BRIEF HISTORY OF WODONGA BOWLING CLUB
On the 28th July 1925, seven leading Wodonga residents met with the aim of forming a bowling club. At a subsequent meeting in September the Wodonga Bowling Club was formally constituted and officer bearers elected. Percy Herbert Lingford, Wodonga Shire Engineer, was elected the first president and Edward William Owens the first secretary/treasurer.
The site now owned by the club was leased from the Shire Council for one shilling per annum. With the assistance of voluntary labour a four-rink green was laid down and a pavilion erected at a cost of £315. A “Queen Carnival”, organised by the ladies from the Wodonga Croquet Club, contributed £163 to this expenditure an allowed the Club to be free of debt when the green was opened.
The membership for the first year was 43 and the membership fee £2/2/0. At the first Annual General Meeting held in September 1926 Percy Lingford, having recently moved to take up a position in Rutherglen, resigned from the position of president. Local grazier Mick Martin was elected to replace Lingford as president and held that position for the next 22 years. Lingford was invited to officially open the newly formed club on the 23rd October 1926 and his wife invited to roll the first bowl. Martin’s wife, Mabel, was invited to roll the first jack.
In 1927 the Club affiliated with the Victorian Bowling Association and in 1929 entered a team in the Ovens and Murray Bowling Association pennant competition.
During the depression and war years the club experienced relatively little growth although in 1939 the existing green, now the Ellwood Green, was extended to its current size. After the war membership steadily increased and in 1954 the second green, now the Mahony Green, was constructed. In 1970 of the third green, the Dunstan Green, was opened.
After catering for men’s events over many years, and being permitted to play only socially, in 1949 the Ladies’ (Associates) Section was also formally constituted with Doll Connell the first president and May Hicks the first secretary.
In the early years the clubhouse had been extended but in 1962 a surplus Army hut was purchased and moved in from Bonegilla. Energetic members converted it into a comfortable clubhouse. In 1968, taking advantage of a Victorian Government loan, facilities were improved to comply with the Licensing Act and a Liquor Licence was granted in 1969 and the first club manager appointed. To generate funds the club established a co-operative and later brick extensions were added to each end of the building. In the seventies membership increased rapidly and the current clubhouse was erected. When it opened in 1978 membership was 270. A few years later when the club incorporated membership exceeded 300.
Over the years Wodonga has had many outstanding players who have won an array of association/group events as well as a number of individual and team state championships. The Club also has had a particularly high representation in association/group and state sides.
Competing first in the Ovens and Murray Ladies Bowling Association pennant competition and later in the North East District Ladies Bowling Association the ladies won many pennants. The first pennant for the men’s number one side did not come until 1985-86, however, since then Wodonga Bowling Club has been a dominant force in the Ovens and Murray Bowling Association and more recently in the Ovens and Murray Bowls Region winning an unsurpassed number of finals.