Methil bowling club closes doors after 114 years

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A SCOTTISH bowling club founded by the first captain of the Cutty Sark has finally closed its doors after 114 years.

Methil Bowling Club was founded by Captain George Moodie, the first skipper of the famous Cutty Sark. Captain Moodie was at the helm of the clipper for its first three voyages racing to bring back cargoes of tea from China before retiring to Methil after his last voyage.

But the club staged its last tournament last month, going out on a high after winning the Fife Fours.

Committee members were forced to make the difficult decision to call time as membership numbers fell away with no new members interested in stepping on to the green.

It’s a far cry from the club’s heyday when it had over 700 members on its books and was at the heart of the east Fife community.

Club president George Miller, 72, said, “It was a very difficult decision to make and a very sad day. In recent years we simply couldn’t maintain the numbers to keep it viable and take part in competitions.”

George, who has taken on the role of club president twice since joining the club in 1988, looked back on brighter days and is proud of the clubs history.

He added, “I only took an interest in bowls when I was told that we were staying in Captain Moodie’s house and that he had founded the local bowling club.

“The club was very popular back then. I remember a time when there were six games at home, six games away and a club full of people.

“At the club’s peak, there were over 700 members and a two year waiting list to join, but now members have been dying off with no replacements.”

Even though Scotland now boasts its own world bowls champion in Darren Burnett from Arbroath who beat Mervyn King to take the title earlier this year, the sport does not seem to have caught the imagination of the younger generation.

Club vice-president, Andrew Stenhouse, 75, reflected, “I’ve been with the club for 30 years - some of the members even longer than that - and we have a lot of happy memories.

“We’ve just run out of members.

“We aren’t in debt or anything, but over the last few years, numbers have gradually gone down.

“We have some social members, but not much happens over the winter, and during that time, all of our members played at the East Fife indoor rink.

“Youngsters aren’t too keen to join bowling clubs nowadays, it’s just something they aren’t into.”

“Our remaining 14 members have now joined other local clubs - but many of those are in the same position. A lot of clubs in the local area are struggling.”

The club is currently in talks about selling off the club premises and green, with suggestions that the ground could be used for housing.