Hemyock is quite well served by social organisations ranging from the Acorns Club and the Football Club, to the Tennis Club and the WI. Some might have wondered whether there would be sufficient interest in a new club for it to be able to grab a share of people's spare time. But on 4th October 2007 the Short Mat Bowls Club was started in Hemyock Parish Hall by local bowler Sandra Featherstone. Initially we had 11 members new to Short Mat Bowling and 3 experienced players from other clubs who were willing to coach and encourage us.
Two new mats with storage rollers were delivered from Whitehead Bowls and their representative demonstrated how to lay them out correctly and afterwards rewind them onto the rollers. Within the hour we had started play.
In our early days there was a big difference between the performance of the experienced players and the tyros who spent much of the time bowling their 'woods' off the edge of the mat, hitting the fender at the end or hitting the 380mm wooden block in the middle. I should explain that three of the main differences between outdoor lawn bowls and short mat bowls are that the 1.8m wide mat is only half the length of the outdoor rink; there is a block on the centreline half way along the mat around which one has to bowl to get to the jack . . . and one doesn't get wet! The last aspect means that most of us were able to bowl on both of the club days each week throughout the winter as well as during this inclement summer, with the result that there is now much less of a difference between the experienced players and the new bowlers.
In February we played our first friendly match with another club when we were invited to Bishopswood. We lost heavily but had a thoroughly enjoyable time.
In May we went to play Trull (another well established club) and lost 79 points to 31.
Our first home friendly was a return match against Bishopswood in June. Our hall floor dips slightly in the middle which flummoxed the Bishopswood players at first, but after they had learned the run of the mats they beat us 71 points to 36. Then in August we hosted a return match against Trull which we lost on 70 points to 38. However, I like to think of it as a 16 point swing in our favour, compared to the previous match with them. Think positive!
The club has also run two internal competitions this year. The Drawn Pairs competition was won by Keith Stevenson and Irene Dearsley and the trophy, sponsored by Milford and Dormor solicitors of Chard, was presented by the company's Mr William Bennett. The other competition, which was run over May, June and July was the Umbrella Competition (which has nothing to do with rain). This was won on aggregate by David Redwood.
One function where we indoor bowlers did get wet was at Hemyock Fete. The club had a stall with a gazebo cover which took two of us, hanging onto the two windward corners, to prevent it taking off over the chimneypots like Mary Poppins. Not a nice day but at least the profit went someway towards paying off our start up loan. Another non bowling function that the club is running is the Hank Marvin
The club is now registered with the Devon County Short Mat Bowls Association and our membership has increased to 24. To cater for the increase we have purchased, from another club, a third mat to fit between the original two. Now at least one mat, down the centre of the hall, runs true!
For further details about the club, ring the Secretary, Terry Wetherfield, on 01884 840677.
Hemyock - A Village on the Blackdown Hills