Lawn Bowls

Kristina Krstic’s Commonwealth Games Celebration at Manning went pretty well

So last month we got the great news that the Manning Bowling Club’s shooting star Kristina Krstic had been selected for the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham at the end of the month, where she’ll play in the Women’s Pairs (with Ellen Ryan) and Fours (with Lynsey Clarke, Rebecca Van Asch and Natasha Van Eldik), making her the first WA-based player selected for the Australian Comm Games team since Roma Dunn won a Silver Medal in the Women’s Pairs at Melbourne in 2006, with Krissy only the 12th WA-based bowler to gain selection for an Australian Comm Games team, and the first Comm Games representative in Manning Memorial’s 65-year history.

On the right we’ve got SOME of the local WA clubs the 12 players played for

If you want an idea of how big this achievement is, 9 out of those 12 players (Frank Harrison, Bert Sharp & Kristina the exceptions) have been inducted into the Bowls WA Hall of Fame, so Krissy’s in pretty good company.

The club’s former Entertainment chairperson Helen Heal did most of the forward planning on a party for Kristina during April & May, after there became a good chance that her Tuesday teammate might crack it for Comm Games selection, and sure enough, on June 4, Kristina made the team, and Helen and Sandy Simpson went straight to the bar and set the date for a celebration on July 2, just after Krissy got back from the Australian Open, and a week before she was on the flight to the Midlands….

The irony of that forward planning was that June 4 was also the day before Helen and AJ set off for their annual trip to Broome, so they sadly wouldn’t be in attendance.

Over the next couple of weeks, yours truly, my colleagues on the Entertainment Committee + friends (Club Secretary Liz Matthews in particular) sent out the invites and got to work planning a historic moment in the club’s history, with one J.Capper leaving the all important job of Master of Ceremonies in the very incapable hands of yours truly, thanks to my performances dressed up as Richie Benaud, and it was also my responsibility to organise the PowerPoint, which was easy enough, as there’s photos galore of Kristina playing in tournaments over the last 8 years.

So there you go – I’m a novice bowler, and a novice MC to boot.

But there were no major hiccups along the road, and the end result of our hard work was a serene green & gold themed celebration of Kristina:

There was also a wall chronicling the many successful moments of Kristina’s career, and a Wishing Well, or a Wishing Table more accurately, in the form of a Royal Mail Post Box for Kristina to read when she gets to the UK…

Because if it had’ve been an Australia Post letterbox, the letters would’ve gone missing by now.

I tell you, with all those decorations, passers by must’ve thought we were having a watch party for the Wallabies while they smacked England on Saturday night….

Either way, we had fun.

I must also make mention of the fact that there was an unfortunate incident that occurred while the decorations went up on Saturday morning, and that was when Kerry Rush fell off a ladder and fractured her leg, but thankfully she is back home now and we keep sending all our best wishes to ‘Krush’, although it is unfortunate that Kerry is a die-hard West Coast fan, because she’s become used to watching things have sharp falls down ladders in 2022.

One of the other features throughout the night was the the live entertainment, which was provided by Kate Morss, daughter of 2-time State Singles champion Helen Morss, who had a highly successful 12-year tenure at Manning playing alongside Kristina before she recently crossed to South Perth, and I can tell you Kate (And her musical partner Jasper) were so well received that they’ll be back at the club for a live set during Friday night Chase The Ace in just over a week.

Overall, the night was attended by roughly 110 people of a wide ranging demographic, from members of the WA bowling community (A couple of whom had played for Manning over the years), Kristina’s family members and loved ones, and members of the Manning Bowling Club family, from social members, to current players and Life Members, with plenty of them decked out in green & gold to celebrate the occasion.

Throughout the night we had a number of guest speakers come up and join myself at the lectern, and first up was the Mayor of South Perth Mr Greg Milner, who attended for an hour before he had an engagement elsewhere, but regardless it was very nice to have a rare visit from the Mayor, who commended the best club in his electorate on being named the Bowls WA Metro Club of the Year at the recent awards night, and gave his congratulations to Kristina before he took off, and I can imagine Mr Milner will return to Challenger Avenue no later than the City of South Perth Christmas party in 5 months.

After Kate & Jasper’s first set came the main speeches, and Bowls WA President Mr Doug Kelly started by making an impromptu speech on behalf of the wider WA bowling community, making mention of the great following that Kristina has developed in Western Australia thanks to her achievements at state & national level, also recognising the journey that Cody Packer (Who was in attendance) went on alongside Kristina in his ultimately unsuccessful bid to gain selection for the Comm Games team, and Doug concluded by complimenting Manning as not just the Club of the Year, but (arguably) the unofficial Club of the Decade, considering everything the club has achieved in terms of individual & team success on & off the green for what feels like much longer than a decade.

I don’t think the projector helped Doug’s scalp too much

A big compliment, especially from the top brass.

Straight after Doug was finished, MBC President Steve Salamon spoke on behalf of the club, and he told us the story of when he’d only just joined Manning some 12 years ago, and he needed another female player (His partner Lynn was the other female) for his team that would be entered into the club Mixed Fours, and as it happened, one of Manning’s distinguished (former) players Mr John Francisco suggested a 15-year-old kid who had an enormous amount of talent…

It turned out Francisco had a pretty good idea, although they just fell short of winning the Mixed Fours that season…

Steve also made mention of the qualities that had made Kristina such a great player & person, with a particular emphasis on her loyalty, given she’d been playing at Manning since joining as a 14-year-old in 2008, and despite the countless offers from other clubs that would’ve been presented to her over the years, Kristina is still at the Eagles 14 years later, and we’re glad she is.

While Steve was up at the lectern, the club recognised that Sue Hogg, wearing an old school Mark Viduka Socceroos shirt, would also be involved in the bowls at Leamington Spa in her capacity as an International Technical Officer (aka an ITO), and she was given a bouquet of flowers as congratulations.

After that, we passed the mic over to Krissy, who was naturally a bit overwhelmed by all the work that had gone in for a night dedicated to her achievement(s), and the sheer number of people that had come just to celebrate the moment, and I can tell you her words even made a few people sitting in the crowd a bit misty eyed themselves.

That was when it came time to give Kristina a gift on behalf of the club, and it was something right out of the top drawer…. a framed caricature!

Looks like something Bill Leak used to draw.

After another performance from Kate, up to the microphone came another special guest, Bowls WA Hall of Fame member Lee Poletti (Who was once named Manning Ladies’ Bowler of the Year in 2007-08) to very kindly answer a couple of questions about her TWO appearances in the Commonwealth Games, the first being in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 where she won a Silver Medal in the Women’s Fours (Unfortunately Australia lost the final 16-17 against South Africa), and in Manchester 2002 she played in the Women’s Pairs alongside another great West Aussie Roma Dunn, and Lee did tell me that usually when she gets asked to talk about her Comm Games experiences…

“Roma does all the talking!”

Lee started off by telling us the story from ’98 that thanks to the brutal Malaysian humidity, the greens in KL were running at 8 seconds (Which is even slower than the predicted 10 seconds for Birmingham), and how she was telling Karen Murphy to play with drive weight on most ends, and four years later in Manchester it rained throughout the entire opening week of the Games and made the greens there just as slow.

Lee said it was an absolute thrill to play with Roma in 2002, as she’d idolised the Dudley Park great as a player, and it was simply unfortunate that they ran into a great Kiwi pairing in Jo Edwards and Sharon Sims in the quarter finals, with Edwards & Sims going on to win the Gold Medal without losing a game.

At that point I mentioned why Roma wasn’t with us on the night, as she’d been pre-booked for a holiday up to Broome, but she was kind enough to send through an email to Liz Matthews, which we read out on the night:

After that, Lee concluded the interview by expressing her admiration for Kristina after many years of contests on the green, especially in Tuesday Premier League finals with Lee at Mosman Park and Kristina at Manning winning more often than not, and she told Krissy not to be disappointed if you miss out on a Gold medal, because getting a Silver or a Bronze is still a fantastic achievement.

Once we’d thanked Lee and she was back in her seat, Steve came up and praised my performance as MC by quoting a Chinese proverb about how mothers who wanted their babies to become singers would kiss them on the mouth, and if that was the case, we’re still trying to figure out where I got my talent from as a baby….

Trust me, I’m still trying to figure it out as well.

Following that, the last major planned events of the night were when we raffled off a Henselite bowls bag courtesy of the Perth Bowls Centre, the connection being that Henselite are Kristina’s major sponsor, and unbeknownst to me, a late edition was a signed Australian Jackaroos shirt, which was probably more coveted than a bag.

The bag was won by a Manning stalwart who answers to the name of Brian Clare, and rather ironically, the shirt was won by WA bowling great Therese Hastings, Kristina’s teammate & longtime coach….

Who happens to also be an Australian selector.

“Don’t you have 400 of them Therese?”

And lucky last came the cutting of the cake, which was an absolute work of art from Hailey Packer that had to be seen to be admired, right before Krissy plunged the knife in.

I like how Hailey managed to get the sunglasses on
Sue & Sandy take the photos

To reiterate what we said on the night, good luck Krissy, in both the pairs with Ellen, and the fours with Lynsey Clarke, Rebecca Van Asch and Natasha Van Eldik…. and GO FOR GOLD.

On a concluding note, during his speech Steve noted that Peter Bowden, who has mentored the Tuesday Premier League ladies to a baker’s dozen of pennants since 2008, brought in a newspaper article from August 2009 about a then 15-year-old Kristina, and he made particular note of her answer to the question, What Is Your Greatest Ambition?

Box = Ticked.

With thanks to the following people for their work getting the night together and making it go so well:

John Capper and my fellow crew on the Entertainment Committee (Sandy Simpson, Lynne Hamilton, Trish Hall, and Mat Hoskin for emotional support), Margaret Seebeck for organising the floral decorations, Christine Ellis, Kerry Rush & Kerry White helped with decorations, Deb Capper for organising the catering, Hailey Packer for the cake, Kate Morss, Jasper & Connor for the music, Helen Heal for getting the ball rolling on Krissy’s party, and Liz Matthews for organising the guests.

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