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Captain’s Log: Gill Hodder, Stroud Bowls Club

Gloucestershire South > Sport > Bowls

Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 09:00, Tags: Captain's Log

Frank and Gill Hodder Frank and Gill Hodder

Gill Hodder started bowling two weeks after she met her husband-to-be Frank.

She was 21 years old at the time and as she’s now just turned 68 so it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that she has been playing the sport for not far short of 50 years.

“Frank played bowls and cricket and the two things I hated more than anything were bowls and cricket,” Gill laughed.

She never did get into her cricket even though Frank was captain of Stonehouse for a good number of years – “I still hate it!” she confirmed – but she tried the bowling, liked it and has never looked back since.

So much so that she is now one of the main people at Stroud Bowls Club, a club which can be found at Stratford Park.

Stratford Park was actually the place where Gill and Frank met.

“It’s all his fault!” she said with a laugh of her love of all things bowls. “It was 1972, I remember it well. I was playing golf on the putting green with my friend, it isn’t there any more. There were three fellas playing in a group behind us and they were just being boys.

“My friend knew two of them but she didn’t know Frank.”

These days Gill is captain of Stroud Bowls Club as well as being club secretary.

“You name it, I do it,” she laughed. “I was going to do the captaincy for 12 months, that was probably nearly 10 years ago.”

She’s not been secretary for quite so long and is hoping this will be her last year in that role.

And Gill has certainly done her fair share in the bowls world because she was also Gloucestershire ladies’ president in both 2000 and 2015.

“If you’re a bowler I don’t think you’ve got a life,” she laughed.

And while that is obviously not true she did admit that she does find it difficult to go on holiday in the summer.

“We got married in the summer and last year was our 45th anniversary,” she said.

“We managed to get away for four days and we’re going away for a weekend in June this year.”

Those few days away will be pretty much the only days that you won’t see Gill at the club this season.

“I’m there just about every day,” she said, “there’s always something going on. We’re either playing or doing teas or suppers.

“We normally open the green around Easter time and have our first game at the end of April.

“The season goes on until the middle of September.”

The club have 31 members – “They’re a great lot,” said Gill – including Frank, who has never captained the bowls club even though he knows how to lead a sports team.

“He said one of us being captain was enough,” explained Gill.

And she admits they don’t play together as a pair very often.

“Maybe once at the start of the season,” she chuckled. “We love each other very much but it’s a husband and wife thing, I can’t explain it, you either enjoy playing with each other or you don’t.”

She still loves to see Frank around the club, of course, as she does all the other members.

“I’m very lucky because Pat Ward-Davies is my vice-captain,” continued Gill. “She’s lovely, she’s in her fourth season as vice-captain and we get on like a house on fire.”

And there are others who Gill is keen to namecheck too.

“Pete Williams is our president/chairman,” added Gill. “He’s been at the bowls club for a long time and carries the mantle of Mr Stroud Bowls Club.

“Anne Evans is the treasurer and looks after our little bit of money and there are so many more.

“Jackie Howes and Jean Crook look after us every Friday night, they provide the food, it’s a great club.”

And it’s still going very strong even though like pretty much every other club they’d like more members.

“The great thing about bowls is if you want a sedate game that’s great,” said Gill, “but if you want a competitive game that’s great too.”

Gill falls very much into the second category, even though she admits she had some teething problems when she first took up the sport.

“I bowl left-handed and I used to bowl off the wrong foot,” she said. “I used to bowl off my left foot and Frank said I should bowl off my right. Now I do it properly!”

She certainly does, so much so that she has a big target this season.

“We have a team in the national mixed fours – that’s four men and four women,” she explained.

“Last season we just missed out on a place in the finals at Leamington. We were beaten by Banbury in the dark on an extra end – the match was played on a neutral green at Broadway.

“I would love to go one better this year. We’ve been area champions for the past two years, is this our year to go all the way?”

Everyone at Stroud will certainly be hoping so and if it is there will be no one more deserving than Gill Hodder.

Other Images

Jean Crook and Jacky Howes

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