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Rolling in . . . Getting ready for Meadowbank Bowling Club's 140th celebrations next Friday are (from left) patron Graham Thorn, president Aileen Blyth and life member Graham Sangster. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Learning where you have come from helps you to roll forward.

Next Friday, Meadowbank Bowling Club past and present members will do just that, as they celebrate the club’s 140th anniversary.

The sixth-oldest bowling club in New Zealand will host 50 people for a celebratory gathering, two games of bowls, and a “social event” to watch videos of past games and club events.

President Aileen Blyth said it was a great opportunity for the club’s past and present members to come together.

“It’s nice to be able to acknowledge the fact, while the majority of the bowlers are still able to attend and celebrate accordingly,” Blyth said.

Meadowbank Bowling Club was special, and had a rich history, patron and North Otago Bowls president Graham Thorn said.

“You ask somebody to come and do something and you get a good response. Everyone helps everyone out to keep the club going,” Thorn said.

“That’s what makes a good club, really.”

On any given day, several people could be found at the Conway St grounds, nurturing the green, keeping the clubrooms tidy, or lending a helping hand with anything else that needed to be done.

“That’s a wonderful thing really – it keeps us together as a unit.”

The club was formed in 1881, as the Oamaru Bowling Club. In 1908, the club’s name was changed to Meadowbank to avoid confusion with other Oamaru clubs.

Back then, ladies’ and men’s bowls had separate chapters in the club, but in 1997 the chapters amalgamated under a Bowls New Zealand directive, Blyth said.

Life member Graham Sangster joined Meadowbank more than 30 years ago, when the club had 200 members.

“I couldn’t get in a team when I first started – you have to be reasonably good.”

Some nights, there could be more people sitting and watching in the shelters than there were people playing, Sangster said.

Among the top players was the great Arthur “Snow” Rudduck. Rudduck won the national fours in 1966, champion of champion singles in 1980, 22 North Otago centre titles, eight Easter titles, and 36 Meadowbank titles.

Brian Papps also won 34 North Otago centre titles, and 19 Meadowbank titles.

Watching players such as Rudduck and Papps in action was how many people learned to play bowls.

Before Blyth joined Meadowbank, she sat on the sidelines at the club watching others to learn how to play.

The Meadowbank Bowling Club’s facilities had also been through plenty of changes.

The club now had two outdoor greens, a large dining room, bar, and billiard room.

An indoor lawn bowls stadium had been added 25 years ago and the club reaped the benefits.

The stadium had four rinks, and was “packed full” most nights during winter. It meant players could play year-round, Blyth said.

Secondary school pupils also utilised the stadium during the winter.

Next Friday’s celebrations would also include the club’s open day on the outside greens. The North Otago bowls season opens on October 2.