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I'm alright, Jack: Unusual sports club celebrates 40 years

PUBLISHED: 16:20 23 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:20 23 March 2019

Norwich Petanque Club member, Richard Jeffery, in action as the club celebrates its 40th anniversary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich Petanque Club member, Richard Jeffery, in action as the club celebrates its 40th anniversary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

It is a game which dates to the Middle Ages, ancient Rome and before that to ancient Greece and Egypt.

The Norwich Petanque Club celebrating its 40th anniversary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Norwich Petanque Club celebrating its 40th anniversary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But the Norwich Petanque Club is celebrating a more recent milestone with its 40th anniversary this year - making it the longest established club of its kind in the region.

The club, which was formed in 1979, started out at the Norman Centre in Norwich before moving to The Cottage pub in Thorpe St Andrew where it has remained ever since.

And to mark its anniverary year the club is looking to attract new players to come and try the sport which is suitable for all ages and abilities and accessible to wheelchair users and people with other disabilities.

Petanque is a form of boules where the goal is to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a Cochonnet or jack. The current form of the game originated in 1907 in La Ciotat, in Provence. The game is normally played on hard dirt or gravel, but can also be played on grass, sand or other surfaces.

Newcomers and members alike play as the Norwich Petanque Club celebrating its 40th anniversary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNewcomers and members alike play as the Norwich Petanque Club celebrating its 40th anniversary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Richard Jeffery, a member who joined last year, said the club had almost 70 members and was actively trying to encourage new players into the game of Petanque.

The 47-year-old said they were particularly keen to welcome younger people and those with disabilities.

He said: “All abilities can play, including people with disabilities.

“It’s a wheelchair friendly sport.

Petanque boules at the ready as the Norwich Petanque Club celebrates its 40th anniversary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPetanque boules at the ready as the Norwich Petanque Club celebrates its 40th anniversary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“It’s an easy game to get really competitive at fairly quickly.”

The club, which was initially formed with the co-operation of the Sports and Leisure department of Norwich City Council, held a come and try event on Saturday (March 23) and will be looking to hold similar events later in the year.

But Mr Jeffrey said those who could not make the event or other newcomers were welcome to attend on their weekly club night, every Wednesday at the Cottage pub from 7pm.

Over the years the club’s players have been at the forefront in competitions at all levels.

Newcomer Shirley Barrett has a go at Petanque as the Norwich Petanque Club celebrates its 40th anniversary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNewcomer Shirley Barrett has a go at Petanque as the Norwich Petanque Club celebrates its 40th anniversary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The club is currently represented by five teams in the Norfolk League and its associated Knockout Shield competition, with one of the club’s teams, The Norwich Reds, the current champions of Division One.

To find out more email contact@norwich-petanque.co.uk or call 01603 869276.

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