ON Tuesday, the PE Bowling Club members will pay homage to those who went before them when they celebrate the club’s 130th birthday, to the day.
It was on August 14 1882 that eight bowls enthusiasts gathered at Joseph Swallow’s house in Port Elizabeth and agreed to form the Port Elizabeth Bowling Green Club.
In July that year, Swallow applied to the Port Elizabeth Town Council for a piece of land to be used to establish the sport in the city. And so the country’s first bowling club was established.
The green on which the club was founded in 1882, aptly named Founders green, is still going strong and is one of four greens in use by the club.
The progress in those early days necessitated a second green which was opened in September 1887.
The third green was constructed in 1896 when mining magnate Cecil John Rhodes turned the first sod. A fourth green was built in 1922.
The club will celebrate the occasion with the President’s dinner on Tuesday, a club tradition which was revived last year.
Top Proteas bowler Gerry Baker, one of the most decorated players in South African bowls, will be the guest speaker.
President Tim Stone said they were anticipating a memorable evening.
PEBC remains a major club in Eastern Province and Stone said they currently had 180 men’s and women’s members.
"We went on a big membership drive about two years ago and attracted about 20 young players, which is a big boost for us,” Stone said.
PEBC was recognised this year by the national body and other organisations with such prominent tournaments as the SA Masters, the SA Nationals and the All-Cape men’s tournament being played at the club.
The club also continues to host the SAB Men’s Invitational tournament which was started almost 40 years ago and is one of the most popular events in the Eastern Cape.
You can only wonder if those eight men realised what they were setting in motion so many years ago.
To borrow a phrase from former British prime minister Winston Churchill: "Never ... was so much owed by so many to so few.”