Alley Cats

Mike Wilson goes indoor bowling.

Memphis has landed in Edinburgh. The newly-opened Megabowl ten-pin bowling alley, on the east side of town, evokes Fifties’ Americana, with an interior that draws heavily on the Milanese design style which bears the name of the Tennessee city.

Ten-pin bowling has always been much bigger in the US than over here, even when the UK had a passionate, though brief, love affair with the game during the late Fifties and early Sixties.

While big money prizes continue to play their part in the American playing circuit here, the potential to earn money lies not so much in good players turning semi or fully professional and competing in Leagues, but in the provision of bowling alleys catering for the family.

In the Financial Times, earlier this year, it was noted that the decline in the game‘s fortunes characterised by alleys being closed down and turned into bingo halls, garages and supermarkets throughout the 1970s— is about to be reversed through the involvement of leisure companies.

Last December, two bowling alleys were opened, by small, independent companies in Ayr and Livingston;

allow 21 days for delivery. Otter subject to availability.

Edinburgh Elli tTE.


and in September, the larger Allied Restaurants plc opened the first of its Scottish operations, at Newcraighall in Edinburgh (at a cost of £1 .65 million), with another due to be established in Clydebank by May of next year.

For Memphis, perhaps you should read Phoenix, since, suddenly, at least three major leisure groups (Allied Restaurants, First Leisure and Granada) have taken separate decisions to establish themselves in the market for ten-pin bowling. All three are actively seeking sites throughout the UK, with Allied Restaurants planning to add to its Scottish facilities by establishing alleys in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee. Indeed, only last week, that other paragon of objective, earnest journalism, The Sun, invited ’sharp-eyed sports fans’ to suggest sites to Allied Restaurants, with a possible reward of £10,000 for their services.

‘Back in the Sixties, when I was


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involved as a semi-professional, League bowling dominated the scene,’ says JeffJennings, General Manager of Megabowl in Edinburgh. ‘But nowadays, we are very involved in providing a family entertainment. There is something for all the family here. Besides the bowling alleys, there is a fully licenced bar, a diner and a creche. We find that promoting family involvement creates a great atmosphere, and already we are generally fully booked every evening.’

Ten-pin bowling is a game which requires next to no technical ability to complete an enjoyable and satisfying match; but at the same time, it promises enough challenges to convince some players to take up the game in a much more serious capacity.

Rolling a ball down the middle of a lane might score respectably, but the technique required to consistently score ten involves many long hours perfecting the release of the ball so that it hits the target (not the head


pin as many beginners might think) at the correct angle, with the necessary spinning motion and the ideal speed.

‘There are certain techniques which can be developed, starting with your position on the lane in front ofthe Foul Line and the follow-through when the ball is released,‘ continues Jennings. ‘My technique involves sending the ball down the edge ofthe lane, and getting it to hook in on the pins. I even went across to America to improve my style, to watch one person, a hero ofmine at the time called Dick Webber.

‘As you get better, you won’t look at the pins as your target, but at one of a number of arrows which are marked 20ft down the 60ft lane. But the initial fun of bowling is that it doesn’t matter whether you can bowl or not. Maybe. the first scores will be 50 or 60; after a while, it could reach the 805; and as you start looking to get a hundred, you begin to concentrate, the game begins to take over; you might start taking lessons. Like any sport,,people can get fascinated.‘

In Ayr and Livingston, the fascination with ten-pin bowling is such that their operators are talking of ‘an unbelievable response’, confident that throughout central Scotland there are going to be dozens ofnew alleys opened in the near future.

John Hunter, at the Ayr Bowl, feels that the success of ten-pin bowling is guaranteed because ‘it appeals to all members ofthe family and is not a selfish activity. like many

~ sports..Furthermore, playing the

game is made a lot easier by the computerised scoring system. I think there is no doubt that the game is about to mushroom.‘


I Edinburgh Megabowl, Craig Park, Newcraighall Road, Edinburgh, 031 657 3731. In addition to 26 fully-computerised bowling lanes, there is a licenced bar, a fast food diner and a creche. Open 7 days, Mon—Thurs IOam—midnight, Fri lOam—lam, Sat 9am—lam, Sun 9am—midnight. Adult ticket prices: Mon—Fri, 10am-5pm, £1 .50;

extensive facilities for the physically handicapped. I Glenrothes Fraser Bowling Ltd, 4 Albany Gate, Glenrothes, 0592 752433. This alley has been in operation for 25 years, yet its 10 lanes boast very modern mechanisms. They require a degree of technical proficiency, where others might not. Open 7 days, Mon—Fri.

1 lam; Saturdays and Sundays, 9am. There is no

built), a licensed bar and a cafe. Open 7 days. each day from 10am. Closes Sun—Thurs at midnight, Fri and Sat at lam. Adult ticket prices: Mon—Fri before 5pm, £1 .50: other times. £1.80. Shoe hire: 50p.

I Livingston Deer Park Golfand Country Club, Knightsridge West. Livingston, 0506 31037. Sixteen fully computerised lanes, two licensed bars, restaurant,

Saturdays, Sundays and set closing time; diner, creche. Started Bank Holidays, occasionally games operating in December of 10am—5pm,£l.90; continue until very late last year also. Opcn7 Mon—Thurs, into the next day. Adult days. Mon—Sat spin—midnight, £190; ticket prices: Mon—Fri mam—midnight; Sun Fridays, Saturdays, before 6pm, £1 .30; other I lam—l 1.30pm. Adult Sundays and Bank I times,£1.50. Shoe hire: ticket prices: before 5pm,

Holidays. 5pm-close, £2. Shoe hire: 50p. Group and CA? concessions are avaiable at the manager’s discretion for daytime

use. Lanes can be booked for£15 per hour pcrlanc, with a maximum of six people per lane. There are

25p. There is a licensed bar and a cafe.

I Ayr Hunter Leisure (Ayr Bowl) 17 Miller Road, Ayr, 0292611511. Opened last December. there are sixteen fully-computerised lanes (with a further six being

£1.70; after 5pm,£1.90. Shoe hire, 50p. After 7pm, Mon—Sat, there is a £1 entrance fee on top of the hire charges: on Sunday. the £1 extra applies throughout the day.

80 The List 10— 23 November 1989