Radical changes to happen at Elmwood Park

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Club Manager Erin Hyde and Club Chair Ron Phair show off their new ‘urban beach’ on what was once Elmwood’s number one green

Life changed for the Elmwood Bowling Club after the earthquake in Christchurch in 2011.

The September 2010 earthquake had made a bit of a mess of the number one green and damaged the clubhouse, but the February quake was the clincher. Liquefaction erupted all over the green, even though the number two green just 50 yards away was unaffected. The clubhouse, although still ‘safe’, was written off and the club was paid out for a new one.

The club was already part of a multi-sports hub at Elmwood Park that also included Old Collegians Cricket Club and Elmwood Croquet Club. And when the earthquake made other sporting codes ‘homeless’, St Nicholas Netball, High School Old Boys Hockey and High School Old Boys Football were also invited to join the hub.

Once the sand was installed on the ‘munted’ number one green another group of clubs wanted to make the most of the sheltered Urban Beach and could see the advantages of sharing with other clubs so Canterbury Handball and Shirley Volleyball joined. Lincoln University Rugby also took the opportunity to join the sports hub to create a ‘town’ base.

The sports hub finally became what it is today when dwindling numbers at the neighbouring Merivale-St Albans Bowling Club lead to an amalgamation with Elmwood to create what became known as the new Elmwood Park Bowling Club.

“It’s probably a unique amalgamation,” says Chair Ron Phair, “where both bowling sites still remain. What were just ‘Elmwood’ players can now play around the corner at St Albans-Merivale. And the ‘St Albans-Merivale’ players can come here.”

Big plans are afoot to build a new clubhouse which will include a covered green. But there’s still a lot of consulting and consenting before the new facility can get off the ground.

The development is planned as a collaborative project … to provide facilities not only for the sports hub at Elmwood, but for affiliated clubs and the surrounding community. A multiuse sports hall on Ministry of Education land will give Heaton Intermediate use of it during the day and the affiliated sports clubs use at other times.

There’s no doubt the revamped club will be spectacular. And Elmwood Club Manager Erin Hyde is looking forward to the new development after operating in a compromised state for so long. “We have 120 full playing members here,” says Erin, “and about another 70 social members as well as over 500 casual members. But that’s just the bowling club. Overall the Elmwood sports hub has 2,200 members from all nine affiliated sports clubs.”

“We have a group of very competitive players here,” says Ron, “The likes of Gary Lawson, Mandy Boyd and Bev Morel, but we also have players who just want to have a social roll-up.”

Social highlight of the year is the end-of-season ‘State of Origin’ Tournament, where players turn out in ‘fancy dress’ and are teamed up with players from the same birthplace. “We have a member born in Hong Kong so that’s always challenging,” Ron laughs.

The highlight of the year for the club has been the entry of the ‘Elmwood Saints’ into the televised Bowls3Five league to be played in Auckland later this year.

“Gary Lawson has named his team for the competition, and it certainly looks threatening or promising depending on the end of the green you are on!” says Erin*.

If Gary Lawson has anything to do with it, we can expect the Elmwood Saints to be the ones to watch at New Lynn.

*Gary Lawson, Bev Morel, Stephen Ditfort, Jan Shirley, Mandy Boyd, Kelvin Scott, Nathan Glasson, Lance Pascoe

Read More on the Elmwood Park Saints CLICK HERE.