A Brief History of Whitley & Monkseaton Bowling Club
The Club was originally two separate clubs, the Men’s Club being formed in 1924 and the Women’s Club being formed in November 1929. Both played at Souter Park. The amalgamation of both clubs took place in 2006.
The Men’s Club
Whitley & Monkseaton Bowling Club was formed by members of Monkseaton Methodist Church in 1924, 24 in number.
The President was Mr. Souter who held the post for 20 years. He was the mayor of the old Whitley Bay Borough Council and obviously when the playing fields were established was the reason they bore his name (Souter Park).
In contrast to other clubs our President occupies the post for lifetime.
Naturally the membership increased over a period but the real boost came in 1963 when members of the St. Cuthbert’s Presbyterian Church, who played friendly games with our club and the golf clubs, decided to become members so much so that when asked by other clubs’ members to which club you played for, they responded – ‘Oh, the Scotch Club’. Membership was limited to 160 and there was a waiting list.
The club’s best years were in the 1960’s and 70’s when we ruled the roost with our Clegg team being practically unbeatable and with around 15 members playing for 3 County teams each week.
The club’s most famous member was Syd Drysdale, Manager of the first successful England team in the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
David Bryant MBE winning the singles and Syd skippering the winning fours.
Syd also played the most games on the English National team and of course was internationally known, read more about Syd in a separate article on this page.
Sydney Drysdale 1904-1969
Sydney Drysdale was born in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne. His family had been Blacksmiths for generations at Bowsden in the north of Northumberland, but Drysdale's father, John, moved to Heaton in the eighteen nineties to start his own Blacksmith's business.
Drysdale was educated at Newcastle Royal Grammar School 1915–1920 and, after working on the quayside in Newcastle upon Tyne for a shipping firm, started his own haulage contracting firm in 1933 when he moved to live in Whitley Bay.
After a promising football career, brought to a halt by injury, Drysdale had started to play lawn bowls at the Whitley & Monkseaton Bowling Club and won many local competitions leading him to be selected to play for Northumberland. In 1953 he was successful in winning through to the last 64 of the English national singles competition who then played at Paddington in London to determine the overall winner. Sid reached the semi-final before losing to international Algy Allen after a close and exciting match watched by a very large crowd.
As a result, in 1954 he was selected to play for England as a skip. After skipping his rink of four to ten international matches he remained an English international until 1965. The highlight of his time as an English international player was winning England's first gold medal, as skip of their lawn bowls four/rinks with David Bryant, Tom Fleming and Les Watson, at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1962, held in Perth, Western Australia. For this achievement Drysdale was awarded the Whitley Bay Town Cup and given the Freedom of the Borough.
After his international appearances came to an end in 1965 Drysdale continued to play bowls for his county and club in Whitley Bay until he died suddenly on 26 February 1969. His death was reported nationally and internationally by the press and hundreds attended his funeral in Whitley Bay in support of his widow Emily, two sons (Alderman Peter Drysdale and Mr. Ian Drysdale) and other family members.
Drysdale remains the only lawn bowler to have ever been featured on football's Match of the Day programme. This occurred on Saturday 24 November 1962 when, during the programme, Kenneth Wolstenholme congratulated him on winning England's first Gold Medal and showed a film clip of him following one of his bowls down the rink to the applause of the crowd at the bowling green in Perth, Western Australia. He went on to mention that Sid had been nicknamed "the crab" by the spectators and TV audience in Australia because of the unusual way he ran down the green behind his bowls. This was mentioned again while Sid was present at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year event in December 1962.
The photo showing medals – 1962 Commonwealth Games Dalkeith, Australia
The English gold medal winning fours bowls team, Toast the skip - 1962 Commonwealth Games,
David Bryant (left), Les Watson, Sid Drysdale and G.T. (Tom) Fleming Les Watson [left], Tom Fleming and David Bryant
toast Sid Drysdale (right) after he had led them to victory
in the Games bowls fours at Dalkeith
As time went by as a well-established bowling club with some 80 regular members, Whitley and Monkseaton Bowling Club were concerned that their men's pavilion had become run down. Committee members contacted VODA for advice around funding the refurbishment of the interior of the building early in 2017 and were successful in an award for £4,909 from the Big Lottery's Awards for All programme with the result.
The Women's Club
The ground was given to the council by a Mr. Souter who made sure it would only be used for the game of bowls and for long time only men used the greens.
However in 1930 the ladies decided they were sick of just sitting watching the men play’ because in those days wives mainly did not go out to work.
The actual site was built on the old Monkseaton station which was removed to where the station is now when it was decided to put a railway line through to Blyth. Part of the platform was still there until the car park was built.
The Ladies club house was originally a shelter for people to watch the park as there was a putting green on the left side of the footpath and each side of the shelter was a room where the park keeper kept equipment for hiring and an office where you booked for playing tennis, putting and bowls. The club used to leave a rink on each green for public use.
The ladies then had a little club house on the small green at the side of the present club house.
The present clubhouse which rented from the council was erected and refurbished and the club started to use it in 1982.
Whitley & Monkseaton Ladies had a very strong team and quite a lot of the Ladies played for the county
County matches and competitions were played on the green in the early years because there were four greens they could use, these included the women’s green, the men’s green in Souter Park plus 2 greens borrowed from across the road (Forth & Souter ).
Ethel Rutherford & Evelyn Scorer won the England Pairs in 1977 and are still (up to 2020) the only pair from Northumberland to win that competition. They beat Mrs E Clempson & P Nash form Buckingham.
Evelyn Scorer played for England from 1978 to 1981
Ethel Rutherford (left) & Evelyn Scorer
1977 England Pairs Champions
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