Unlike West Coast’s 109 point defeat on Friday night, the recent run of dodgy Perth weather was a distant memory in time for the 15th annual Bowls WA Community Shield, hosted by the Hilton Park Bowling Club for the second year running, with 27 teams (One team withdrew due to COVID) taking part from all twelve corners of WA for a great day of drinking and bowling in the warmth of a 23 degree Saturday in autumn, with every team seeking to win the $400 grand prize, and the coveted Corporate Shield:
As it was in 2021, there were 3 Manning teams in the draw from the club’s Jack Attack program:
– Our recent champions the Great Bowls of Fire returned to Hilton Park with the lineup of Todd, Chris, Bruce (Who missed 2021) and Rede, and their big new addition since Jack Attack ended is their superb set of sponsored shirts thanks to Jason Haines at AutoMasters Northbridge, although Todd didn’t get the WhatsApp message about wearing matching shorts:
– Fresh off their heartbreaking Grand Final defeat to the Great Bowls, Manning Up earned a trip to Hilton Park, and making the journey with their Manager hats on were John, Brent, Phil and Trav, and unlike most Jack Attack nights, Manning Up didn’t have their endless depth on hand, with Simon and Mark both unavailable for unimportant reasons:
– The third and final Manning representatives were Team 180, representing the Manning Bowling Club Darts team, featuring Mick, Peg, Sally and Ronni, who were appropriately wearing their Manning Darts shirts as a matching team uniform:
The original plan was to invite the 4th placed Top Shots as Manning’s third team, but unfortunately Gerry had surgery this week, ruling himself and Irene out, and Gordon & Leslie couldn’t make it, so our trusty Jack Attack commissioner Richard ‘Half’ Price kept the darts theme going and asked Mick, Peg and Ronni to help out Sally, thus it turned into a proper Manning Darts team, and luckily they were able to loan out a couple of pairs of Manning’s Aero ‘cheats’ bowls to use on the day.
As for the format, unlike Jack Attack, which is Triples, the Community Shield is a Fours tournament with 4 games (1 hour and 15 minutes each) to decide the winner, making it a ‘rigorous’ test of endurance and bowling ability, with all teams blindly picked from 27 sets of fixtures (4 teams got a bye/automatic win due to the uneven number), and it was down to total luck if you got the draw of death and played the Quinns Rocks teams, or the proverbial cakewalk through the teams that just came to drink grog by the kegful.
Finally, with the rain during the week and a cool morning bringing up the dew on the grass, the greens were understandably slow to begin the day (Todd described them as moist), and another major change from last year’s Community Shield was that B and C Greens were switched to run East-West (Bowling into and with the breeze), which was a change at Manning where we typically bowl North-South, although the A Green was still North-South, just to try and throw people off.
But hey, at least the lines were painted straight this year, isn’t that right Todd?
Round 1: Manning Up hold the flag high, narrow losses for Great Bowls and Team 180
Play got underway at 9:30 sharp, and in the first game Team 180 played Jack Hi from North Perth on B Green, Manning Up were on C Green playing Good Times (A team of friends from Vic Park & Thornlie), and the Great Bowls of Fire were up against the Bad Guys from the Swan Valley on the notorious A Green, which would turn out to be the only game any Manning team played on A Green.
Starting with the good news, Manning Up got their day underway with a comfortable 10-3 win, fuelled by the power of Victoria Bitter, in what was the type of all-round consistent team performance that the former Tie Break Turkeys delivered week after week throughout the recent Manning Jack Attack tournament, and crucially they got their line-up settled early, with Phil leading, Brent second, Trav third, and John as the skip:
On A Green, the Great Bowls were slow to get away on the slow surface as they trailed the Bad Guys 6-0 after 4 ends, and 8-1 after 6 ends, and unfortunately it was a lead they never quite pegged back, although Todd, Bruce, Chris and Rede did have a couple of highlights, including picking up a 4 on the 7th end, then they finished the game with holds of 2 and 3 on the final two ends to cut the score back to a high scoring 10-12 after 11 ends, so you could argue the bell came too early for the Great Bowls, who were playing the rest of the day off the back foot.
One thing that was noticeable during the game was that one of the Bad Guys players had a pair of Ukrainian coloured bowls:
It makes you think, a team called the Bad Guys with a pair of Ukrainian coloured bowls… to quote Alanis Morrissette, isn’t it ironic.
Finally, Team 180’s day started with a 5-9 defeat against Jack Hi, in a game that featured more 1s than a binary code chain, and it would turn out to be the closest that Team 180 came to winning a game, as the bell rang on the final end with Jack Hi leading 6-5, right as Sally put two bowls within a metre of the jack (Which was just shy of the T) to put Team 180 in a position to win the game with half an end to play…
But Jack Hi’s second hit both bowls both out and sent the North Perth team from 2 down to 2 up, they would tack on another shot before the last bowl, and unfortunately Ronni and Peg (Who played as the skip in Game 1) couldn’t swing it back Manning’s way, and thus the final score was 9-5 after 10 ends.
Round 2: So Don’t Be Sad, ‘Cause 2 Outta 3 Ain’t Bad
Moving on quickly to Game 2, all of the Manning teams found themselves playing on C Green, with Manning Up down on Rink 5 against Skare from the Adriatic heartland of Stirling, the Great Bowls of Fire played a local Hilton Park social team called Camilla Parker Bowls (What a name) on Rink 4, and Team 180 played the Goats from Quinns Rock on Rink 1, who wound up featuring very prominently in the final standings, even though they appeared closer to Gooses than Goats.
Starting with the good, Manning Up made it 2 wins from 2 games as they defeated Skare 8-7 in 9 ends, in what was a very tense game, with Manning Up’s holds of 2 and 3 in the 5th and 6th ends making the difference, as Skare needed to hold 2 on the final end to pinch a draw, but they fluffed it and only held 1, so Manning Up went into the lunch break 2/2 and in with a shot at a Top 5 finish.
Next door, the Great Bowls got themselves on the board with a 9-4 win against Camilla Parker Bowls in 12 ends, and it was a commanding performance throughout the entire 75 minutes from the Manning champions, with the Great Bowls never trailing at any stage in the game (The only time it was level was the roll-up), and the CPB’s biggest hold was 1 shot.
It was good to see the Great Bowls were now justifying their semi-professional team shirts.
Finally, on Rink 1, Team 180 were no match for the Goats, losing 7-19 in 9 ends, and it was a grisly opening 5 ends, as the Goats began the game with a 3, then they picked up a 4 on the 4th End, and they followed that up with a 7 on the 5th End, being one of only 2 teams to pick up a 7 on the day (I think the Bad Guys were the other team), moving the score on to an unbeatable 15-1.
I wonder if Bowls WA would give out 8 Badges for the Community Shield like they do in club events & pennant matches…
Still, Team 180 did land a few bullseyes in the final 4 ends to get off that lonely 1, and it should be noted that the game was played in great spirit and merriment, as Mick and Scotty, who appeared to be the younger brother of Santa Claus, got on like a house on fire.
So to paraphrase Murray Walker, with half the day gone there was still half the day to go, and on that note it was time for the lunch break, which gave the Manning teams a chance to debrief and figure out what they were doing wrong and what they were doing right, which was pretty easy to figure out if you were Team 180…
A lot, and not much.
Round 3: The Manning Jack Attack Grand Final Rematch
Right as Fremantle started piling the scoreboard pressure on Geelong at Kardinia Park, it was time to head back out for the second half of the afternoon, and the only major personnel change was that Ronni had to leave at lunch for a family commitment, so yours truly was required to play for Team 180 in the final 2 games, but as per the rules, as a pennant player I had to play as the lead, which was alright because that was where I’d played all season.
So in Round 3, Team 180 got another game on C Green against the Kitty Kissers, who were the recent Joondalup social bowls champions with shirts to prove it, while the Great Bowls of Fire and Manning Up were both out on Rink 2 of B Green, where they realised the hilarious reality….
IT WAS A MANNING JACK ATTACK GRAND FINAL REMATCH IN THE COMMUNITY SHIELD!
Fancy that, we drove 20 minutes to Hilton Park to get the two best Manning social teams playing each other…
It’s on a par with Argentina and Brazil playing each other in the World Cup group stages.
When I told Half Price (Who couldn’t make it to Hilton) via text that we’d be getting a Grand Final rematch, his reply was that Great Bowls should “Do the Manning thing” and essentially get Manning Up over the line to get them to 3-0 and have a shot at the Top 4, but anyone who knows Todd would know he wouldn’t tank a game unless he was offered a lifetime supply of Swan Draught…
And even then, you’d have to throw in a lifetime supply of Jim Beam.
So as you’d expect, the game was a grudge match with more swings than John Daly at a driving range, with Manning Up holding 3 on the second end, which was followed by the Great Bowls hitting them straight back with 2, which was followed by 4 straight ends of 1 shot, setting up an ending we could scarcely believe.
With the scores at 5 apiece after 7 ends, the Great Bowls appeared to have landed the decisive knockout punch when they held 4 shots to go 9-5 ahead, and the bell went right as the 9th and final end began…
BUT, in a scene too good to be true, Manning Up put a heap of shots behind the jack, the Great Bowls didn’t cover them off as they tried adding a few more shots on to their for/against, and when it came down to the final skips duel of Todd vs John, the Manning Up skip had to go the last desperate drive, and in what may have been the bowl of the day from anyone at Hilton Park, not only did John kill the head, he dragged the jack out the back, all the back bowls came into play, AND MANNING UP HELD 5 TO WIN 10-9!
So thanks to one of the great revenge acts in community sports, Manning Up had kept their shot at an unbeaten day alive and extracted a pound of flesh from the Great Bowls of Fire, and that final end would have a massive impact on the Top 10.
Meantime, Team 180’s afternoon didn’t get any better against a team that had lost 25-0 (To one of the Quinns Rock teams) in their previous game, with the Kitty Kissers winning 14-3 over 9 ends, and I felt like Team 180 did well just to hold 3 shots, because despite myself, Mick, Peg and Sally bowling alright, the Kitty Kissers were kissing the kitty that much we should’ve put a restraining order on them.
So that was Round 3, and the merciful end of the day was fast approaching, but all of our collective Manning energy was on trying to get Manning Up to become the first Manning team to ever complete a perfect 4/4 at the Community Shield.
Round 4: Manning Up’s perfect day ends up in the ditch, the Great Bowls finish with a bang, the less I write about Team 180, the better
The clock got close to 2:30 and it was time for the fourth and final game(s) of the afternoon, and Team 180 played the Victoria Park-Carlisle social bowls champions the DD’s on Rink 5 of Green C, while on Rink 4 of Green B, the Great Bowls of Fire played wooden spoon contenders Balls and Chain from parts unknown, and seeking perfection, Manning Up were next door on Rink 5 against the Bats from Woop Woop, and it was a bit strange seeing the Bats up and about during the day time, given they are nocturnal creatures who hang upside down.
Understandably, tensions were very high for the last game, given teams were playing for enough money to buy a sheep station, and it showed when I went to check on John and Manning Up, and right as I got there, the jack had been hit into the ditch, and they weren’t sure if the jack was left in the ditch, or if it was re-spotted to the T, because in some Jack Attack competitions that is the rule, but this is the rule in the Community Shield Conditions of Play:
“If the jack is rolled out of bounds or into the ditch, then the opposing skipper will place the jack on the centre line, at his/her discretion.”
And that rule only applies when you’re setting the end – If the jack is hit into the ditch by a bowl and stays in bounds, then it stays in the ditch, if it goes out of bounds, THAT’S when it goes on the T.
A similar argument occurred 20 minutes later on the rink next door to Team 180 on Green C, a shouting match that required the Hilton Park umpires to have to come out and explain the rule and what to do, such as figure out which bowls in the ditch are ‘live’.
So to cut a long story short, me explaining that rule to John ultimately cost Manning Up the win, because instead of crowding the T, the Bats had a bowl on the edge of the ditch that held shot, and the flying mammals would win 7-6 over 9 ends, in a frustrating end to the day for John and the boys, who suffered a bad case of Deja Vu….
They fell short of Manning Jack Attack perfection at the last hurdle, and they fell short of Community Shield perfection at the last hurdle.
So Manning Up would finish the day in 8th Place with 3 wins, leading the way for the Manning teams, while the Great Bowls of Fire ended their day with a massive 16-1 win over 10 ends against Balls and Chain, a win that meant the Great Bowls would finish in 11th place in the Community Shield for the second year running, and we crunched the numbers after the game, and that final end against Manning Up in Game 3 ultimately cost the Great Bowls 6th place.
In fact, had they only dropped 3 on that end, they would’ve finished in 6th place.
While in their last game of the day, the now wooden spoon candidates Team 180 would go on to lose 6-19 against the DD’s, in what was a lopsided duel between Vic Park’s old wide Henselites and our new narrow Aeros…
In hindsight, I think Mick and Peg would rather have swapped bowls with the DD’s, but Sally would stick with hers, because she had some fantastic bowls to end the day, the first coming on the 7th end when ‘we’ were 15-2 down, and she managed to find a gap that would’ve been a foot wide, smash the jack out of bounds to reset it on the T, and somehow, the bowl that sent it out of bounds in the first place had finished a mere foot from the T, and Mick playing as the skip sent one down to make it 2 shots!
And one end later, the DD’s moved the jack out the back and to the left of the centre line, which put Team 180 at risk of conceding another 5, but Sally got a bit of advice to aim at the left boundary line and let nature do it’s work, and she clearly listened, because down went her blue bowl, and it swung in perfectly to hold shot, so much so that Sally took a photo of her handywork so that the darts team will never be able to forget it.
See, the darts team did have their moments… Not many of them, but they did have them.
So that 6-19 defeat meant Team 180 would finish the day winless on -40 shots, but in a hilarious case of the Manning teams helping each other out, the Great Bowls’ 16-1 win against Balls and Chain meant the B&C finished on -44 shots, meaning they would finish with the wooden spoon, and Team 180 finished 26th!
Captain’s Comments from John and Todd
John, Manning Up: “I’m happy with our performance, we were the top Manning team, and that reflects exactly where we’re at.”
Todd, Great Bowls of Fire: “We struggled to start with, the green was moist and we wouldn’t get our weight right, but by the end of the last game we were playing the best we had all day…. That one bloody end against Manning Up cost us though.”
The Presentations: Phil has a win, and Sarah Murdoch comes in to present the raffle and the 3rd place winner
So going through the results, 5 teams won all 4 of their games, meaning it would come down to shot variance to decide the prize money and the Community Shield, and by a pretty clear margin, the overall winners with +46 shots (67/21) were RSS from Quinns Rocks, who played with heavy hearts as one of their mates had died recently, so it really was a fantastic win.
Although, I’ve got no idea what was airing on Channel 7 when RSS accepted the trophy:
In 2nd place on +30 shots (56/26) were another Quinns Rocks team in the Goats, which gives the Quinns crew a claim to boasting the strongest social bowls competition in WA, a claim that can be reinforced by the fact that yet another Quinns Rocks team in the Bulls were in the Top 6.
3rd place overall went to the High Jackers from Bassendean, who initially weren’t even announced in the Top 4 (They were 6th on 9pts +16), but 10 minutes the organisers turned around and realised they’d misread the High Jackers’ 4th Round score on the final ladder, which was actually 9-4 their way against the Bulls, so the High Jackers had actually finished on 12 points and +26 shots, vaulting them over the Apachies (Hilton Park) into 3rd, while the Bad Guys dropped to 5th, and the Bulls, who were initially presented as 3rd to give them the trifecta, dropped to 6th.
I would call that a ‘Sarah Murdoch Australia’s Next Top Model Moment’, which I also performed in Week 5 of Manning Jack Attack, because I declared Manning Up as 3rd when they’d 2nd, and Macatac as 2nd when they were 3rd.
The other highlight of the post-game was the traditional raffle, which was where the Manning teams had their greatest moment of glory for the day, when Phil won a cask of Spey River Malt Scotch Whisky:
Although, the main highlight of the raffle was when they kicked things off with the grand prize, which was a brand new set of Aero bowls with a value of $600, which was won by a lady sitting at the front table, and everyone in the room applauded her…
Only it turned out they’d done the wrong raffle, and she’d actually won the meat pack.
Sarah Murdoch moment, right there.
So in conclusion, it was another top day out at Hilton Park, and who knows who’ll host the Community Shield next year…
It might even be Manning, but I’ll leave you instead with this photo of a sunburned Great Bowls of Fire, looking like Eddie McGuire after a Collingwood defeat.
Categories: Lawn Bowls