Graceville Bowls Club Centenary Celebration
Thank you, Mr Dickson, for your kind introduction this afternoon.
I too acknowledge our elected representatives; and leaders from bowls organisations at local, State and national levels.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the warm welcome you have extended to me on this highly significant occasion for the Graceville Bowls Club.
One hundred years is a very long time, but when you consider the history of bowls, one may conclude that in Australia we have only just begun our journey.
The earliest written mention of the sport dates back to the 12th century, and can be found in the works of English administrator William Fitzstephen.
In his biography of Saint Thomas Becket of Canterbury, Fitzstephen vividly described how young men in London ‘exercised in leaping, shooting, wrestling, casting of stones and throwing of javelins fitted with loops’.
The sport was eventually banned by King Edward the Third, because he feared it might jeopardise the practice of archery, then regarded as an important battle skill.
Perhaps not coincidentally, in the very same year the first game of bowls was recorded in Australia – on the island of Tasmania to be precise – at the back of the former Beach Tavern in Sandy Bay near Hobart. From there, the enthusiasm spread north.
Bowls eventually became so popular that by the 1930s some Queensland clubs were forced to impose temporary membership caps
The sport’s fortunes may have waxed and waned over the decades, but the central role that bowls plays in communities throughout Australia, and indeed throughout our State, is as proudly asserted today as it was in 1845.
At the time of the last National Bowls Census in 2016, Queensland accounted for 315 clubs and nearly 135,000 participants, including more than 33,000 registered members.
These are truly impressive numbers.
Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of all Queenslanders, I congratulate you most sincerely on your centenary of sporting excellence, from current Club President, Mr Dickson, to the leaders and board members who came before us.
Thank you also to the many volunteers and supporters who have devoted, and continue to devote, their heart and soul to the development of this marvellous sport, and to the longevity of this historic club.
For 100 years, the club has been a great contributor to human relations: it has fostered the forging of many friendships, it has encouraged worthwhile competitive recreation, and has achieved high standards of excellence.
It has, frankly, been a powerful force for community cohesion in this deeply family orientated part of our great city.
May the Graceville Bowls Club live on for at least another one hundred years.