The club was formed in 1978 by a gentleman called Dennis McCready, the then landlord of The Downsman pub in Southgate and a few of his regulars who one day talked about “fancying a game of bowls”. This duly took place at Southgate Playing Fields and after a while and a lot of enjoyment decided to create a club which then was formally affiliated to the relevant governing bodies. At this point the membership was less than 20 but friendly matches with local clubs were arranged and eventually as the membership grew it enabled us to join external leagues.
Indeed a fixture book from 1988 is displayed in the club, alongside the different generations of club badges and stickers.
Speaking about our badge, it reflects our club well (Long man of Wilmington aka The Downsman; The Blind eye representing our incorporation with the Blind Bowlers; the Bowls and Jack and the Martlet, (the county bird of Sussex)
From the club’s inception in 1978, we shared a green at Southgate Playing Fields with two other clubs and by mid 2004 it was getting more and more difficult to get time on the green.
At this time we were given the opportunity to take over the green previously used by the Crawley Labour Club in West Green, and at the same time be incorporated with the Crawley Blind and Disabled Bowlers who shared the green with the labour club. They play a huge part in our club and some play alongside able bodied members in competitions and matches as well as having their own fixtures.
After a huge amount of work, as we had no clubhouse and the green was in a pretty sorry state, we moved in early 2006, and were able to start that season on our new green.
Since then, membership has grown steadily standing at 110 with 70+ players (2019 figures) as has our reputation for being a very friendly club, with good facilities and a very good green. To that end we have hosted full Sussex County games and hope to do so again.
In recent years, the club has started playing shortmat bowls in the winter which is based on the same principles as outdoor bowls but played in the clubhouse and local village halls. We offer rollups, competitions and matches against other clubs as well as at county level for those who wish to.
This enables the club to offer full year of bowling activities and have a shortmat only membership for anyone who can't, or does not wish to, play outdoors..
We owe a great deal of debt to Dennis and those original members as they created the foundation of the club that we now enjoy, some of whom are still playing. Indeed in 2014, we dedicated the clubhouse in his honour.