June - Club Victoria Inc.
Morwell Bowling Club100 Years of HistoryThe year was 1913 and Mr Aherin of Bank Australia was lookingfor members to establish a bowling club in Morwell.The Victorian Railway commission granted land for a fourrink bowling green to be constructed in Morwell and Mr Aherinmanaged to attract 41 people (from the town’s population ofapproximately 1100) to join his new team, most of whom had no ideawhat “bowling” was. The cost to join was just over two pounds, whichwas equivalent to two thirds of a weekly wage.From these humble beginnings, the Club went on to compete againstTraralgon, Boolarra, Warragul, Trafalgar and Bairnsdale, forming aformidable team.and sporting clubs on a regular basis. Morwell Bowling Club hascome a long way from the early days of 1913, when their littleknown sport was seen as a men’s only activity.If the Club’s current iconic status is any indication, then MorwellBowling Club is set to remain a cherished mainstay of our localcommunity.Meet General Manager, Jess Feather“We have a truly great team.” said Jess Feather of his colleagues atthe Morwell Bowling Club.In 1947 a ladies’ bowling team was established, enabling women toplay competitions in their own right (on the premise they “still takecare of the catering on Saturday nights”).A license to serve alcohol was granted in 1970 and the Club movedinto new premises on Hazelwood Road in 1948.From this time until 2013, the Morwell Bowling Club expanded,updated and refurbished its facilities to create a Club that caters forall occasions and entertainment. From a “business bowls function”to a “three course wedding”, the Morwell Bowling Club does notdisappoint.With the Club’s success came a welcomed commitment to the localcommunity, allowing considerable donations to be made to charities12 CLUBConnect May/June 2013
Meet Life Member, Frank Rowan“The Club gives a sense of belonging.” sprightly green-keeper FrankRowan said of the duties he performs at Morwell Bowling Club.Hail, rain or shine the active 82 year old assists with greensmaintenance, sets up pins and scoreboard, mows lawns and keepsthe bar area of the bistro clear of rubbish “I get to see everything,and really, what else am I going to do?I’d be bored, I’m not worried about TV.”As General Manager of the much loved Club for the past sevenyears, Jess along with staff, Board and members witnessed a rapidtransformation in the Club as membership numbers doubled, bar,bistro and seminar facilities expanded and a reputation generatedstatewide for the venue’s highly sought corporate, wedding andprivate function room facilities.The Club’s unique Chinese and western style menus, magnificententertainment and function facilities, with warm and welcomingatmosphere guaranteed integration of Morwell Bowling Club’scherished, century old sporting tradition and local heritage, in arevitalised and vibrant social hub.“Fundamentally, the heart of our Club is support for the sport ofbowls in our community and everything we do resonates fromthat.” Jess said.“The Club environment continues to be challenging and the needto be across a myriad of increasing compliance and regulatoryissues are now a daily requirement.There is a continual need to adapt to change, diversify, remainproactive and plan to ensure the Clubs future remains strongwhilst meeting the needs of the community.”The tremendous success Morwell Bowling Club has experienced ingenerating revenue, which they reinvest into the sport, has allowedthem to contribute to other local sporting codes and charities, suchas the generous donation they made to Latrobe Regional Hospitalfor the purchase of a much needed electrocardiogram machine,in 2012.“We are a not-for-profit organisation,” said Jess “so we keep ourprices low, making it possible to consistently offer ‘the best valuein town’”.The passion and commitment of founders 100 years ago to buildtheir green and enjoy a social afternoon playing the friendly game,is certainly still evident in today’s modern facilities and upgradedgrounds on Hazelwood Road.“Our Club is special. It really has a warm and inviting atmosphere.”he said.With his wife Vi, Frank has been involved with Morwell BowlingClub for over 20 years and was inducted as a Life Member in 2004.Highly respected at the venue, Frank no longer plays the sport,preferring to support his wife in her matches, while still involved inthe Club life and catching up with friends daily.“The Club is integral to my life. It provides a real sense of community.”he said of the camaraderie.Joining Morwell Bowling Club in 1989, and now wearing thehandyman title, Frank still endorses the benefits of bowls asa healthy sport “You can play it indoors or out and you can’t getinjured. Even with a bad back or in a wheelchair, you can use a wandstick (an extendable arm) to roll the ball”.Witnessing the growth of the Club in recent years as it has prosperedand increased the public profile of bowls, Frank said it is “Unreal.When Vi and I joined, the Club was just surviving and struggling tomake ends meet”.Today, Morwell Bowling Club is a multimillion dollar businessand Frank plans to don a suit to celebrate the Club’s 100th yearanniversary along with his friends, those who bowl and those whodon’t, some, like Frank, who retired from the sport years ago. Postbowlsfriendships endure long after a player has left the lawn androlled their last ball down the green.“The game has become more open now. There have been a lot ofchanges over the years, such as the coloured uniforms and Barefootstylematches. You meet new people all the time.” Frank says of theClub’s sociability. “It makes you feel welcome any time and reallycombats social isolation.”Welcoming new members and inspiring people of all ages to play thesport, Morwell Bowling Club hosts a Try Bowls Day annually, wherethe community can come and have a go on the green, experience alot of fun and enjoy a barbecue.“Usually we have about 30-40 people come along on these days.”The Club even hosts regular lessons for rookies, with two coachesavailable to offer their expertise. Over his year’s of involvement,Frank cannot isolate a single event as a highlight of his time withMorwell Bowling Club. It is the community he holds dear and says“It has all been fun. A lot of people do a lot of work around here, andthey are all integral to our community.”“We are very proud of what we have become, where we have comefrom and where we are going. We hope to honour our bowlinglegacy by incorporating the game further into our community byholding enjoyable twilight matches and corporate team buildingtournaments.”The game and the Club may update and adjust periodically,but the commitment and pride of the Board and members hascertainly not waivered over the years “I’m sure our founders wouldbe astounded with the Club today, its prosperity thriving from thepassionate beginnings they laid, so humbly, all those years ago.”CLUBConnect May/June 2013 13