A BOWLING club established 82 years ago is taking drastic steps in the hope it can return to its glory days.

Sunny Rhyl Bowling Club, at the Botanical Gardens in Rhyl, has been the victim of crass vandalism. The green now has dents, caused by people who “deliberately” cycle over the grass with bikes and motorbikes, and has become a ‘hot spot’ for school flights.

Mike Stanley, who has been president of the club for 10 years, said the state of the green used to be classed as “the best in North Wales”.

Plans are now in place to build a six-foot-fence in order to protect the green from further mindless acts. Grants of £11,000 have been secured.

“The club is one of the founding members of the North Wales Bowling Association,” Mike said.

“It is the original North Wales bowling green.

Rhyl Journal:

Mike is making a desperate appeal for new members. Picture: Geoff Abbott

“Over the last seven, eight years the amount of vandalism provided by anybody who cycles across our green and makes grooves and bumps in it which we cannot control. They even cycle across it on motorbikes, and it is purposely done. When you try and stop them, they just ride up to us and say ‘what are you going to do?’ It has had a huge impact on the green. When we roll our balls they bounce in the grooves. You can see the tyre marks.

“The crash of the finances meant the council did not look after the green as it used to and so they handed it to us and it unfortunately has deteriorated over the past five seasons.

“We have tried out best but we have nearly closed because of the state of the green.

“We’ve also had kids fighting on it.”

Rhyl Journal:

The green is hoping the fence will keep out unwanted visitors. Picture: Geoff Abbott

The club is hoping the drastic measures will protect the green from mindless visitors and encourage new members to join.

“It is a last resort,” Mike said.

I called in Chris Ruane, MP for Vale of Clwyd, who gave me a load of information. He started the ball rolling and we have a grant for a two-metre fence around our green. We are hoping it can be in place by early April .

Grants required were more than £11,000 which have come from three companies - NPower, PACT (Police and Communities Together) and North Royal Energy.

The club is also making a desperate appeal for new members.

Sunny Rhyl has below 20 members but in its heyday, had between 50 and 60.

Mike said: “It was regular, year after year. We have never had such a low membership.

“We use to hold major tournaments here. In the late 90s and early 2000, maybe even as late as 2006, The Welsh Open Championships was played on our green. The singles, doubles and mixed and they came from all around Lancashire, Yorkshire and Staffordshire with the council putting up a trophy and money as prizes.

Rhyl Journal:

Chris Ruane, MP for Vale of Clwyd, with Mike

“We are hoping that this action attracts new members. We also want to encourage more juniors and when the fence is in place, we hope to go round the schools to ask the children if they want to play.

“This is the plight of the members who are still here, to try and recruit more people. As there is so few of us, we all have to play all the time because we don’t have enough. You need 18 maximum to play four days in four leagues. I only use to play Tuesday, I now have to join in most days.

“Most of the council-owned clubs are enclosed, so that won’t make a difference to the game. The long-term aim will be to restore the green and get it in playing order, but that will take time. If the fence can go up in April, I will be happy.

“Anyone who wishes to come and join you will be very welcome and we will make sure we listen to what your attributes are and we will play you in our teams.”

Rhyl Journal:

Mike said the club has below 20 members. Picture: Geoff Abbott

The club is open to new members and there will be reduced membership fee for the first year.

Mr Ruane said: “Playing bowls can have a number of health benefits both physical and mental.

“By participating people can improve their fitness, coordination and skill development, confidence and self-esteem, enhanced mental wellbeing and community involvement and support.

“Everyone, whether young or not so young, could benefit from participating and by joining the very friendly Sunny Rhyl Bowling Club they have the opportunity to do so.

“I have met with the club and you can be assured of a very warm welcome.”

Anyone interested in joining can come down to the green or can telephone Mike on 01745 354279.

To see Mike speak about the plight of the club, watch the video at www.rhyjournal.co.uk