The Torquay Skittles League was formed on 18th June 1953. In the first season (1953 – 54) 148 players were registered playing for 8 teams who competed both for the League Championship and the Challenge Cup.
The first AGM was held on 14th June 1954 at the Combined Ex-Serviceman’s Club. The registration fee was 1/- per player. If any matches were postponed the team secretaries were responsible for re-arranging the match and notifying the League Secretary within 7 days of the original fixture. Teams playing unregistered players were fined 5/- and failure to submit the match result or fee resulted in a fine of 2/6d.
At the end of the first season the League had a balance of £12/2/7d!
Seven more teams entered the league in 1954.
At the first Committee meeting of the 1954 – 55 season it was agreed that a charge of 1/- be made for the Handbooks. Later that year it was decided to run an Individual competition over 4 legs and 83 players entered. The Committee agreed to hold a Presentation Dinner and Dance at the end of the season, tickets to cost 7/6d and the Committee considered a possible subsidy for League members from League funds of 2/6d. A total of 113 people attended the first Dinner and Dance (62 members and 51 friends) and the event made a loss of £18/16/3d.
The attendance at the 2nd AGM in July 1955 was extremely poor as apart from 7 members of the Committee there were only 5 other members present. A further 4 teams entered the League and a Second Division was created. During the course of the year it was agreed to enter the Devon County Competition. The representative team was decided by a play off (home and away) between the winners of Division 1 and the winners of Division 2. The League’s first representatives at the Finals were the Golden Rockets.
The 1956 – 57 season saw an increase in the number of teams to 22 and the number of registered players rose to 365. The attendance at the 4th AGM held in June 1957 was much better as apart from the Officers and the Committee 50 other members attended and all teams in the League were represented. At that meeting it was agreed that the Individual Competition should be run initially by the Clubs themselves with 1 in 5 going through to the final rounds and that the competition be held over 6 legs.
At the 5th AGM held in June 1958 it was decided that the Committee remained at 9 members but that only one member from each team could be elected. A proposal was made that any drawn match in the Challenge Cup be decided by playing an extra leg rather than being replayed was defeated. It was agreed that the League’s representative team for the Devon County Competition should be decided by a knock-out competition. 8 teams entered for the first knock-out competition. That format for the selection of the Devon County representative team continued until 1980.
Throughout 1959 and 1960 there were numerous incidents of late submission of score cards, playing of unregistered players, non appearance of teams at matches and incorrect completion of score cards which were appropriately dealt with by the Committee by the enforcement of the Rules.
At the AGM in June 1960 it was decided to run an open pairs competition in place of the individual competition. 104 pairs entered in the first season.
By 1961 the League had expanded to 32 teams divided into 3 Divisions. There was an increase in the Registration fee to 1/6d. and the match fee remained at 6d.
At a Committee meeting in April 1962 it was agreed to give the typist
a gratuity of £1.
Prior to 1962 the League had appointed a Fixture Secretary who was responsible primarily for dealing with press reports. At the AGM in June 1962 it was agreed that an Assistant Secretary be appointed in place of a Fixture Secretary. A Ladies Individual Competition was introduced in the 1962/63 season.
The AGM in June 1963 changed the method of selection of the Gents team for the Inter League (South Devon) competition by agreeing that the team would be selected from the 12 highest averages. The Ladies team was chosen by six players from the all Ladies teams and four from the rest of the registered players.
The AGM in June 1964 changed the arrangements for the re-scheduling of postponed matches which had formerly been the responsibility of the two teams involved. Henceforth the League Secretary would do any re-arrangement of postponed matches. A change was also made to the method of selection of the Ladies team for the Inter League making it the same as used for the selection of the Gents team.
A proposal was submitted to the AGM in June 1965 that any all lady teams should be given a 10 pin start per match. That proposal was defeated. By the start of the 1965 – 66 season a number of new teams had joined the League bringing the total to 43 teams and a Fourth Division was created. Also a further knock out team competition (the Roy Perry Trophy) was started. In 1966 the registration fee was increased to 2/6d.
In 1967 both the Gents and the Ladies teams won their respective Inter League trophies, the first time that any League had won both trophies in the same year. The AGM in June 1967 agreed to do away with the no ball line for twelve months substituting that players had to stand behind the line when throwing. The Division 2 cup was stolen from the Combined Alley but was subsequently recovered.
An individual competition at the Devon County competition in 1968 was introduced and it was agreed that the League’s representative would be the player with the highest average. Despite a report from the Secretary that the absence of the no ball was successful, the AGM in June 1968 decided to re-instate the no ball line for the following season. In view of the large number of postponed matches in the previous few seasons the Committee proposed that no postponements be allowed but this was defeated at the AGM. In November 1968 the Committee agreed to purchase a typewriter at a cost of £9.
At the AGM in June 1969 a proposal that a team be allowed to postpone only one match per season with only one re-arranged date being given was adopted.
In 1970 there were 658 registered players. The League continued to attract new teams and by 1971 there were 60 teams in the League. A Fifth Division was established in 1971. Due to the increase in the size of the League the Committee was increased to 13 and a Press Secretary was appointed. It was also agreed to install a phone in the home of the Secretary.
A further nine teams joined the League in 1972 and a Sixth Division was created. The following year a further 14 teams joined the League bringing the total number of teams in the League to 83 divided into seven Divisions. A total of 1176 players were registered with the League for the 1973 – 74 season. Also at the AGM in June 1973 it was necessary to raise the players registration fee from 12p to 15p. This was further increased to 20p in 1974. In the same year the match fees were doubled from 5p to 10p and other increases were made in cup entry fees and fines. A duplicator and a calculator were purchased to assist the Secretary and Treasurer.
In the mid 1970’s the Presentation Buffet and Dance was held at the Torbay Chalet with a maximum limit of 550. The event was often oversubscribed (for instance in 1977 there were applications for 636 tickets) and some teams had to be restricted in the number of tickets allowed.
At the AGM in June 1976 it was agreed to introduce a back line to denote the end of the alley. It was also agreed that in the cup competitions if a match was drawn after six legs than extra legs would be played until a result was obtained. A proposal to introduce a Ladies Pairs competition in place of the Individual competition was defeated. A new, more suitable typewriter was purchased.
A proposal to split the League and form separate Torquay and Paignton Leagues was defeated at the AGM in June 1977. At the following year’s AGM a proposal to change the name of the League to the Torbay Skittles League was defeated.
The winners of the League’s Devon County Cup competition (and therefore the League’s representatives at the Devon County Finals) in 1979 had only six men registered. The rules of the competition required a full men’s team and the Committee agreed that those six registered players plus three others selected by the captain of the winning team be the League’s representative team. At the AGM in June 1979 a change was made to the method of selecting the team for the Devon County Finals. In future the Gents team would be selected from the 10 highest averages bringing it in line with the method of selecting the Ladies team. However the Devon County Cup was retained as a separate knock out cup competition. A proposal that honoraria be paid to the Secretary, Treasurer, Press Secretary and Assistant Secretary was narrowly defeated.
An 8th Division was established in 1979 making a total of 96 teams in the League. Both the Ladies and the Gents teams won their respective Devon County Finals in 1980. The AGM in June 1980 agreed to replace the Ladies Individual competition with a Ladies Pairs competition.
During the course of the 1980 - 81 season the Committee considered a suggestion that a Final’s Day be held with the semi-finals and finals of the three team cup competition and the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals of the two Pairs competition being played. The first Finals Day was held in 1981.
By 1982 there were 107 teams in the League and a new 9th Division was introduced. At the AGM in June 1982 it was agreed that the Committee should be increased to 25 members. Further only 41 teams were represented at the AGM and the Committee proposed that in future all teams should be required to send at least one representative to the AGM or be liable to a fine. This was accepted by the AGM.
In 1983 a change was made to the method of payment of the League match fees. In future these fees would become liable to be paid twice a season on 1st December and 1st March. A proposal that the ‘no-ball’ line be replaced with a ‘foot’ line was rejected. It was also agreed that team would be allowed to postpone up to two matches per season. A proposal to award annual honorariums of £100 each to the Secretary, Treasurer and Press Secretary was accepted.
During the course of 1984 both the AGM and the Committee considered whether the League should specify a minimum length of alleys and throwing area but no specific proposals were ever made. In 1985 enquiries were made regarding the possibility of purchasing a computer for the League. However it was considered to be impracticable since the cost was estimated to be £6,000.00.
At the AGM in 1985 the maximum number of players from any one team who could serve on the Committee was raised to three. The League received sponsorship from the Herald Express and in recognition the former Devon County Cup was renamed the Herald Express Cup. The cost of the installation of a telephone for the Press Secretary was approved.
In 1986 a proposal was made that the ‘no ball’ line be changed to a ‘foot line’. There was some confusion both at the AGM and subsequently regarding the result of the vote and a postal ballot was held resulting in the existing rule remaining in force. It was also agreed to investigate the possibility of standardising the skittles and balls used in the League. A suggestion was made that the League consider the establishment of a permanent headquarters to accommodate regular team league matches and special events such as cup finals.
Throughout the 1980’s (and particularly in 1986/87) there were many occasions of complaints being made about the conduct of players at matches particularly the use of threatening behaviour and/or foul and abusive language. Consideration of these complaints by the Committee generally resulted in the offending players being suspended from the League or severely reprimanded and warned as to their future conduct.
A change was initiated at the 1987 AGM in that all teams had received
prior notification of the matters to be raised or discussed at the meeting.
It was further agreed that, in view of the problems at the previous year’s
AGM, each team would be allowed only two voting delegates and all votes
would be taken on a card voting system. A proposal to replace the ‘no
ball’ line with a ‘foot line’ was approved.
In 1987 a sub Committee was established to examine the League Rules and to recommend any changes. That sub-Committee continued its work throughout 1987 and 1988 and submitted a completely new set of Rules and Regulations. These revised Rules and Regulations were circulated to all teams at the end of 1988. In 1988 the Committee agreed to purchase an alley, pins and balls for the League’s use.
Consideration was given in 1988 to making the Challenge Cup a ‘front pin first’ competition but this suggestion was defeated at the AGM. An answering machine was purchased for the use of the Secretary.
In 1989 the League’s Gents team won the Devon County competition for only the second time in the history of the League. The Committee subsequently decided that this team should be entered in the Devon County Open competition. The revised set of Rules and Regulations were adopted at the AGM in 1989. Another proposal to change the name of the League to the Torbay Skittles League was again defeated. The Assistant Secretary was granted an annual honorarium.
In 1991 the Committee agreed to the purchase of a computer together with a programme to work out the fixture list at a cost of £600. A new style League handbook was introduced for the 1991/92 season.
In 1992 the Torquay Ladies team won the Devon Open championship at their first attempt.
During the early 1990’s several request were made to the Committee for the League to accept new trophies. The view taken by the Committee was that, whilst the offer to donate new trophies was generous, there were already too many trophies and new trophies would only be accepted in exceptional circumstances.
Prior to 1995 the League had borrowed portable alleys for use at Finals Day and Devon County Championships. However in 1995 the Committee agreed to build two alleys and to purchase two sets of pins and balls for use at such events.
In 1996 it was agreed to purchase a computer and printer together with an appropriate computer programme to assist the Press Secretary. Supa Roofing Centre of Kingskerswell began sponsoring the League in 1996.
At the Annual Presentation in May 1997 Gordon Stone, the Treasurer of the League, was presented with a gift and a certificate in recognition of 40 years service to the League. Also in 1997 it was agreed that the League should provide team shirts for the League’s representative teams.
For many years in the 1990’s there had been problems regarding the number of cancelled pairs matches with up to 25% of the matches being cancelled. Despite mention of the problems caused being made of several occasions there was no significant improvement and consequently at the AGM in June 1999 it was decided to scrap the competition. Further, following problems that had arisen over many years regarding cancelled matches, the AGM in June 2001 decided to amend the Rules to allow teams to cancel only two matches per season. Further no cancellations would be permitted after 31st December.
During the course of the 2001 - 2002 season investigations were initiated regarding the possibility of the League having its own web site. A web site was subsequently established and revised in 2004.
In 2003 the Torquay Gents team had won both the Devon County and the Devon Open Championships and the Under 21 team had won their competition for the first time. At the AGM in June 2003 a proposal to amend the Regulation by reducing the ball clearance was defeated overwhelmingly.
In 2004 Mike Farley, the Secretary of the League, was presented with a gift and certificate in recognition of completing 25 years service as Secretary. Following the death in February 2003 of Gordon Stone, the Treasurer, it was agreed that the Challenge Cup (the League’s oldest Cup) be renamed the Gordon Stone Challenge Cup in his memory.