Sydney Rams Ten Pin Bowling League is on intimate terms with change.

Forced relocations, the inclusion of women and a leap forward in public acceptance colour the history of a club that began life as an all-male outfit in 1984.

But it is a single constant that explains the longevity of Sydney Rams, which now ranks among the community’s oldest sporting groups and is marking its 21st year this weekend, president Andy Lamb said.

I think the social side of it has helped it keep there, Lamb said.

You can meet people on a regular basis and get friends without the pressure of the bar scene or anything like that. I think founding president Geoff Perkins just wanted to get a group together where people could relax and be themselves, without having to worry about getting excited and hugging the wrong person.

Conjecture about the League’s exact beginnings remains: Rams members met for the first time socially in early 1984, but began competing in Leichhardt later that year.

The origin of the Sydney Rams name is also unclear: Lamb guessed the label reflected the club’s all-male beginnings.

After Leichhardt bowling alley closed in 1989, the League moved to a now defunct bowling club in Rushcutters Bay, before arriving at its present home at Manhattan Super Bowl in Mascot 11 years ago.

About 70 players take to the Manhattan alleys each Monday. Sydney Rams signed up its first female member in the late 1980s, and women now account for about 20 percent of players.

Growing openness about a gay and lesbian sporting group has been the club’s other main change.

It comes down to general acceptance, Lamb said. Probably when it started 21 years ago, it was word-of-mouth, rather than putting a person’s name and phone number in the paper.

A club highlight was organising a ten pin bowling competition at the 2002 Gay Games in Sydney that attracted players from across the globe.

But when Sydney Rams players past and present celebrate the club’s milestone at a get-together at the Newtown Hotel on Saturday night, chances are it is the social achievements they will recall most fondly.

Keeping the politics out of it sometimes can be difficult, Lamb said. Just keeping it social is always a difficult thing but I think it’s something we certainly manage to do.

Sydney Rams Ten Pin Bowling League celebrates its 21st year at the Newtown Hotel on Saturday 17 September from 8pm-midnight. For more information about the club call Andy Lamb on 8399 0823.

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