Blue Anchor Bowls club is about to enter it's 32nd season.
Formed in 1981 from regulars at the Blue Anchor Inn, Penclawdd , in those days a thriving and very popular establishment. Like most things which started in a pub, a challenge was thrown out between some of the drinkers, probably late at night, that one could beat the others at the game of Bowls. A match was arranged at the village Bowling Green at the lower end of the village of Penclawdd. What started as a semi - serious event surprisingly caught on, and it was decided to form a proper bowls club. Penclawdd already had a long established club, Penclawdd Bowls Club, formed in 1921, with a proud history, including winning the Carruthers Shield in 1951. They have also won two National championships, the Fours in 1967, and the Pairs in 1968. Having had the green to themselves for 60 years, they didn't look too kindly on the upstarts from the other end of the vllage, particularly when the Blue Anchor club attracted a few disillusioned Penclawdd members.
Blue Anchor's application to join the Swansea Bowling league was turned down, (some say due to the influence and objections of Penclawdd), but fortunately the Llanelli League accepted the new Club.
Blue Anchor started in the bottom reaches of the League, in those days, the Third Division of three, and remained there for years. In the early days, the club was a semi social outfit, without any ambitions in the game, and found it hard to hold on to the more competitive and able players that it did produce. Around 2000, the club did spend one year in the second division of the Llanelli League, (which was then four divisions, after the formation of the Premier division some years earlier), but found the competition too much, and slumped back into the basement division after hardly winning a match.
Throughout the 90's the club had an influential Chairman in Danny Lewis, a successful businessman, and mainly due to his efforts and guidance, became financially very sound, a legacy that remains to this day. Danny was also instrumental in making improvements to the area around the green and upgrading the pavilion. It's worth remembering, as our bowls pavilion reaches the end of its life, that it has served us well, and mainly due to the efforts of the club members of the time, with some support from the Community Council. Some ten years after electricity was introduced into the building, it was demolished to make way for a"state of the art" multi sports facility,a welcome amenity for the village of Penclawdd.
With the first class facilities in the new building we can now host visiting clubs with pride in our surroundings. .
On the green, the club's outlook, and fortunes, took a turn for the better in 2003, when a man by the name of Emlyn Lewis joined the club.
Emlyn was a man of many parts, and one who gave the lie to the phrase "Jack of all trades...." . He was a person who was interested in many things, his trade as a welder, his many hobbies, including archery, photography, stick-making, and his extensive knowledge of wildlife. To all these things, he gave 100% application, until his knowledge of each subject was encyclopaedic. When he decided to turn his attention to the game of Bowls, he gave it his usual wholehearted and enthusiastic commitment. His natural aptitude for the game was soon evident, but as always, he wanted to improve both himself, and those around him. With this in mind, he qualified as a coach, and was instrumental in introducing an organised Club practice night. He was unstinting with his time and advice, and gradually our players started to improve.
More importantly, his straight forward and fair minded approach to the day to day running of the club's affairs also bore fruit. After what could best be called a clash of personalities, some members decided to go their different ways, leaving the Blue Anchor club a much more democratic organisation. Sadly, Emlyn's death from cancer in 2006 left a void that is unlikely to be filled, but his legacy lives on. The practice night is still well attended, and the club has a trophy for the most improved player each year, with a perpetual Cup inscribed as "The Emlyn Lewis Cup".
Emlyn with his sticks
In the five years since this was introduced, winners have been Lyn Williams, Vernon Hopkins (obviously still improving and he's at least 80) , Darren Quirk, Peter Thorpe and Dave Pollock. Hopefully Dave won't suffer the fate of other "most improved Players", and will have a good season in 2012.
In 2006 Dieter Mathias became Captain, and proved such a success that he remained in the post up to the 2012 season. During this time the club progressed from being "also-rans" in Div 3, to achieving promotion to Div 1 in 2011. Dieter's captaincy contributed in no little manner to the improved team spirit within the Club, and is reflected in the improved playing performance. Dieter was recognised by the County in 2010,and 2011, and made a number of appearances in the Senior Championship side, only the second player from Blue Anchor to achieve this. Dieter has decided to relinquish the captaincy this year, and his place will be taken by Eric Davies, with Keith Tregembo as his vice Captain. Hopefully Eric can carry on where Dieter left off.
The club's first success in competitions came in 2007, when a rink from Blue Anchor won the Llanelli Festival Week Fours. The original four were Les Thomas, Vernon Hopkins (still with some improvement in him at that stage), Alan Howells and Keith Tregembo. When Keith's work commitments prevented him continuing after the second round, Dieter Mathias took over the skipping duties, and proved a more than adequate deputy, guiding his team to impressive victories over Dafen Welfare and Graig Merthyr. In the final at Calsonic, they met a Brynhyfryd four skipped by Bryan Kingdon. This wasn't one for Bryan to tell his friends (and anyone else who'd listen) about, however, as the Blue Anchor boys were always in control, and held their nerve to take the title.
2011 was our most successful season yet, with two County titles coming our way, and promotion to the First division , both for the first time in our history. The Carmarthen County Senior Singles title went to Eric Davies, and the Senior Fours was won convincingly by John Chilvers, David Ball, Dieter Mathias, and Brian Rees.
We were unfortunately relegated from Div 1 in 2012 , although with only one and two shots defeats in three of our matches, things could have been different. Be assured that we will be doing our utmost to overcome our opposition in Div 2 this year, and gain promotion once again. Our main aim still, though, is to be a club which is respected for it's friendliness and sportsmanship, as well as our playing ability.
Socially we try to keep together, with our end of season dinner always well attended and enjoyed, and our annual tour looked forward to with great anticipation. Some of our number went away to try their hand at Crown Green bowls in 2011, and had a great day. Another trip may well be on the cards in the future.