was not difficult to decide on our first "Featured" member.
Harry has arguably been the best long length bowler in Staffordshire Parks circles for the last half century.
In three seasons, from 1955 to 1957 he was never beaten in a Parks League match, at home or away. In this period he clocked up an amazing unbeaten run of 65 games.
It was in 1933 that Harry Garner, a teapot jollier at Alcock Lindley and Bloore pottery, took up the game at Middleport Park. Initially Harry preferred shorter marks and but he tells the following story of how he came to develop his uncanny accuracy on "corner to corner marks.
"I was in the Middleport B team playing a chap named Rushton at Cobridge. On a short mark along the edge of the bottom side of the green I couldn't go wrong and was 16 - 5 up. Then he won the jack and stretched me out into the corners and I never scored another chalk. A week later I was drawn to play in the merit at Knypersley and exactly the same thing happened.
I said to myself that until you can learn to play long lengths you'll never be a bowler. I began to dash up to the green at 6 o'clock, while it was empty and practice and practice on my own".
That practice paid off and Harry was soon promoted to the A side. He helped Middleport gain successes in the Sentinel Cup, F.S. Jones Cup and the League championship.
Then came that fantastic spell of League success in the mid 50s. He reached the final of the Staffs Parks individual merit in 1955 but was beaten by the late Phil Clarke of Fenton; Harry went one better a year later.
On his retirement, and after 35 years at Middleport, Harry and his wife moved to Clayton and he joined Westlands Bowling Club for the 1970 season. At that time the Club was going through a fairly difficult period having relatively few members; only 12 attended the AGM for the 1970 season. Those present discussed whether it was worth continuing to play in League or Cup matches. They decided to continue and in the following years Harry did much to improve the playing fortunes of the Club. He was team captain for 8 consecutive years and won the team average prize in the years 1972 to 1979. During the 70s the Club grew in numbers and 33 members attended the Club AGM of 1978.
In 1979 Harry Garner had the rare honour of being made a life member of both Middleport Park and Westlands Bowling Club.
Harry continued bowling into his nineties and celebrated his 90th Birthday at Westlands, some of the photos taken on this occasion are shown below..
|Photos of Harry celebrating his 90th Birthday at Westlands Bowling Club.
Harry passing on useful tips to 2 Club "youngsters" (Tony & Bernard).
Harry with Club President, Mike Rushworth.
failing eyesight finally prevented him from playing but he still retained a very
keen interest in the game and the Club.
Harry passed away on Saturday August 7 2004 at the age of 97.