Below is a transcript of a letter from Mr Terry Williams describing the start of the Swansea Short Mat bowls Association, and its progress over its first ten years.
Many thanks to Mike Russell (Cefn Hengoed) for providing the information.
A meeting was called on the 27th March 1986, by the City of Swansea, Sport & Recreation Dept. to establish a Short Mat Bowls League amongst existing Community Centres. Four Community Centre Bowls Clubs were in attendance at the meeting, Brynrnill, Morriston, Pennard and Blaen-y-Maes. It was decided that the League would commence in September 1986, with as many Clubs as possible taking part. Discussions were also being held with the Scapa Leisure Surfaces Company, with a view to them providing sponsorship for a tournament towards the end of the Season. The first year was very much a learning process, as no one knew what the rules of the game were, such things as foot-faults and foul woods were foreign to all players. Fixtures and all administrative matters were dealt with by the City Council.
The second year of the League became one of better organisation, and with a further four Teams. Clase, West Cross, Cefn Hengoed and Dillwyn Llewellyn, joining the League. Grants now became available from the Welsh Sports Council for the purchase of equipment, and these were arranged by the City Council. The League appointed its first Secretary, Mr D Turner of Pennard, who was able to secure a set of Rules from Scapa Leisure Services which we played to until 1990. The sport was given a boost by the organisation call 'Operation Sport' which went around various Community Centres advertising the potential of the game.
The Third and Fourth year of the League things started to take the shape of things to come -Swansea City Council asked the League to form its own Management Committee, with one voting Member from each Club, and for the Council to have its own appointed delegate to attend the Meetings. We had now established a sound relationship with the City Council, and to this end they had agreed that we have the free use of Rooms within the Guildhall for our Meetings. By now we had raised Membership of the League to fourteen Teams, and had also managed to stage our first Triples Tournament at the Patti Pavilion. Sponsorship for this event came from Mr. T. G. Jones, Solicitor who donated a Silver Cup which we still play for.
It was my privilege to be Chairman of the League from 1987 until 1990 when I stepped down to take the post of Secretary/Treasurer. During this period we applied to the W.S.M.B.A. to become affiliated to the Organisation, as our Members felt that we could achieve a higher standard of bowling through competition. In 1991 we were accepted as Members of the W.S.M.B.A. and to date we have played an active part in developing the sport. Upwards of thirty-five Members of the League have qualified as Umpires of the Association, and have formed the Swansea Umpires Association. During 1991 we had the first player selected from the League to represent Wales - Andrew Macreadie from the Cefn Hengoed Short Mat Bowls Club played for Wales at the World Short Mat Bowls Championships in Scotland in March 1992.
At the start of the 1993/94 Season, twenty Clubs were now Members of the League, and the Management Committee decided that the league should be split in two divisions, this being the only effective way of allowing for expansion. Already there is talk of a possible need for a third division, which shows the continued growth of the game being enjoyed by more and more people.
On Wednesday, 21st April 1993, I stepped down as the Secretary / treasurer of the League, having felt that I could not personally contribute any further. This has allowed the League to develop to its present state with fresh people bringing fresh ideas to the various Offices. Our Presentation Evening has grown in attendance figures from the original ninety who attended the first occasion to the present level of over three hundred. On a local level the number of competitive tournaments being run by Dillwyn Llewellyn, Morriston and Cefn Hengoed Leisure Centres have now increased to five.
On a National level the League's performance is second to none. In the past four years of running the County Championships, Swansea has won the competition on two occasions and finished as runners-up once. The National League Champions of Champions has been contested on four occasions, with Morriston Short Mat Bowls Club finishing as runners-up on one occasion, and the Portmead/Blaen-y-Maes Short Mat Bowls Club winning the title in 1995/96.
In 1994, five players from the League were selected to represent Wales in the British Isles Championships at Norfolk, three of these came from the Morriston Short Mat Bowls Club, Lyndon Havard, John Willmer and Leydon Waspe, one player, Eric Thomas from the Birchgrove Short Mat Bowls Club, and John Slattery from the Cefn Hengoed Short Mat Bowls Club. The 1996 Season has a tremendous start for the League with nine Members, Lyndon Havard, John Willmer, Leyden Waspe, Mark Sayce, Paul Hewitt, lorrie Roderick, Robert Evans, Terry Williams and Robert Davies, being selected to play for Wales in the British Isles Championships in November 1996.
Remembering what happened over the past ten years has brought back some very happy memories, particularly of some of the original members who took part in developing the League, the late Malcolm Evans, Morriston, the late Ted Malt, Brynmill, Keith Brown, Clase, Ray Ricks, Dillwyn Llewellyn all of whom served as Officers of the League in its infancy.
The Officers and members of the present League Management Committee have a very bright future to look forward to, and if they continue to serve the needs of the League's Membership as it has over the past ten years, then the next ten years should be as equally rewarding and enjoyable as the last ten years.