Willie Wood Drakes Pride Bowl Becomes Established
With the launch of a new composition bowl it was not easy to be noticed against the already established bowls manufactures. However with the help of the great Scottish Bowler Willie Wood the Drakes Pride bowl became established.
1983 the launch of the Willie Wood professional model bowl
L-R Norman Clare; Willie Wood; Peter Clare
The sales brochure for the Willie Wood Professional model bowl
Granada TV in the mid 1980's promoted bowls with a major event televised from their Manchester Studio. It was called the 'Superbowl' and pitted top Crown Green Bowlers against Top lawn Bowlers playing indoor lawn bowls on a specially installed carpet. Drakes Pride was involved and at the 1985 recording the 'Bowls International' magazine 'Spot the difference' winner had her set of bowls presented at the studio. The picture below was used as an advert in the December 1985 edition and shows Willie Wood presenting Jean Rose with her set of Willie Wood 'Professional' bowls. Tom Brophy the Production manager of Drakes Pride is on the right.
As the Professional Model proved to be excellent on quality outdoor greens and indoor surfaces another model was required for slow UK outdoor greens and so the Melbourne model was introduced.
At first the business traded as 'The Clare Bowls Centre' with using the address of Queen Anne Street, but as the bowls became more popular it was necessary to supply the retail bowls outlets it was decided to call the business Drakes Pride re-establishing the trade mark with the business name.
In the 1980's the catalogues and adverts of that period show the address as 5-11 Springfield, Liverpool where not only the office and stockroom were situated but also a small trade counter.
Also at that time when Tom Brophy and Peter Clare attended bowls matches Willie Wood not only introduced them to the officials but also to the top players at those events. So it was that they met Ian Dickison an up and coming New Zealand bowler who so like the bowls he asked to be their agent in New Zealand. So once the bowls were accepted as meeting the NZBA (New Zealand Bowls Association) regulations the first export of Drakes Pride bowls took place. The fact that Ian one the Singles Gold medal at the 1986 Commonwealth Games playing with a set of the 'International' model Drakes pride bowl was a tremendous boost in the early days.
Ian Dickison (NZ) with the gold medal, Ian Shuback (AUS) with Silver and Richard Corsie (Scotland) with Bronze
1986 Commonwealth Games - Edinburgh
Part of the poster promoting the Drakes Pride bowl in New Zealand
Note - the NZBA 86 stamp on the bowl