Macca drops in on Cardiff Bowls Club
As part of Cardiff City FC’s historic and iconic matchday programme covers around the city this season, Berkshire bowler Mark McGuinness, who has just signed a new contract with the club, has been featured at Cardiff Bowls Club. With Mark’s family history in bowls, it covered both bases visiting there and highlighted an important sporting landmark.
Situated at Sophia Gardens in the heart of Cardiff, Cardiff Bowls Club has been a pillar of the local sporting community for almost 145 years.
The Bluebirds are no strangers to Sophia Gardens, which is currently home of the Sport Wales National Centre and Glamorgan County Cricket Club.
For the first 11 years of our existence, nine of them as Riverside AFC, we played our home fixtures at Sophia Gardens’ recreational ground, before moving to Ninian Park in 1910.
Cardiff Bowls Club was formed in 1878 and is one of the oldest and best-known bowling clubs in the UK. Founded by the Marquess of Bute, the club was housed on land owned by the Bute family, until in 1947, along with Cardiff Castle, a large deal of this land was gifted to the citizens of the city of Cardiff.
Cardiff Bowls Club was awarded a 999-year lease, with a ground rent of £1 per year, which expires in 2947. The clubhouse now boasts one of the best indoor playing surfaces in the UK,
with the club having hosted several Commonwealth and international tournaments in past years.
City centre back McGuinness – who has put pen to paper on a new contract in the Welsh capital, tying his future to the Bluebirds with a four-year deal – has a close connection with the sport and Gerrards Cross BC.
“Bowls has always been a big part of the McGuinness household too. My dad (John) represented England in the Commonwealth Games and won a silver medal. My older brother (Tom) plays bowls as well. I was up in Leamington Spa the other day, watching them in their national finals.
“It’s been a big part of our family and my dad has played at a high level for a number of years. That’s helped me to see what it takes to play any sport at the top. It’s a completely different sport to football, but it’s still got that correlation in terms of high-quality sport.”
Amongst the usual buzz that the new football season brings, plus the several summer signings who have added to that excitement, word of Mark’s renewed commitment to Cardiff City was met with positive responses across South Wales.
The defender, who has certainly shown his capabilities at Championship level over the past two seasons, has already ingrained himself as a key member of Erol Bulut’s XI, slotting in nicely alongside Dimitri Goutas at the back.
Macca’s importance to the City side was magnified upon his return earlier this year from a loan spell last season with Sheffield Wednesday.
The Irish international made 17 League One appearances for the Owls, earning back-to-back player of the month awards at Hillsborough, before returning to Cardiff City Stadium in January to help the Bluebirds battle against relegation.
Macca spent the first half of last season on loan at Hillsborough, contributing to the Owls’ eventual promotion.
The 22-year-old has now committed his future to the Bluebirds.
“I’m very pleased. I love this club – I’ve been here for the past two years and had some good memories, so I’m glad that I’m going to be here for the next four years. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but I will always stand by the club and try my hardest to get the club back to where we want to be.
“The club itself, the fans, everyone involved has been phenomenal. You have guys that have been here for years, like Joe Ralls, who are a big factor in terms of me staying. But also the overall squad and the new players, the direction that the club is headed in is very positive. I want to be a part of that.”
He added: “I’m very dedicated and I love my job. I always try and make the most of it. It’s a 24-hour job, but I enjoy that. I like coming home, recovering and eating properly, as well as going into training and working hard. I enjoy doing that stuff, so as much as it’s a sacrifice, it’s easy when you enjoy it, and the rewards are high when you’re winning and you’re successful. It’s a short career, so why would you waste it?”
Caption: Mark with members of Cardiff BC
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