In 1958 Joe Ball was the ‘A’ Division representative on the Lancashire County Fire Brigade Sports Committee, Bill Rawlinson being the Chairman.
Quite by accident it came to Joe’s notice that the Southern Counties had formed a Fire Brigade Golf Society. He wrote to the London Fire Brigade requesting details of the society and as a result received back a letter from their Golf Secretary. The letter was submitted to the next meeting of the LCFB Sports Committee. After some discussion Joe made the proposal that a Northern Counties Fire Brigades’ Golf Society be formed. The proposal was carried resulting in a letter, reproduced below, being sent to all Fire Brigades in the North of England.
At a recent meeting of the Lancashire County Fire Brigade Sports Committee it was decided to contact all fire brigades in the North of England with the object of forming a ‘Northern Counties Fire Brigades’ Golfing Society’. The formation of such a society would add considerably to the prestige of the fire service and would probably lead to the formation of a Fire Brigade National Golf Association. It is suggested that an inaugural meeting be held at a central venue where the scheme could be discussed and a committee formed. Further suggestions are that a Northern Counties Golf Tournament be held annually, with each brigade donating a few pound toward the trophy. Also that brigades’ play home and away matches with each other; possibly forming a league. Your comments and suggestions would be appreciated and when all replies have been received, arrangements will be made to convene an early meeting.
Your support in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Later in 1958, after replies were received, it was decided that Manchester Fire Brigade should make the arrangements to hold a meeting due to their central position and strong golfing section. The members present at the meeting agreed unanimously to form a Society and laid down the basic format that is followed today. Larry Boyle, of Manchester, was the first secretary and Bill Rawlinson, of Lancashire, the first Chairman. It was not until 1975 that the office of President was created, when Bill was elected with Jack Lenney, of Merseyside, taking over as Chairman.
In 1959 the Northern Fire Brigades’ Golfing Society held its opening event where the first score cards were issued. Initially there were a small number of fixtures played each year, gradually growing to a regular four or five by the mid sixties, which became the norm throughout the 1970’s. At this time the programme usually included championship venues with the Society visiting: Birkdale, Royal Liverpool, Royal Lytham St. Annes, Hillside and St Annes Old Links, on the coast, and inland courses at Delamere Forest, Pleasington, Lindrick, Pannal and Moor Allerton to name but a few. Each event was followed by a meal and presentation of prizes and trophies.
A number of the Society’s trophies date from this era and were donated by fire engineering companies, for example, the Simon Snorkel Cup; Denis Cup; Epco Bowl; Land Rover Cup and the NU-Swift Cup. These and others, form part of the heritage of the Society which we celebrate this year. They are much coveted and can be played for each season. Let us look after them.
The 1980’s saw a change of policy regarding the courses we played at, which has continued to present times. It was decided to include fewer of the well known venues and instead seek out those that could accommodate our Society at a more modest charge. The reasons behind this being: the escalating cost of playing golf and needing to cater for a Society that was growing in its membership, some of whom were new to the game and had been discouraged by playing at more challenging venues. It was also decided to change the tradition of presenting trophies after each event. Instead, trophies won in competition throughout the year, were presented after the last event of the season, which coincided with the ‘President’s Day’ first established in 1975. This new arrangement included members staying on to enjoy a meal and the company of Society members at the host club. This has now become an established part of the golfing year and, not unnaturally, the President’s Day is the event everyone tries to attend.
The Society has seen many changes in its first 50 years. However, one thing that has remained constant is the opportunity to play a game that has fundamentally changed little in that time in respect of the objective: to play from tee to green in as few shots as possible and whilst doing so enjoy the company and friendship that the Society offers. Let the next fifty years continue in the same vein