Back from the brink – how Thorn­ton Bowls Club turned their for­tunes around

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN

THORN­TON Bowl­ing Club faced fi­nan­cial ruin and clo­sure two years ago, but to­day it’s a thriv­ing en­tity.

There is a fully stocked bar, money in the bank and mem­ber­ship, while still not ad­e­quate, is on the rise. So how did this club with two out­stand­ing greens re­bound from the brink of col­lapse?

It took the ded­i­ca­tion of a new club pres­i­dent, a karate ex­pert and the in­flux of a few qual­ity mem­bers, who banded to­gether and came up with an action plan.

Wil­helm Malan and Tony Bra­cale need spe­cial men­tion for their un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment and vi­sion to turn things around at a time when the club had just a few loyal re­main­ing mem­bers left.

Malan, the vice pres­i­dent of WP Bowls, joined forces with res­i­dent mem­ber Bra­cale and to­gether they sup­plied the ini­tial cash needed to start the re­vival.

Monies were used to stock up the bar, im­prove club se­cu­rity and pur­chase mow­ers for greens that had been ne­glected.

Es­tab­lished in 1961, Thorn­ton’s cur­rent mem­ber­ship stands at 30 men and four women. League re­sults have been out­stand­ing with the men’s first team on the brink of winning pro­mo­tion to the Premier League, the sec­ond side top­ping the Sec­ond Four and the women back cam­paign­ing in Muter – and lead­ing their sec­tion.

Winning pro­mo­tion to the Premier League would be a huge boost for the club, Malan says.

“If we win pro­mo­tion, we can at­tract a num­ber of qual­ity play­ers. That’s not to say we haven’t any at the mo­ment, we do. We’ve got some of the most promis­ing youngsters in our ranks and a num­ber of sea­soned pro­vin­cial cam­paign­ers.”

Teamwork is a non-ne­go­tiable in a suc­cess­ful club and it’s this kind of en­vi­ron­ment that has seen Thorn­ton shine. It tran­scends through the kind of mem­ber the club is try­ing to at­tract – play­ers who don’t bring bag­gage along with them, just good old-fash­ioned mem­bers want­ing a fam­ily-ori­en­tated set­ting, a place to en­joy the game they love.

And if plans come to­gether, an in­door bowl­ing cen­tre in the next five years is one the cards. The club has the land be­hind the club­house for this to hap­pen, it’s just a mat­ter of sourc­ing the role play­ers.

Malan is bullish at the prospect of this be­com­ing a re­al­ity.

“It would be the first of its kind,” he said. “Bowlers have been cry­ing for this for years, it’s just a case of draw­ing up a busi­ness plan and pre­sent­ing it to the rel­e­vant par­ties.”

So, if you’re a mem­ber of a (big) club where you’re no more than a num­ber, give Thorn­ton a call.

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