Golden Graham embarks on third term as county chief

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Ken Graham has embarked on an unprecedented third term as Bowls Hampshire president.

As the summer season got under way on Monday – with the first round of Portsmouth & District League fixtures – the Purbrook Heath man was getting stuck into his role on the county circuit.

Graham first became president in 2008 – during his time at Waterlooville Bowling Club.

But so impressed were county members, he was persuaded to put his name forward for junior vice president – therefore beginning the whole process again.

He was duly voted in and so became president for the second time last year.

That was supposed to bring an end to his stewardship.

But when president-elect John Jenner had to step aside due to ill health, Graham nobly stepped in.

And as if the Hampshire role was not enough, he has also taken over the reins as president of the Portsmouth & District Bowling Association (PDBA).

He is not the only change at the PDBA, either.

Following Portsmouth City Council’s decision to make clubs responsible for the maintenance of the greens and pavilions, club players have been hit by a major increase in subscription fees.

In turn, membership has taken a hit – prompting Lakeside to join forces with Co-op to form the new Phoenix Bowling Club, which is based at College Park.

This meant the cost of maintaining just one of the greens at Canoe Lake would have been too prohibitive for Star & Crescent.

They survive – but will now be playing home matches at Southsea Waverley.

Canoe Lake, however, will not play host to any clubs this year.

It is a similar story at Drayton Park – but for a different reason.

The pavilion there has three different users, for bowls, cricket and football.

But with the cricketers and footballers simply renting the facilities on a match-by-match basis, responsibility for the upkeep of the venue would have fallen on the Drayton Park bowlers.

And reluctantly, they have decided to disband.

Meanwhile, Cosham and Northern Parade each had the headache of maintaining two greens.

Understandably, they have cut their losses and will both use a single surface.

That means Cosham’s men’s and ladies’ teams, along with the Post Office, will now be playing on the one green in Cosham Park.

Meanwhile, at Northern Parade, members of City of Portsmouth opted to move across and join Gas, Vospers and the Northern Parade Ladies’ Club on the single green.

But following a meeting last month, they felt that the increased costs and declining membership had left them with no option but to close the club altogether.

Their demise was a great shock to the other clubs in Portsmouth.

Established in 1902, City were the second oldest in the competition.

They were one of the eight founder members of the Hampshire Bowling Association (the forerunner of the PDBA) in 1903.

And then, after World War One, they were one of 10 clubs that formed the PDBA in 1925.

Elsewhere in the region, Bedhampton have replaced their green with an all-weather surface – which has wiped out the annual green-keeping costs which totalled around £8,000.

Club bowlers, as well as members of the public, can now use the green in the winter season, too.

And while outdoor bowlers much prefer to play on grass, Bedhampton’s decision to follow the example of Waterlooville may be a pointer to the future of the summer sport in the region.