Graeme Bown, HBC Committee Member
In 2014, Graeme became the Secretary of Hampden Bowling Club. Between 2016 and 2018, 93 blogs were written about how to transform a bowling club from one which lived in the old world and brought into the modern world.
Hampden Bowling Club – Our Biggest Lesson – Posted 06/02/2018
I have been Secretary for 3 years. It is time to do something new in the committee. And what better way to do it than a blog to finish and mark me handing back my Secretary’s badge.
Over the last 2 years I have written 93 blogs (thanks to John Douglas for a few guest ones). Kept it going for 87 weeks in a row – no mean fete. Every Sunday evening it would go out. Over 60,000 words telling the story about a wee bowling club that has a big history and a mission to match. It tells you the highs, the lows and some useful hints and tips when you are thinking about rejuvenating a club. I think its actually the most difficult thing in the world to do.
There are so many other options for people in the world today. How high up is the game of bowls on their bucket list? Getting them interested in a bowling club (or any sports club) is so difficult. And even with everything we have done we still are worried about our future. There are members of our committee that think the greatest challenge is to get members. I believe that the greatest challenge for a club is getting committee members. You need so many different skillsets to compete in the modern world for attention. It generally falls on the few to keep a club going and I’m forever indebted to the hard work of my fellow Committee members. If it wasn’t for them there would be no Hampden Bowling Club. And here is one for the footy fans. You owe them a debt of gratitude beyond your imagination. They have kept your first home of the modern game in good shape over the last 113 years. You didn’t even know it was there. So come and have a look. If 3rd Hampden disappears, maybe the 1st Hampden will become even more important to you. You cannot replace history – just remember that….
So my biggest lesson. You cannot do it all at once. Patience is a virtue and with a bowling club it stretches to its absolute limits and sometimes beyond…. But you get to look back once and a while and see why its worth it. I had been deliberating whether or not to kick start the blog in 2018 however I think like all good things its a good time to change and try out something new. Therefore this is the last Hampden Blog that I will be doing. It has served its purpose.
The whole point of the blog was to have a 21st century minute book about what a bowling club is facing in the new world. Here is the shorthand version of what we have achieved. It built upon the legendary HBC hospitality – the key was getting you in the door to experience it.
We have proven we are on the 1st Hampden Park – even the great historians hadn’t done that. We have had a BBC Scotland Radio Programme made about the club, featured in the Scotsman, Daily Mail, Courier and Evening Times. We have grown our membership, our Ladies won the Glasgow Triples, we have been a development club with Bowls Scotland (thanks so much to Laura Kerr for keeping me sane) and come up with a new club top that is the envy of many. Our green has vastly improved – in fact all the visitors last year were positive about it and remarked on how much better it had become. And finally but most importantly our mission to #Restore1stHampden. That will happen. I can guarantee it and it will be completely different from what you may imagine…
Our Facebook page is now over 300 likes and we are followed by over 300 on Twitter. We held the opening night of the Queens Park FC Supporters 150 year celebrations and now recognised as their first home on the BBC website. I completed 10 x 10ks to raise money for the club and get more awareness of what we are up too. We have made countless new friends; made loads of videos, showcased the club to the masses and now talked about by other bowling clubs. .. They all want to know why they are talking about us…. A club that has less than 50 full members….
According to our twitter page and written at the start of 2016, I wrote the following:
The Hampden Bowling Club is the best wee club in the Southside of Glasgow. Our mission is to tell the world our story… and a have a lot of fun along the way!
In 2015 people thought we were shut – a wee pavilion tucked away in the corner of Crosshill. Well they are not saying that now. And yes we are having plenty of fun along the way!
So the story is now written and forever held on the web to ensure that our history is never lost again. We don’t need a blog anymore to track what we are up to. You just need to google us and you will find our footprint all over the web. Just have a look – if you typed in Hampden Bowling Club into the web in 2015 – Mount Florida Bowling Club would come up. That doesn’t happen anymore!
So here is the original blog. We have kicked the backside out of showing what you can do if you put your mind to something. The To-Do list is endless but the next chapter of the story will just be as exciting.
So without further ado – here is the original blog from 2 years ago.
HBC Secretary Signing Off
Happy New Year 2016 – Posted 08/01/2016
It’s a New Year. Its over a 111 years since this little club started. What a year we hope to have!
Can you imagine if we asked the original Committee of 1905 whether their little Bowling Club would still be going over a century later? Would they comprehend the telephone, television, computer and never mind the internet? Their creation has lived through all of these. That is one amazing achievement!
Hampden Bowling Club, for those that don’t know, has a special place in history. Here we are sitting in the original changing room of the first ever Scottish Football Team. Our Bowling Green is the first Hampden Park of the Scottish National Football Team. Does that matter? Well it does to us. It’s a piece of history that can never be replaced.
There are 15 of us on a Friday night for what some might say is the best wee quiz in the Southside. It happens every month on the first Friday of the month. It’s our chance to open our doors and invite anyone that fancies it. Do you have to be a member? No you don’t. Do you have to sign up to be a member? No you don’t. But here’s the thing. If by the end of the quiz you don’t think that this is a brilliant wee club then we will be surprised. Our core is a game of bowls and the fantastic people that are part of this. But the principle that this club was founded on was providing the opportunity for the local community to get together. It’s here for you.
So what is this blog about? Well last year I was shown the original minute books from the first Committee meetings of the Hampden Bowling Club in 1905. An original hand written account detailing the thoughts of people living in a different world. What an inspiration!
So bringing this in to the 21st Century I thought I would create a blog to record the events of a Bowling Club in 2016. I’m the Secretary of a Bowling Club that I believe has a true sense of community. It brings together all ages into a game that is universal. Whether you are 5 or 85, you can play this game. How many modern games give that sort of accessibility? How many games can bring together all the generations together in one place? Over the next year I hope to give you an insight into this little club and what it takes to keep a bowling club going. Or in my view an institution.
At the grand old age of 111 years of age we want to make sure that the Hampden Bowling Club has a future that will live on for another century. That is our mission. We are different. But here’s the thing. We need the community to keep it going and this is one of the ways to get all of you interested.
So I hope you enjoy this little blog. I promise to keep it up to date and keep the story going. If last year is anything to go by, this year will be just as memorable.