Delancey, one of 10 ‘jewels’, must be saved

Inside Track | Published:

YOU can think what you want about how local sports are run, but what Guernsey sports followers cannot realistically make a fuss over is in relation to our sporting facilities.

We are so lucky to have what we have.

But, there is a grave danger that we may soon lose one of our jewels and while the Delancey Bowling Green will never draw hundreds of spectators and many islanders may have never even see it, believe me it is one of our sporting treasures, one of Guernsey’s top 10 venues alongside (in no order) Footes Lane, the College Field, King George V Field, Hougue du Pommier, the Track, Guernsey Tennis Centre, Beau Sejour Centre, L’Ancresse Golf Links and the Rohais Badminton Halls.

We’d kick up a stink if any of the above were lost to island sport and while the Delancey Green is the least used of my select 10, I challenge the Guernsey Sports Commission to find a way for it to stay alive long beyond its 100th birthday – which is rushing up in 13 years’ time.

And why?

Even on the most grim days it is a delight and when the sun is out the Delancey Green is a beauty, looking out across the Little Russel sparkling in the morning, afternoon or evening sunshine.

Early scenes: The Delancey rink with its unhindered views of Herm and Jethou just after it opened in 1932. (24974548)

Its playing qualities may lack the international standard of the days Wilf Neville tended to it night and day as park groundsman, but it still plays well under the curation of the Education, Sport & Culture department.

It has a view to die for – truly wonderful – and while the ailing Northern Bowling Association which has occupied it since 1932 may lack the guile, guidance and inspiration to perform the sort of membership somersault Joe Thompson has miracled at the Guernsey Bowling Club based at Beau Sejour, the club needs some form of leg-up to keep the sport going on the eastern slopes of the park.


Curation fees are killing the club, which has played a huge recreational function for St Sampson’s parishioners throughout the vast majority of the 20th century.

My own view is that while it may not be imperative to save the NBA, although you would hope it does live on beyond this year, bowls must be preserved at Delancey for the island and not simply tossed away on the basis of current economic failings.

Once its gone, it is gone.

Bowls Guernsey, with some help from the commission, who could possibly be involved in utilising it as part of a social recreational scheme to pensioners and/or disabled, must find a way to ensure the sport continues there to keep alive the wish of one of the island’s most esteemed forebears – John Leale – that it should be for parishioners, about whom he obviously cared so much, to enjoy at their leisure.


Certainly, the scene could hardly have been more picturesque when in late May 1932 the bailiff, Arthur Bell, unveiled the memorial plaque to open the ‘magnificent bowling green at Delancey’ recalled the Press at the time.

It was a ‘present to the parish’ and in the words of Jurat Leale’s son, the Rev. J. Leale, who would become as influential in island life as his late father who had built up the famous Leale’s Yard business, ‘bowlers all seemed so happy in play and friendships formed’.

‘There was gratification,’ he said, ‘that it would provide happy recreation for the people with whom his father lived.’

That, of course, meant St Sampson’s parish, so perhaps it might be considered an ideal time for the douzaine to review what it might do to keep the facility open and utilised as Leale wished.

Some serious talking is needed, but I’d like to think the comisssion would take the lead here.

. EXCUSE the use of a golfing metaphor but, ultimately two wins out of five was probably a par score for Guernsey’s cricketers as the rain-hit ICC T20 European Championships came to a rightful conclusion – a Jersey win.

While there is much to lament about the state of the island’s senior game, its weakened flagship T20 side showed some character, which is something.

But, without delving into any major inquests so soon after the event, one would like to know how Guernsey took to the excellently prepared KGV and College Fields so short of so many of the island’s best players.

Something is not right and that should be the centre of inquests.

On an associated matter, where were the crowds?

It seems that islanders have become disengaged with the main summer game and as the tournament reached a magnificent crescendo with that terrific game between Jersey and Germany at the College Field, the Jersey supporters and cameramen outnumbered Guernsey folks.

Very sad.

. WELL after a few years of strong bonds between the GFA and Guernsey Football League Management boards, what are we to expect of future relationships after Thursday’s GFLM annual meeting?

Five new directors have arrived in Phil Corbet, Wayne Martel, Darren Ogier and Shaun Lihou and Neil Jarvis, working alongside fixtures man Keith Mansell and Corbet, a former Guernsey Muratti coach and first GFA development officer, sitting in the chair. I think it is no secret that the new chairman is not a fan of either the current GFA board or GFC project and has strong views on many issues in the local game, therefore it will be intriguing, at least, to see what develops in the coming months.

Meanwhile, expect some significant Bels news this weekend.

Rob Batiste

By Rob Batiste
Sports Editor

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