East Surrey Bowls League

East Surrey Bowls League History


During the mid-eighties in the clubhouse at Old Coulsdon Bowling Club the members spent many an hour discussing the merits of forming a league for local bowling clubs.

The club Committee decided to invite some of the local clubs to a meeting on the 22nd April 1986 with the view to forming a league.

The clubs supported the idea and the “East Surrey Bowls League” was formed.

Two Old Coulsdon BC members Don Stanley and Roy Capey an ex-Football League referee of some note were the prime movers for starting a league and went on to be the first elected President and Chairman respectively of the newly formed “East Surrey Bowls League”

The original clubs were Caterham, Chipstead (withdrew 1993-1999), Godstone (withdrew 2014), Old Coulsdon, Redhill (withdrew 1988), Shirley Park and Wallington Bowling Clubs.

Later that year on the 20th September the clubs were joined by Bletchingley BC and Epsom BC to become the leagues nine Founder Members.

The clubs commenced playing league games in the 1987 season.

An Inter-Club knockout competition called the “ESL Top Ten” was successfully introduced into the playing programme in 1997.

With the growth of competitive competition, the ESL Member Clubs have increased in number with the introduction of Cheam Fields BC and Horley BC (1989), Ashtead BC and Sutton BC (1990), Purley BC (1994), Dorking (2006), Warlingham Park BC (2008), Purley Bury BC in 2009, Cheam BC and Croydon BC (2015), Croydon M.O. BC (Nov 2016) increased the strength of the league up to 18 clubs.

The popular Don Stanley remained the President for 11 years and shortly after stepping down from the position was granted the title of Honorary Life Vice President.

Roy Capey held the Office of Chairman for 13 years until 1999. The Chairman’s responsibility of maintaining the excellent reputation of the League passed to Bill Ellis who continued to lead his hard-working Committee for the next 13 years to success, growth and enhancement of the status of the ESL within Surrey County Bowling circles.

The ESL has been blessed through the years with a number of very professional League Secretaries, Presidents, Chairman and more recently Web Masters who have all contributed to making the League possibly the best run league in the County.  

Since 2013, at the request of the Member clubs the committee of President Trevor Pocock, Chairman Vic Painter, Secretary Paul King and Web guru Alan Huxtable continued on with the work of former Delegate Ron Snow to arrive at a template that saw the East Surrey League move to a two-division promotion/relegation league as the next phase of its development in 2015.

After 20 years the “Top Ten” knockout competition changed to the “Top Eleven” in 2018 falling into line with the National competition.                                                     

David Popejoy combined the roles of Social Sec. (11/2015) with League Secretary in November 2018 until his passing in June 2022, Martin Harbottle took on the role of Treasurer in November 2018.

The global Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020 so disrupted life in the country that it prevented the ESL from playing either of its two competitions much to the disappointment of all the member clubs.  

Following government guidelines and the clubs themselves agreeing a number of temporary playing format changes for season 2021 such as reducing to 3 rinks from the traditional 4 rinks, a full season was played. At the 2021 AGM the changes were extended through into season 2022 with a view to returning to the traditional format in 2023, unfortunately most clubs suffered a downturn in playing membership and it was decided that the League should permanently reduce to 3 rinks to prevent a number of clubs having to withdraw from the League.

At the AGM in 2022 Redhill B.C., a Founder member, re-joined the League for the 2023 season, replacing Warlingham Park who withdrew at the end of 2021 due to a lack of playing resources.

Season 2023 saw 8 of the ESL clubs expand into the newly formed ESL Midweek/Weekday Triples League which was part of former League Secretary Dave Popejoy’s expansion plans for the ESL. Dave’s club Purley Bury presented a splendid trophy bearing Dave’s name to be held by the winners of the Triples League.

For season 2024 the Triples League will be expanded with the introduction of Epsom Park BC who will be the first non-ESL affiliated club to play in the Triples League

Mike Taylor (CMO) was elected to the ESL Management Committee in November 2022, filling the roles of League Secretary and Social Secretary.