The clang of a ringer is about to become a thing of the past for the Cochrane Horseshoe Club.
Last weekend, the Cochrane Horseshoe Club hosted its last sanctioned tournament and after over 30 years are calling it quits.
Henry Veldhuis, one of the founding members, says they simply haven't got enough players to continue. Many of the club's mainstays are getting too old, he says, including himself.
"Now we're at the point where we don't have the membership to keep it going," says Veldhuis "We have no organized league. Up until last year we had a proper league and kept records. That all finished last year."
The size of the membership has varied over the years and reached 30 at one point but has recently dropped off drastically.
"The last few years we've been dwindling down. Last year we had five paid members, but only three players," he says. "We're all just getting too old for this."
Veldhuis has been active locally as well as with the Alberta Horseshoe Pitchers Association (AHPA). He's been Alberta president twice and kept the provincial stats for 10 years. He's sad to see it go but efforts to recruit new members haven't been successful.
"I've been involved all along, but now I'm retired. I'm 82, I can't play anymore, I haven't played for two years."
Neither can his wife Yvonne.
The couple's daughter Jane Cordingley, of Airdrie, though, remains one of Alberta's best horseshoe pitchers. On July 1 she reclaimed her women's championship title and came third in the mixed 'A' class. A shoulder injury kept her out of the competition last season, preventing her from bidding for her tenth straight title. In all, she has 13 Alberta championships and two Canadian championships, where she's also been runner-up multiple times.
In late August, Cordingley is off to the nationals being hosted by Whitewood, SK.
While he's enjoyed being involved with the club, Walter Wiggins, 83, says its time to call it a day. He's volunteered to maintain the pitches for about the last 15 years.
Still, the 16 people in last weekend's final tournament had a blast and many have been coming here for years. One player regularly travels from High Prairie while the majority are from Cochrane, Calgary and Olds.
Veldhuis founded the club with Arnie Hansen in 1987. With the Cochrane Lions, Cochrane Legion and town contributing $500 each, plus a little extra help from Public Works, they built eight pitches that remain in great shape to this day on the west side of the Lions Rodeo Park.
Veldhuis enjoys telling how Cochrane Mayor Lydia Graham gave them a shed they could borrow for storage and a concession. Veldhuis recalls how she said the town wasn't giving it to them and they may need it back some day. They never did and it remains there to this day.