the sun came!

At the beginning of 2020 we had relentless rain which meant that our usually very well drained green couldn’t cope and we ended up with puddles in areas where we had not seen them before. Growth in these areas was severely retarded. Just when we would have seen a growth spurt the weather changed. It became as dry as it had been wet, and it wasn’t just warm, it was hot! This happened to coincide with lockdown when nobody could go anywhere, except for Barnard Castle! I cannot remember ever having to use sprinklers in April and May. No matter how much one tries, they are no substitute for proper rain. Over all the result was that we arrived at what would normally have been our open day with a green which was playable, but not looking at all good.

By now, of course, we were in lockdown. This did not preclude us from maintaining the green, indeed, some of us treated it as our ‘Borisercise’. But it did mean that we had to severely limit the number of people allowed at the club at any one time and we had to put together our own rules governing access and behaviour whilst on site. The opening of the green was delayed. The silver lining was that we had more time to work on the green, enabling us to pull it back into shape, ready for the recommencement of bowling if and when it was allowed.

That day finally came. We made the decision that we would only open the green for practice by members, once again, writing clear and strict rules which had to be abided by in order to keep the members as safe as possible. It was pleasing to see members taking the opportunity to enjoy a bit of relaxed sociable, but socially distanced, bowling, whilst showing total respect for the procedures which we had put in place.

Shortly before we closed the green Graham proposed, organised and ran an informal, and very successful, competition which was won by Geoff Foot, his maiden competition win within the club.

The club had to make some tough decisions during the year.  Knowing that we would not be receiving income from match fees, match day raffles and general fundraising it was decided that we needed to collect membership fees as normal even though there was a real possibility that members would gain no benefit from being a member during the year. Not only did ALL members renew, but we were also delighted to welcome a few NEW members. FANTASTIC!

Another casualty of Covid is our AGM which is meant to be held on the third Thursday of November. It has been agreed to defer this until no later than 31st March 2021, hopefully to be held at a time when members can attend in the flesh. Until then the current committee remains in place and functioning. In the meantime our annual accounts have been passed by our independent examiner.

On the social side things were inevitably limited, however, during January, February and March we did hold informal get-togethers at the club. The idea was to keep members in touch during the closed season. These proved to be highly successful with most members showing their faces at some point. It quickly became obvious that we have some very competitive card sharks within our membership even though the pennies for which we were playing were all returned to the kitty at the end of the afternoon.

Finally, to finish off the year, work continues at the club. The green is looking great with very few areas that are underperforming. All being well the ditch timbers at the clubhouse end will be renewed and the gents loo is more or less being rebuilt.

So as we prepare to move into 2021 we’re quietly excited, but who knows…

Author Mr Keith Sellens