1953-55 Council Member
1955-65 Vice President (first representing USA then Scotland)
1962-69 Chairman of Council
1970-96 Honorary Life Vice President
Scottish Badminton Union Career
1947 Committee Member
1958-60 Vice President
David Bloomer was a man ahead of his time. A canny, articulate and shrewd businessman. He was someone willing to take risks, being the original badminton sports promoter and was instrumental in propelling the game to the level it enjoys today. But after all, he was an insurance broker and knew all about risk taking!
He first got the badminton bug at the age of nine but in those early days football was his priority. Even so, he played his badminton at the Stephen’s Recreation BC and the Glasgow Civil Service BC before managing an occasional appearance for Glasgow Seconds.
Then the Second World War intervened and, according to The Badminton Gazette, he joined the Merchant Navy and spent “five grim years at sea as a wireless operator with the odd game at ports like New York where the game was still possible.”
With the War over he was invited to join the committee of the Scottish Badminton Union (now BADMINTONscotand) and this was to be his launch pad.
As a player has was a solid men’s doubles performer good enough to win eight caps for Scotland between 1947-51, making his debut against England. He played in the early matches of the first Thomas Cup against England at Leicester in 1949.
But he first made his mark as a promoter with his handling of the USA v Malaya (now Malaysia) Thomas Cup semi-final tie at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall with Malaya winning 6-3 in a two-day contest which attracted large crowds.
Bloomer had organised what was acknowledged at the time as the finest badminton contest to have been played, so much so that the Americans invited him to be their representative on the IBF Council, a role he fulfilled until subsequently becoming the Scotland representative.
As Sir Craig Reedie (IBF President 1981-84) recalled: “Bloomer was asked to help by John McCarry and he took a considerable risk by renting Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall for the contest. The Hall had a 3,000 capacity and he filled it.”
The attendance was helped by the fact that the fans had the chance to see two of the greats of the day in Wong Peng Soon and David Freeman. “The Scots had never seen anything like it,” said Sir Craig. “This was the forerunner to Bloomer’s World Invitation Tournaments and marked the start of players travelling the world to compete.”
The World Invitation was to run successfully for 15 years at the Kelvin Hall and Bloomer thereby laid the foundations for Scotland’s enduring reputation and ability to stage world-class badminton.
As Sir Craig explained: “He brought players over to compete. He paid their expenses to bring players from Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan to play in exhibition matches.”
McCarry, his colleague in the Thomas Cup venture and in two other sell-outs at the Kelvin Hall in 1950 and 51 when Denmark played Invitation teams, claimed he did 0.1 per cent of the work compared to Bloomer’s contribution and freely admitted that “even then this claim might be a little ambitious.”
Bloomer’s promotional skills not only brought badminton to the Scottish public and created their enduring reputation for staging world-class events but also signalled the start of the Kelvin Hall’s international sporting reputation right up 2013 before passing the baton to the new Emirates Arena next door to Celtic’s football stadium.
The new arena hosted badminton at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and is now preparing for the 2017 BWF World Indiividual Championships.
During Bloomer’s period as Chairman of Council the challenge to the wood shot rule (it was a fault if the shuttle hit the wooden frame) resurfaced with five persistent annual challenges. The rule, where hitting the frame was a fault, had been adopted at the second annual attempt in 1949.
There were several subsequent attempts to overturn the rule until a fifth successive annual proposal in 1963 – and the fourth in a row by Malaya – finally won the day by gaining the required two-thirds majority by the narrowest possible margin of 60 votes to 30.
Bloomer’s experience as an international administrator made him the leading official of his day and led to him becoming a member of the newly-created Scottish Sports Council in 1972 and subsequently chairman of its Sports Development Committee.
Sir Craig Reedie understandably has great admiration for Bloomer. After all, he was his boss as well as his mentor. Sir Craig reflected: “He came up the hard way and was a self-made man.”
Indeed, Bloomer was born in the same tough Govan shipyard area of Glasgow as Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United fame.
Sir Craig added: “He was an independent, self-employed financial advisor. He was also a wonderful speaker and had a great tongue.”
He had established his own insurance brokerage in Glasgow in 1938 and it still thrives today.
In debates he was a formidable opponent with a quick wit and a great gift of language, an excellent raconteur and a fine after-dinner speaker.
He lost none of his wit in later life, with evenings at his homes in Wemyss Bay and Pollokshields attracting and entertaining badminton friends from all over the world.
Scottish Badminton Union – Celebrating 100 Years 1911-2011 by Leon Douglas
-- By William Kings