Lawn Bowls

The epic ending to the Manning Winter social bowls season

Because this story is too good (And too long) to keep confined to a segment on a Tuesday

Another great day for bowls – 27 and windy

Last week marked the end of Winter Social Pairs bowling at Manning (Even though Winter itself ended 6 weeks ago) before pennants trials start throughout this week for both genders, and in a bid to get 1 more monetary collect, I played on Thursday with my good mate Viv, which ended with us being discombobulated in both games (5-11 and 4-15) in the dry heat and a fierce Easterly…

Then on Friday morning I got a note from my usual partner James ‘Fat Jack’ Jackson that he’d gone down with a cold, so I played with Chief Selector Shane Adams, and we did win the first game 21-4, but unfortunately ran into a brick wall against Keith and Viv next up (6-14) and subsequently missed out on getting the 1-game win…

Then on Friday night, President Steve asked me if I could play in the lucky last Three Bowl Pairs on Saturday (October 1) to create an even number of teams (22), and considering the weather was 27 Celsius and sunny I said yes, so he organised me to play with ‘Little Joe’, the 93-year-old from Italia who owns half of Victoria Park, and I was looking forward to it, because despite his age he’s still a very good draw bowler.

The only problem was, we got to 12:25 on Saturday, I drew a card for the Synthetic green, and Steve suddenly realised that a fortnight prior (Because we didn’t play Grand Final day), Joe had put his name down with the Mayor of Manning Grahame Maples, which meant I was partnerless, and Little Joe spent the rest of the day bemoaning the fact that he didn’t get to play with me.

So Steve sent an SOS to Wednesday Pakkers regular Corrie Barnes of the Wheatbelt town of Trayning, who was spending the afternoon at the fabled Baptistcare Riverside in Mount Henry, referred to by Manning players as the Old People’s Home (OPH) because of the sheer number of our members that live there, and having dodged the dreaded lurgy that her husband Maurice had picked up, Corrie got down to Challenger Avenue at 12:58, and so the lucky last Team 22 would get a game in on C3 against Viv and Dan, the lanky New Zealander from New Zealand who’ll be making his pennants debut in a few weeks.

At first myself and Corrie were looking okay as we only trailed 2-3 after 3 ends out of 13, but we then looked shot to bits after playing multiple loose shots into a swirling breeze, and Viv and Dan said thank you very much and picked up 5, 3 and 1 over the next 3 ends to blow the score out to 2-12 after 6 ends, which is where the story picks up.

While I moaned aloud about the sound level of Paul Young’s Love of the Common People blaring out on the loud speaker, internally I thought to myself, ‘Why the **** did I agree to this!’, as the dire situation looked even worse on the next end when we were set to drop another shot with Dan sitting a bowls width from the jack, but somehow I did enough to draw shot by a bee’s diaphragm to make the score 3-12 after 7, which honestly felt like a mere consolation shot, considering no team had come back from a double digit margin to win any game during the Winter Bowls season.

However, when you’ve got someone like me who gets so competitive he swears violently during games of UNO, the contest wasn’t done just yet.

With Corrie finally getting the mat, we could finally start generating a bit of momentum, and having played with and against Corrie several times over the past year, I observed that she simply needed a reference point on her line when bowling, so I stuck my foot on which coloured line to aim at, which was usually the black line from the clubhouse end, and the yellow line from the Waterford End.

As you’ll see, even though Corrie did occasionally put one down on the wrong bias with those tiny little size 00 Henselite bowls, it started to pay off, because she responded magnificently and started getting shots within a few feet of the jack to get the heat off me, and was landing shots like this:

This was on the 9th End, a resting toucher if there ever was one

We would hold another 1 on the 8th to make it 4-12, made it a hat-trick of holds on the 9th end to go to 5-12, four in a row to go to 6-12 on the 10th, and a fifth consecutive shot on the 11th to make it 7-12 with 2 ends to play, at which point I jokingly told Corrie that if the game had another 20 ends, we’d be all over Viv and Dan.

It turned out we only needed 2 ends to be all over them.

Starting the 12th, Corrie landed 2 shots to set up our hold of 3, making it 10-12 with an end to play, and for the first time we had a realistic chance of completing the comeback, given we only needed 2 shots on the last end to win on an ends countback.

Then, with the game and the comeback on the line, Corrie got one within two feet to pour the pressure on, Viv dropped 3 bowls at least a metre short, I somehow didn’t stuff up and tacked 2 more shots on to heap all the pressure on Dan, and unfortunately for the tall fella, he hasn’t had too many experiences in these pressure situations, and his shots all missed.

It took me a few moments to process what had actually just happened, but with one of the greatest comebacks seen at Manning this year, myself and Corrie had indeed come back from 2-12 down to win 13-12, holding the last 7 ends from absolutely nowhere.

Put it in your pipe and smoke it everyone, WE DID IT

Having somehow pulled off a win for the ages, I genuinely thought we were on for a royal pasting in the second game, as we had to take on 2 mainstays of Manning Division 1 Blue; Nigel, The Welshman from Scotland, and Rio Tinto’s No.1 West Coast supporter Matt Hoskin, and you can tell he’s an Eagles fan because his bowls are gold, white and blue.

The reason I expected a pasting is simply because it was two experienced Divvy 1 players, against a foul-mouthed novice Jack Attack convert and a Wednesday Pakkers regular, I’d also note I played Nigel the previous Thursday (Albeit we both had different partners), and lost to him 23-1, which means the famed WinViz predictor would’ve been swaying 95:5 the way of Nigel and Matty.

However, we were all in for a rude shock.

After Matt won the toss, ‘we’ picked up a 2 on the first end thanks to a toucher, then on the 2nd End, Nigel shook his head in disbelief (Not for the last time) as Corrie outperformed Hoskin again and planted two shots within two feet, then I added two more shots as Nigel was a bit wayward, and before you knew it, we were 6-0 up!

In the likely event that we went to crap, that margin was a very good cushion to have, and nature did appear to correct itself as Nigel and Matt got the mat back on the 3rd end, and won 4 out of the next 5 ends to tie the scores at 7-7 after 7, another piece of Numerology that wasn’t missed by anyone:

As always, it’s lucky for some.

On the 8th End, Corrie had narrowly outdrawn Matt, to which I belted out Michael Alphabet’s famous catchphrase “WHAT A BOWLAH!”, but in my attempt to get another shot, I managed to promote one of Matty’s bowls ahead of the holder (He let me know about it), and we went behind 7-8, which would turn out to be the only time we trailed on the scoreboard in the game.

I landed 2 on the 9th End to reclaim the lead 9-8, Nigel held shot on the 10th to make it 9 shots apiece, then came something I didn’t see coming.

During the afternoon, Kerry Rush (Who lives at the OPH alongside Corrie and Maurice and is currently recovering from a broken leg) had come down to watch Corrie, and during the 11th End the two ladies were having a good old chat, which can go on for a while when you’re talking to Kerry, and while they did that Matty picked up a toucher and trailed the jack, and I signalled to Corrie to stay on her wide hand and have a go at hitting out the holder…

But during their conversation, Kerry had told Corrie to use her narrow hand, and in hindsight I’m glad Corrie didn’t hear me, because she unexpectedly let down a tracer bullet and trailed the jack past Matty!

Nigel could only watch on in bewilderment, as this tiny, unassuming old lady had just landed an absolute haymaker on himself and Matty.

That allowed me to slot 2 more shots in and give us 3 to lead 12-9 with 2 ends to play, but it looked like myself and Corrie had finally imploded when Nigel and Matt went 5 shots up with a bowl to play on the 12th, but crucially I did enough to cut 2 out, which made it 12-12 after 12 (More numerology!), with one thrilling final end to play of the social season.

Nigel sticking his foot out

In a bid to exploit Corrie’s lack of confidence on long ends, Matt sent the jack just shy of the T, a plan that appeared to work as Corrie put one on the wrong bias first up, then she couldn’t get the right grass on the others, but Matty’s shots still left plenty of room, so it was all down to 3 bowls from myself and Nigel to decide the money.

I did get the shot after the first bowls, but Nigel got shot and was jack high approximately a metre behind, my second shot had good weight but was always too wide into the Easterly, then Nigel put a tad too much weight on his last bowl, giving me one last shot to give us the win, at which point I had a laugh and told Matt that I was Jamie Elliott lining up for goal after the siren.

So I got myself set, released the bowl, and watched and initially thought that the breeze was going to keep it out wide, but it turned out I’d got the grass absolutely right, the weight was perfect, and the bowl slid into the head and comfortably finished as the shot, Corrie’s scream of delight could be heard from Griffin Crescent, as the miracle team once again won 13-12, on the last bowl of the season.

Unfortunately for this story I never took a photo of the winning shot, but imagine this glorious moment in a bowls game, complete with celebrations:

So to end this story on a happy note, the miracle partnership of JT and Corrie, that among many things:

– Was formed only 30 minutes before play was due to begin

– Found ourselves down 2-12 in Game I

– Were staring defeat in the face with 1 bowl to play in the day against quality opposition…

Had finished up in the 2 Game winners, and it meant that despite having only one attempt in October, I’d managed to record a 2 Game win (I.e Win both games on the day) in every month of this pennants off-season (April, May, June, July, August, September and October), after winning all of 1 game in 6 months last year.


And if you need a reference, here’s the list:

  • Friday, April 22: 2 Game win with Janet Jackson (No relation to Michael)
  • Friday, May 20: 2 Game win with Michael Alphabet
  • Saturday, May 28: 1st Overall with Steve Lambert/Steve Salamon
  • Thursday, June 23: 2 Game Win with Michael Alphabet
  • Saturday, June 25: 2nd Overall with Bob Connell
  • Friday, July 8: 2 Game Win with Viv Andrews
  • Thursday, August 4: 2 Game win with Alan Booth
  • Thursday, August 18: 2-Game win with James Jackson
  • Friday, August 19: 1st Overall with Brett Adams
  • Friday, September 9: 2nd Overall with James Jackson
  • Saturday, October 1: 2 Game win with Corrie Barnes

It’s not quite on the same level of achievement as Mark Ella scoring a try in every Test of the 1984 Wallabies Grand Slam tour, but I can claim that I may be the only bowler at Manning to ever pull it off.

All the while, a few rinks across, Little Joe was still annoyed he didn’t get to play with me, and it showed when himself and Grahame were disassembled by my Jack Attack handyman Adam Macpherson and another OPH regular in Max Smeeth, who would finish 1st Overall for the day…

And we all made our way into the sports results section The West Australian on Monday, although I don’t remember my surname having a punctuation mark after the first T.

There are some days you don’t forget too soon, and I won’t be forgetting this past Saturday for at least the next 5 days.

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