Extension for petanque pitch

EXTENSION: Heckmondwike Petanque Club players on their terrain.

EXTENSION: Heckmondwike Petanque Club players on their terrain.

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A FRENCH bowls terrain is to be extended thanks to Spen Valley Area Committee.

Heckmondwike Petanque Club, which says it is the biggest in Yorkshire, asked for almost £7,000 to extend its terrain in Firth Park for more players to take part.

Club secretary Alan Oxley said: “Kirklees Council provided the terrain in February this year and a few of us started a club in March.

“In no time at all we had 50 members and we are now the largest club in Yorkshire.

“We have had to put a cap on members, which is frustrating.”

Mr Oxley said he understood members might be reluctant to grant money if the sport turned out to be a passing fad.

But he added: “Of 52 members, 45 were new to petanque. Most of them are aged over 60 and most played with cheap leisure boules.

“Most of the members have gone out and paid £80 each for a set of genuine French boules.

“Nobody is going to spend £80 then use them as Christmas decorations the next year. And everybody has bought a sweatshirt with an emblem. These new members have spent £100 each.

“The nearest terrains are in Wetherby and Leeds. There are clubs but not nearly enough – we have a waiting list of six people.”

Mr Oxley said club members all helped out with cleaning the pavilion and providing refreshments.

“The current terrain is very good but will only support 36 players. We have had more than 36 turn up and on those occasions players are sitting at the side for up to an hour.

“A two-metre extension would give two extra lanes which is enough for 48 players.”

Coun Margaret Bates (Con, Liversedge and Gomersal) said: “You hear about so many groups folding and here is a group that’s expanding.

“I think it’s a fantastic scheme and I am pleased that North Kirklees has something the south doesn’t have!”

The group was awarded £6,912.