Such good sports

From Harry Foy's Book  'Growing up in Portadown in the Thirties and Forties'

During the Twenties and Thirties there was mass unemployment so the men of the town spent a lot of time playing games. The most popular were cards, draughts, dominoes and darts. All streets had a well-known house where card schools were held regularly. They played pontoon, twenty-fives, solo and poker. The rule was that a halfpenny was taken out of each kitty to pay the owner of the house. Gradually huts sprang up so that men could meet for games and companionship. It was here that people learned about jobs that were vacant or about to commence. Draughts was the game for those with the brains and players visited each other's area to play challenge matches. I recall draughts matches played outside on a summer's evening and continuing by candlelight well into the night.

Then along came skittles and teams from all parts of the town took part in a skittles league. This was a game which united men from both sections: intercommunity relations before the name was thought of. In Marley Street there was a team called "Regal View" with their own hut which was built in a disused garden. It was about this time that the men of the Marley Street complex held meetings to start a bowls club. I remember as a small lad, sitting at the top of the stairs listening to the meetings which were held in our house. There was a piece of spare land adjoining the Pleasure Gardens which the men wished to transform into a bowling green. Councilor John Greenaway, who lived at the top of Marley Street, presented the request to the Council. The Council agreed and special one foot square sods were imported from Scotland. Once bowls was started a stipulation of the Council's was that since it was a public bowling green, two rinks must be kept free for the public. Bowls were supplied and the men wore gutties or rubber overshoes.

During the late Seventies, bowls could be still hired by groups who were experimenting with indoor bowls but the notice showing that the land was a public bowling green has long since disappeared. Bowls in Portadown owes its presence to an area of the town which no longer exists.
Market Day in Portadown.

Street gangs and fogging orchards.

The wee shops.

Colourful vendors.

The Canon's trip.

The Butterfly.

Greenaway's ghost.

Summer on the Bann.

The Great Lemonade Robbery.

My first day at school.

The packman.

Even the dog understood the language.


Our House.

A long throw since skittles game was born.

The Gas Man Cometh.

In tune with the band.

Clubs and tickmen.

Donald Campbell Had nothing on us.

The Obinsville Cowboys.

Singing in the streets.

The days of the sand quays.

The magic of Christmas.

Bombs - not sandwiches.

Skipping, football and cigarette cards.

Escape to the movies.

My first taste of plays.

Smuggling knew no borders.

The tale of the pigs.

Three brass balls.

Thanks for the memories.

First class show!.

Who could forget Mary Ann!.

Health remedies.

Fondly Remembered.

Going To The Dogs.


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