Greenwood Osterley Archers (GOA) was formed as an archery club in 1985 by the amalgamation of two existing Middlesex archery clubs UB Greenwood Bowmen and Osterley Bowmen (formerly Minimax Archery Club). A history of GOA requires including the development of the two clubs from which it was formed.
"Before the club was actually formed, the interest in archery began with 6 to 8 people shooting at old mattresses using Slazenger training bows. This took place on a very small piece of ground at the Iron Bridge, Southall. The keenness began to develop and it was decided to form a club, which eventually happened in late 1959 and was affiliated with GNAS as Greenwood Bowmen."
At this stage, the ground was not really big enough to shoot on, but eventually it was possible to hire an open bit of public ground outside Hayes Stadium on a Sunday afternoon for 2 hours. This was most unsatisfactory, due to the area having to be roped off before shooting started, but because it was open to the public, they still had the right to walk there, which they continued to do.
Use of this ground continued for some time, and the club was able to recruit new members, which were badly needed. Financially, the club was struggling, mainly because the fees were one shilling per week.(Which seemed a lot at the time). Members paid this fee on a weekly basis. Several Jumble Sales were held to raise money and which were successful, but a lot of hard work was involved.
Members were encouraged to enter small shoots where possible on Sundays even though it meant using the club training bows, but by doing this it saved money by not having to book the ground. This also helped to improve their shooting by competing and learning more about the sport. Charles Wilson, though not an archer, was at this time a good friend of the club and was keen to see the club progress. Sadly he died before the club really got started. The Charles Wilson Trophy was presented to the club in memory of Charles and because he was keen to encourage beginners the trophy has always been shot for on a handicap basis.
In 1967 the club found a permanent ground called United Colleges Schools (UCS) situated in Gower Road, Osterley (Now the Centaurs rugby ground). This enabled more members to be recruited and the club went from strength to strength. It was during the time at UCS that one of the club's archers was selected to shoot in the 1976 Olympics; which was quite a boost for the club and a great honour for the archer himself.
Greenwood Bowmen circa 1970
In January 1978 the club relocated from UCS and went to shoot on the United Biscuits (UB) ground, Osterley. This was arranged by one of the club members who worked for the company. At this stage the club name was changed to UB Greenwood Bowmen. A successful period of shooting was enjoyed at this location but eventually, because the ground was being sold, another move was required.
In September 1985 an approach was made to Osterley Bowmen who were shooting on a ground called the Conquest Club (formerly the Pyrene Sports Club ground), which was just across the road from the UB ground. The two clubs agreed to amalgamate forming a new combined club to be called Greenwood Osterley Archers. The joining of the two clubs went very smoothly and it was felt that both clubs benefited from the move.
Minimax Archery Club was founded in May 1958 as a closed works club, with half a dozen employee members under the watchful eye and guidance of one "Bill" Bailey, an established archer with Bestobel Bowmen in Slough. The new club was fortunate in having the use of a small, underused sports ground attached to the works in Staines Road, Feltham where, eventually it was possible to shoot 100 yards in comparative safety.
The ground boasted a tennis court, a part time cricket team and a corrugated iron pavilion complete with bar, balcony, two changing rooms and no loo's, the procedure being Ladies used the bucket in an old lean-to shed to the left, Gentlemen the bushes to the right, this seemed to work very well the bucket being religiously emptied every Monday morning by a cleaner employed in the works who rejoiced in the name of "Tom the Bog".
With a grant from the company of £ 25.1.3, no doubt assisted by having both the Company Secretary and the Works Manager as club members, five wooden training bows of differing weights, and four sets of arrows were obtained and training got under way. By this time membership had trebled, with more Company personnel taking an interest plus the inclusion of wives and husbands of existing members. Fairly quickly some quite proficient archers emerged and serious thoughts were turned towards purchasing personal equipment, by no means an easy choice, most members having little cash to spare. Did one go straight on to the tubular steel bow and aluminum arrows or continue through the wooden flat bow stage?
Several married couples opted for one wooden bow and two sets of arrows of 'his' and 'hers' lengths between them and an assortment of sight marks to choose from. The obvious problem that did arise from this arrangement occurred when both partners entered a shoot, when it was necessary to ensure that they were close together on the shooting line in order that 'the bow' could be passed to one another every three arrows - but it worked!
To assist members purchasing their own equipment a deposit scheme was started whereby members deposited a fixed amount per week (most then were paid weekly) with the club secretary who would then place an order, to the members specification, with Lillywhites, the leading supplier at the time, and thereby benefit from the 10% reduction they gave on all club purchases. Alternatively it was possible to make personal visits to Lillywhites, in Piccadilly Circus, and providing the bill was settled by the club still benefit from the discount."
In April 1959 at the financial year end, the club account showed a healthy surplus of £ 6.2.1.
At this time Middlesex had over twenty-five affiliated clubs, many of them at a similar stage of development as Minimax, so that arranging inter-club matches was not so difficult. Also, most established clubs were very willing, and keen, to host and help those not so well established. In this way the learning curves of shooting and, of equal importance, club administration, advanced rapidly.
By 1961 the club had become 'open' with some thirty members most of whom shot at least once a week either an evening or Sunday, the field being available at practically all times. The Middlesex Western Leagues had been well established for several years and these were entered with enthusiasm but being a numerically larger club than most in the County it was necessary to place restrictions on the numbers visiting other clubs for fear of swamping their facilities. This situation was alleviated to some extent when a number of the better shots decided they preferred the competition of bigger, open events and began travelling the County attending them. In effect this meant a club with two divisions but as all shot and drank in the bar on weekday evenings it managed to remain 'one club'. It was around this time that the Minimax Club Ladies created a name for themselves with the quality and standard of the teas they laid on for visiting teams, many of who said they only came for the food.
Shooting was not as regulated by Rules and Regulations then and different distances were usually shot off one line with arrows being collected while shooting continued on adjacent targets, as a sop to safety, lane widths were widened slightly and although there were near misses no accidents occurred with this practice. There were also many occasions where a round had not been completed by nightfall, the simple solution to this was to line up a number of cars behind the shooting line with their headlights on, allowing shooting to continue - one or two flat batteries resulted but these were readily overcome with jump leads.
The perimeter fence around the field was 8 feet high corrugated iron sheets with the exception of one area where the owners of some newly built flats had, with permission, removed the corrugated iron and replaced it with chain link, this chain link, naturally, had to be directly behind the 100 yards, overshoot which at the most was only 15 yards, and the young mother who lived in one of the flats would insist on putting the pram containing her baby up against the wire to the consternation of all the archers. Her response to the pleas to put the baby elsewhere met with the reply that she would put the net, used to keep cats out of the pram, over the baby! The problem was solved in rather a drastic manner when a member, quite deliberately, put an arrow into the front door of the flat and then went round and asked if he could have his arrow back - please. The baby and pram did not re-appear!!
There was an absolute minimum of dialogue with GNAS, members reluctantly paid their subscription, then about £ 3.0.0. a year, and that was the limit of their interest. SCAS and Middlesex on the other hand were strongly supported, their annual subscription was 2s 6d a year, and all general meetings were well attended.
On one memorable occasion at a Middlesex Annual General Meeting no nominations had been received for the various officers and committee members and the County Chairman was pleading for names when the club secretary, without any warning or consultation, stood up and announced that Minimax would fill all the vacancies. For many years thereafter the club played a major part in the County administration. The names of the people who were to fill the vacancies were sorted out in the bar later."
By 1968 the rather dilapidated pavilion had received a great deal of attention from club members and other interested parties and had been transformed into a reasonably comfortable large single room with bar, but still no loo's, and a Grand Opening was held in May to which all clubs were invited. This resulted in nearly one hundred people squeezing in, the bar running out of glasses and the floor collapsing. However this happening in no way dampened the spirits of those attending a truly memorable occasion.
In 1969 Meadhurst, Laleham and Minimax introduced to a totally unsuspecting archery world the Concord Round, 25 arrows, 5 per end at 33,44, 66 and 77 metres shot shortest distance first. Although it continued to be shot by the three founders for 7 or 8 years it never really caught on with the serious archer!! The Concord Trophy, of a broken Polar Bear Bow on a stand, exists to this day and the Concord tournament was revived in 2006 being held at Laleham's ground with National Rounds being shot. Teams from Laleham, Spelthorne (formerly Meadhurst) and GOA (formerly Minimax) took part. Winners of the first reinaugural shoot were Greenwood Osterley Archers.
Talks had commenced with the Pyrene Sports Club at Osterley regarding the possible use of their ground, it had the advantages of plenty of space, better facilities and faced in the right direction and 1971 saw the club running the first Middlesex Spring Bank Holiday week-end shoot there, possibly the first two day event of it's kind in the Country. It was an instant success.
Due to Pressures being put upon the Staines Road ground by extensions and developments of the Works, the club was "invited" to use the Pyrene Ground and in July 1973 moved to Osterley complete with equipment store. They were made very welcome and integration was achieved with a minimum of fuss and bother.
Two years later in 1975, Minimax was "requested" by the Club Management to change their name from Minimax as it had come to the attention of the Directors of the Pyrene Company that they were subsidising a club sporting the name of one of their major competitors, completely disregarding the fact that they were both part of the same group. Resistance to the "request" was unanimous and many hours were spent arguing and debating the issue, several members were in favour of moving but slowly common sense prevailed and a competition was held to decide a new name and new badge. "Osterley Bowmen" was a clear winner for the name but the badge was a challenge, Osterley does not appear to have a single significant item it can claim as it's own, to be incorporated in a badge until a member, visiting Osterley House, noticed that eagles seemed to play a significant part in the decorations, this was seized upon with a vengeance as the centrepiece for the new club badge.
Numbers then started to fall off for no apparent reason until 1985 when, following an approach from Greenwood Archers, who had plenty of members but were about to lose their ground, a mutually acceptable merger of the two clubs took place.
Greenwood Osterley Archers
Greenwood Osterley Archers was formed in 1985 by the merger of UB Greenwood Bowmen and Osterley Bowmen using the Conquest (sports and social) Club ground at Wood Lane, Isleworth (formerly the Pyrene Sports Ground).
The club ended up having two wooden equipment huts, one actually being used for equipment and the other attempting 3 star hotel status with sofas, cooking facilities and a fridge. The arrangement with the Conquest Club was financially amenable as only membership of the social club was required with use of the ground at any time being a free amenity. If one removed the GNAS, SCAS and County affiliations from the annual club subscription the princely sum of around £ 0.50 remained. The club was financially supported essentially from the sale of teas and sandwiches sold at various open tournaments.
The only problems experienced were occasional conflicts with footballers wanting to use the ground at the same time and the lack of security at the site. During the clubs stay on the ground there were a number of break ins with bows and arrows and money being stolen. Equipment was sometimes retrieved from the various ditches around the ground. The worst thing to happen was the burning of the (former UB Bowmen) hut completely and considerable damage to the other hut in an arson attack in 1999. The damaged hut was repaired and a metal container purchased as a secure and hopefully fireproof equipment store. Apart from the clearing up process the fire had minimal impact on club activities, considerably assisted by financial help from Middlesex County, local clubs and individual archers.
In 2002 the club learn't that the ground was to be sold. Because of considerable uncertainty about whether the club would still be able to use the ground other possible venues were investigated and in the same year the club moved a few hundred meters to the Grasshoppers Rugby Club ground. This involved moving two steel containers, the club container and the Middlesex County equipment container. The Grasshopper's ground on McFarlane lane co-exists with the Centaurs Rugby ground so for the the former Greenwood Bowmen it was returning almost to their former ground. Since the move club facilities have expanded to include an equipment hut (formerly a golf hut) and a portakabin.
The facilities at Grasshoppers are a significant improvement on the previous ground with a modern club building including a bar, restaurant and gym (though no club members have yet been seen 'pumping iron'). This has been beneficial to both club members and in holding open tournaments.
Being located on a commercial ground, where for the first time for many years a rental had to be paid for ground usage, resulted in a steep increase in club subscription fees, largely offset by a rapid growth in club membership since the relocation. For possibly the first time in it's history the club has a waiting list for membership.
In 2019, Greenwood Osterley Archers made a short move across the road to Goals Soccer Centre.
The club as it now stands has achieved many notable successes with individuals winning places at some top tournaments throughout the country, including our own Middlesex County Championships.