Many of the customs of the 'Old Green' may have disappeared with the years, but there is one that has been faithfully observed annually since it was inaugurated on 1st August 1776. This is the Knighthood Competition, and it is unique in the bowling world. It was inspired by one Mr. Miller, who had the three-fold distinction of being 82 years of age, the Father and Master of the Green. For over 200 years the game has been played under conditions as nearly identical as possible with those first laid down. Now, of course, it is a quaint and exceedingly picturesque combination of ancient and modern. Tradition compels the Knights of the Green who supervise the tournament to appear in ceremonial attire of Top Hats, Frock Coats and the medal of their rank suspended on the chest. A Knight is entitled to be addressed as 'sir' on the Green, and he may return after any period of absence from the town to enjoy the privileges of Membership. One responsibility which falls on the Knights is, in the absence of the Master and Vice Master, the Senior Knight present (being a full member) assumes their duties.
The medal, which is the insignia of office, is of silver. Every medal awarded has borne the inscription, "Win it and Wear it", while upon the reverse side of many medals some incident of national importance which has happened in the preceding year was recorded. A collection of medals won by past Knights have been handed back to the Club by friends and relatives and is one of the most treasured possessions of the Club. The earliest medal belonging to the Club is dated 1784
Conditions of Play
The tournament is governed by the Knight's. They determine both the length and position of the jack, and many a good bowler has been confounded by having to bowl across the Green at an unaccustomed angle. Each competitor bowls two woods. Each bowl is measured and removed, and at the conclusion of the end the Knights award a point to the player who bowls the nearest wood. He who first obtains seven points wins the Knighthood. On the Green and beneath the jack is placed a penny, so that if the jack is displaced the coin remains to mark the position. The wood which displaces the jack and rests on the coin is called a 'Lodger' a phrase which is not heard anywhere else in the bowling world. The rules of the tournament are strictly enforced and no competitor is allowed to approach the jack while the end is being played. The tournament. The tournament is rarely completed in under three days and has been know to take mote than eight days to complete if interrupted by the weather. The new Knight is welcomed into the Knighthood during the Installation Ceramony.
Previous Winners of the Knighthood include former Southampton Football Club Player Tom Nicol who started his Bowling Career following his retirement from the Football Pitch, Tom won the Knighthood in 1907 and was the 133rd Winner of the Competition.