The Sandflies bowling team enjoy their last games of bowls with a heavy heart.
The Sandflies bowling team enjoy their last games of bowls with a heavy heart. Amber Gibson

Sad day as team mourns Ballina bowling club collapse

AFTER decades of lawn bowls and comradery, Sunday marked the last day social bowls team, The Sandflies played at Ballina RSL Bowling Club before its closure tomorrow.

Last month the Ballina RSL Club said they made the decision due to declining patronage and operational losses over the last six years.

Long-term Sandflies member, Patrick Kearney, who started bowling in the 80's, said the club was his home.

"We're not real happy about it. They tried to close it before and I was one of the ones that put my hand up to try and save it. It wasn't making money and they don't want to use it as a social hub for the older people," Mr Kearney said.

 

Mr Kearney said money that could have been used to keep the Bowling Club open was spent on the renovations at the Ballina RSL on Grant St.

"They possibly can't afford to back this place up anymore but they always wanted to close it. An example of how they let it run down was the ice machine, it hadn't been running for two years, so they bring ice down from the RSL Club everyday. It's unbelievable.

"This place would of been an icon in Ballina. The old blokes bought properties close so they can go straight to the bowling club.

With 150 members, the bowling green was crowded with a club enjoying one last bowl together.

Mr Kearney said they would now look to Cherry St Bowlo for their next meeting spot.

"You look after the club that looks after you."

Greenkeeper Duncan Elphick said it felt like the end of a historic tradition that had carried on for generations.

"I was talking to one of the members last night and his mum was was the first lady to deliver a bowl on the regional bowling club on River St. and his dad served in Bornio, was a life member of teh RSL club, bowled here in the 70's and 80's," Mr Elphick said.

"That type of tradition, you can't buy that. That's why people are crying."

Chris Dart has been a member of the Sandflies for 20 years.

"It's a very sad day for all of us," he said.

"We bought a home near here so that I could walk to the bowling club when I retired, and now it's gone."