BOWLS: AN ELLESMERE PORT crown green bowling stalwart fears that his beloved sport could be dying a slow death in the town.

Pat Stanton, 74, skippered Vauxhall's Wednesday and Friday League teams for 27 years but now believes that a combination of closing greens and a lack of interest from younger generations could eventually see bowls being virtually wiped off the town's sporting map.

He said: 'I don't want to be the messenger of doom but it's always the same faces at greens and the numbers are dropping as those people get older.

'There are so many other distractions now that not many in the younger generations seem interested in taking up the game.

'Call it a wake-up call or a cry for help but something needs to be done to save bowls in Ellesmere Port.

'What really hit home for me was when I decided to go through some photographs I'd taken on finals days over the past decade and I saw that five of those greens don't even exist any more.

'It's not like these are ancient pictures oranything,theywere takeninthe1990s and one of them, the Catholic Club, was fantastic, the best green on the Wirral, so it's such a tragedy.'

The greens in question closed for varying reasons. Rivacre's Bowaters green closed when the paper mill shut, Capen-hurst fell victim to the high cost of repairs, the Catholic Club is now the site of luxury flats, Great Sutton is large housing, while building developments are also planned for Stanney Lane.

Pat said: 'I suppose you can't really blame the owners of the greens if bowls isn'tpayingandthere's moremoneytobe made by putting up property on the land. The interest just isn't there in the sport like it used to be. We do have some damn good bowlers coming through like the Ryan brothers but they're the exception to the rule.

'We used to have 12 teams in both divisions of the Ellesmere Port League but we're now down to seven.

'Teams like Neston have had to draft in female players to make up the numbers and almost half of their team are ladies now. Unless we start getting some new blood in, I fear the downward spiral will continue.' nWhat do you think about the future of bowls in Ellesmere Port?

Let us know by e-mailing or call Christopher Beesley on 0151 356 2494.