So last Monday, around about dinnertime when the teams are usually released for Thursday and Saturday pennants, I fully expected to once again be featuring in 5th Division playing at Willetton, because I had no reason to assume otherwise, given the last two games I’d played in 5th Divvy had been pretty resounding defeats against Kardinya and Mt Pleasant, which I would state was down to the opposition completely outplaying us, and not us bowling below our collective best.
Sure enough, when the selectors were done with their great debate, I was set to play in 5th Division as per usual, although it appears a few blokes in the higher divisions called in during Tuesday and let someone know they’d be unavailable, or they rostered themselves off for the week, while my usual skip Fred had suffered a family tragedy, which meant the selectors suddenly had 36 hours to find a few numbers to fill the void in the higher divisions.
As it turns out, one of the 4th Divvy teams needed a lead, so late on Tuesday evening while double checking the teams, I thought I was drunk when I found out that one of those lucky numbers was me:
Yes, so just a few days after I filled in for the Women’s 4th Division at Bull Creek, apparently I was now good enough to fill in for my first game in Men’s Thursday 4th Division, and it was all the way out at Lack Of Safety Bay, who were sitting on top of Divvy 4 Red with just 2 defeats all season (One of them being against Manning at Manning), and I’d be playing alongside the wise old Peter Hudson (No relation to the Hawthorn superboot), who has forgotten more about bowls than everyone at the club will ever know, mollydooker Ric Moroney, who is most definitely not Frederic, and Bob ‘The Builder’ Antonides, with his rocket for a bowling arm, as I saw in the Two Bowl Singles back in September.
Funnily enough, would you like to know who their original lead was going to be?
None other than Half Price, who got called back up to 3rd Division.
This promotion also meant I would be experiencing the joys of a Manning Eagles bus ride for the first time, and fortunately for me, the Thursday Premier League team were also playing at Safety Bay, so rest assured that in addition to a full esky, that former school bus with dodgy air conditioning would be filled with a greater assortment of characters than Jim Henson’s workshop.
There was Blake and Dave, the two WA State Singles champions stuffed in the back seats (One of them having KFC for lunch), both sitting behind Nigel the Welshman, Andy the Englishman, Ted the Selector, James ‘Fat Jack’ Jackson, once described by Half Price as the greatest South African since Mandela, Smiley, Denis ‘The Menace’ Murray, club captain Floppy Herbert, ‘Joey’ the 92-year-old Italian, Burkey and AJ did the driving, and I had a former Australian Test Cricketer sitting to my left, most likely stewing away at the Justin Langer saga.
As I wrote, Jim Henson’s workshop, right there.
So after a 45 minute ride down the freeway listening to Fat Jack’s crap about Nigel being Scottish, we got to the Safety Bay bowlo on Mersey Road, and if there was one advantage to travelling that far south, it’s that we were well and truly dodging the worst of the heat on a 38 degree day in Perth, thanks to a northerly breeze that was coming in off Safety Bay itself that knocked the temps right down to the low 30s, which also meant we’d be bowling with a tailwind on every even-numbered end, so there were bound to be plenty of bowls flying into the ditch.
Having never played at Safety Bay, I was preparing under the assumption that we’d be playing on a Grass green, but as it turned out, all of Safety Bay’s greens are Synthetic, and having played on Synthetics on Tuesday and Wednesday, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
Case in point, I got 2 bowls in the head on the 1st End, which ended with us holding 2 shots, and subsequently our makeshift foursome (up against Brian, James, John Mac and John Biglin) never trailed at any stage during the afternoon, which I put down to our ‘defensive’ bowling performance, because up until the 20th end of the game, all of The Bay’s holds were exactly 1 shot, caused by us getting a couple of shots in the head to keep the pressure on, and other times they went looking for a wick that was never there.
Another big one was that Safety Bay seemingly made a tactical mistake during the first 10 ends, because the Baysiders were setting short ends bowling into the wind, and when they got the mat after the 7th end, their lead Brian brought the mat forward and tried setting a short end bowling with the tailwind, which naturally didn’t work because the jack carried on and it was a long end.
We would go on to hold 3 on the 8th end, then they got the mat back after the 9th End and did it again.
We held 3 again.
So just like that, it was 13-4 after 10 ends, and with yours truly bowling so consistently that Brian was getting frustrated, Ric killing a couple of heads, and Bob The Builder and Peter using their mechano-arms to full effect, the lead would peak at 18-7 after the 17th end, which itself was nothing short of hilarious, as it featured 5 touchers in the first 6 bowls.
To start off, my first bowl got caught in the wind and landed nowhere, then Brian took the jack across, but my adjusted second bowl got a wick and touched the jack, Brian hit the jack again and took it back on to my bowl, then Peter came along and outdid us all by taking the jack back perilously close to Brian’s original toucher, and completing this series of wild events, Peter’s opposing second James came along and created some kind of a 3-way tie for the hold….
We were going to call the umpire to help sort it out, but both sides eventually saw that Peter got the hold by the classic Maxwell Smart measurement:
Now, when it came to the aggregate across the 3 rinks, it was line-ball going down to the final 4 ends, because while our rink was up 18-7, Safety Bay was up 23-12 on the middle rink against Burkey’s rink, but Fat Jack and Smiley’s rink were up 16-10, giving us the overall lead 46-40.
I was told by Ric on the bus ride down that one guarantee of playing with Bob and Peter is that they’re always the last rink to finish, which is only a disadvantage if you’re keen to have a beer, but it worked out to be a solid advantage, because being 3 ends slower than everyone else meant we knew exactly what the aggregate was, with the Fat Jack/Smiley rink winning 17-15 after a huge scare, but crucially, Burkey’s rink scored a couple of late shots to make the final score 18-24 the way of Safety Bay, meaning we had a 6 shot cushion to play with, despite leading 18-8.
On the 19th End, Safety Bay held 1 as Bob cut them back, bringing the aggregate to 53-48.
On the 20th End, John Mac got his 2 shots ahead of mine to cut the aggregate down to 3, while we were safely going to get the point for winning the rink, as we led 18-11 with 8 bowls to come.
So with 3 shots the difference on the final end, I thought I ended the day on a good note when I got both my bowls within a foot of the jack to take the pressure off my teammates, but along came James, who nudged out both my bowls and held 2 himself:
James had put Safety Bay in position to tie the aggregate, but John Mac couldn’t quite put us down 3, leaving the match on the bowling arms of Bob The Builder and Mr Biglin.
Bob managed to get his first bowl into 3rd shot about a foot short of the jack, which seemingly put enough pressure on John to ensure he couldn’t get his final bowl close enough to get that third shot, and despite the fact that Bob could quite easily have had a crack at taking the hold with his second bowl, Ric pointed out that we had the aggregate by a shot, so he put the bowl down, and that was game set and match, as we won the rink 18-13, and the mighty Manning Eagles knocked off the ladder leaders 53-52 on the road.
A big result, because with the Gosnells teams having a derby that didn’t quite work out for Gosnells 1, the Manning 4th Divvy team are back within a game of 2nd place:
I didn’t actually realise this at the time, but John Biglin is ranked 2nd on the 4 Red player ladder, Brian is currently the top ranked Lead in 3rd overall, and John Mac is ranked 7th, which isn’t to call us slouches by comparison, because Bob and Peter are both inside the Top 10:
I like to do a count to see if I’m holding shot after the leads have bowled, and I counted that I was up 16-5 overall, so you can say I wasn’t on the same rink as the highest ranked lead…. the highest ranked lead was on the same rink as ME.
To cap off a great day out, Manning won the Premier League contest on the adjacent rink 58-53 with 5 points to 1, taking their 11th consecutive win to stay a game and a half clear on top, and to complete the hat-trick, Manning played Safety Bay in Division 1 Blue at Manning and defeated them 57-51, so needless to say, with Burkey doing the driving, the esky was full when we left Safety Bay, and it was near bloody empty when we got back to Manning Memorial.
VENI, VIDI, VICI
Categories: Lawn Bowls