A Glasgow sports club even older than Rangers, is also suffering hard times. Hutchesontown Bowling Club, founded in 1866 – seven years before the football club – is in dire straits. Said President William Whyte at the Oatlands clubhouse: ‘There are rumours around that we’re closed. But we’re not!’ With a team of other elected officials, he is working to save the club from extinction. Membership is currently 14 ladies and 23 men who are being confronted with years of apparently, unpaid bills.
Said Club Secretary Annmarie Lynch: ‘ I can speak about the accounts from August last year when I was elected, but not before then.’ So far, she has found debts of more than £30,000 for VAT, rates and rent. ‘Then there are the utilities which we’ve negotiated to pay back at £61 a month for gas instead of the £235 a week we were originally faced with; £100 for electricity a week and water at £50 a week.’ The working group has sought outside help to guide them through the mess. They have called an emergency annual meeting on Sunday 26 February as no annual general meeting was held last December as it should have been.
‘One recent Sunday the bar takings totalled £15.75,’ said President William. ‘We need to get membership up and get revenue into the Club and we need to know the entire Club will help to get Hutchesontown back on its feet.’
His wife, Past Lady President, Annie Whyte is currently Vice President of Glasgow Women’s Bowling Association. ‘This means that on 7 August we host the semi finals of the Association,’ said Annie. ‘This is the first time Hutchesontown Bowling Club has had this honour so we must have the greens ready. This Club used to be famous for its hospitality so we’re doing all we can to make sure these things can happen, properly,’ she said.
Men’s President William, Lady President Agnes, their daughter Annmarie Lynch who is Secretary of the Men’s Club and Margaret McAuley who is treasurer of the Ladies Club and other supporters are working to bring the club back from the brink of extinction. ‘We’re even thinking of writing to the Duke of Argyll who is the Club’s Honorary President,’ said Annmarie.
Oatlands has taken on a new lease of life. A fresh committee running the former ‘blue hut’ has painted it white with help from local kids, residents and volunteers from the staff of LINK housing association. Now called Oatlands Community Resource Centre (OCRC) it is even being considered as a place to hold surgeries by local MSP Nicola Sturgeon who visited recently to meet everyone and hear about local issues including the lack of a shop or a safe play space for children.
The OCRC committee has fixed Friday 14 October as a fund raising race night in nearby Hutchesontown Bowling Club. With a disco and a buffet supper it should raise enough to keep the actitivies in the ‘white house’ going for the winter.
Among the plans are a pantomime- which is currently being worked on by regulars at the out of school activities programme alongside Gary, a professional actor from Theatre Ecole.
Kids’ hip hop classes in town are proving popular and kickboxing classes are about to start in the OCRC. The pensioners’ bingo sessions on a Wednesday are well attended. And a hallowe’en party is on the cards. A monthly on-line newsletter – the Gab – run by very youthful wannabee journalists can be read at the website: ocrc.org.uk They don’t pull their punches and have asked why the community doesn’t have a play park for children or a shop.
Said Lisa Gillen, the OCRC volunteer organiser: ‘We’ve had nothing but positive feedback to the painting of the place. And we were very grateful to the LINK staff for their support as well as the willing workers from the local community. They all did a good job in transforming the centre.’