Lawn Bowls

Manning Pennants Adventures: 17th-19th November

After making the club triples final the previous Sunday, my week was proceeding uneventfully, as I was once again set to rumble with Craig Stevens and the Division 1 Blue crew under the roof at Rossmoyne, which would’ve been a lovely place to be last Thursday afternoon in Perth, considering it was going to be windy and rainy during the afternoon and into the evening, so much so we would get a month’s worth of rain in the space of 30 hours…

However, things didn’t pan out that way, as two players from our top side(s) couldn’t play on Thursday, so that meant players got pulled up from the lower grades, and needing someone to drag the average age of the team below 66, I was one of the two players brought up to play in the second Manning Premier League team playing South Perth’s top team:

I thought I was going to do well to get a game in 1 Blue this year, but I got that ahead of schedule, and the fact I wound up playing a game of midweek Premier League bowls is more remarkable when I note that I was still playing Division 5 in the first week of March this year, getting smashed in a team that went on to be relegated.

Some players try their whole lives to get into a Premier League game of any kind, and it took a whippersnapper like me 13 months.

As for the rink I was on, I played with John Andrew the previous week in 1 Blue against Spearwood (We won quite well), and it was my first proper game alongside Greg ‘Boss’ Hogg (His son George Bradley Hogg was playing on another rink), and my skip was Mike Carey, who told me he was lining up a joke to tell his grandson on Friday night:

“How does a butcher introduce his wife in conversation?”

“Meat Patty.”

I can confirm it got a good reaction.

If there is a trade-off to getting a game in Premier League, it was that instead of playing indoors, I was playing out at South Perth on a cold, wet & windy miserable day (It was mid bloody November), although at least it was on a Synthetic green that would dry out, compared to having to play on boggy wet grass greens where you need a golf swing to bowl.

We were up against a rink led by big lanky Troy Kinnane (with John Terrell, Phil Manning and Mick McRae), and we were 7-1 up after 5 ends, which was when the rain hit hard and play was suspended for 15 minutes, so we buggered off inside to watch the cricket:

Couldn’t quite build a tin shed over the entrance could you South Perth

In the meantime, fun fact about Troy, in addition to being Vice President of South Perth BC, he’s currently the Bowls Australia Regional Manager for Southern WA (Clive Adams runs Northern WA), which among many responsibilities, makes Troy the de facto Bowls Australia representative for Manning Jack Attack.

Imagine Troy’s surprise when Mike told him where I’d been plucked from.

So after play resumed, the natural order of things seemed to be restored, as despite our best efforts (I can tell you with certainty we played pretty well), and Michael going with Troy drawing shot on the edge of the ditch, the top brass of the Millers took the lead by the halfway stage and booted away to win the game 23-16, although I’d say with 3 ends to go we had half a sniff of stealing a point, because we were trailing 13-19, we were holding 3 on a long end, and in preparation for Troy going a drive we had 2 bowls near the ditch to cover him off..

But with the shot of the day, Troy played with weight, got the contact he wanted, and in the ensuing ruckus, the jack carried just enough for South Perth to hold 3.

So a damn good skip’s bowl pretty much finished us off, and the frustrating part on our side was that we got those 3 shots back on the penultimate end, then on the final end, Hoggy sat 2 within 2 feet, only for Troy to nudge him out with his first bowl, and that was the ballgame, as we finished up the closest Manning rink on a dog day out, with one rink losing 12-25 and the other losing 13-21.

I’d note that the geographical rivals exchanged an eye for an eye on Thursday – South Perth’s top side swept our second side 6-0, while Manning’s top side beat South Perth’s second side 6-0 on our boggy green.

So that was a good induction to Premier League bowls, and a funny post-script to this game is that Michael also told me he was going to bring in a heap of old hats to the club and give them away during Chase The Ace on Friday night, among them a couple of hats from Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 that were given to yours truly…

I can only summise that life rewarded Michael for his good deed, because he got his ticket drawn out during the Chase The Ace draw, and with only 5 cards left in the cabinet, he plucked out the Ace of Spades to win $10,000.

Henceforth, Michael has a new nickname…


So after that wild turn of events, the Saturday 1 Blue crew (With myself and Michael) had to back up from a bad loss at home against Leeming last Saturday and head out to Thornlie on a very cool day, and last month a few blokes in 1 Blue went to Thornlie for a trial game and got badly caught out by the wild conditions of Thornlie’s synthetic green + a strong wind, so much so the rink I was on lost 33-12 and could barely get a bowl within a metre, while a few of us had played Thornlie’s 1 Blue team in Round 1 of midweek pennants at Manning, and they fair dinkum crunched us 71-46 on aggregate.

However, the Manning line-up was a fair bit different than a month ago, although we did lose Phil ‘Floppy’ Herbert from our rink prior to the game due to hurting his back, and it was probably better for Floppy that he hurt his back before the game, because he definitely would’ve hurt it carrying me during the game.

Still, the rink of JT, Peter Bowden, Mark Ellis and Murray Piggott were up 9-0 on Rob Bowron’s team after 4 ends, then for various reasons we dropped the next 7 ends to fall behind 9-12, as the breeze was suffering from a mild case of schizophrenia, causing a few bowls to get caught out wide with no hope of coming back, but it looked like we might be back in the game after I got a measure for shot to get the mat back with the score at 10-12….

And then we dropped a 6 on the next end, which was akin to a kiss of death with purple lipstick.

So trailing 10-18 after 13 ends, we were set to go down another shot, but bowling on the wide hand and having to start his line on Rink 3 (from Rink 4), Murray landed one of the most difficult shots of the day to give us 1, at which point I was so caught up in the thrill of actually holding a bloody end that I exclaimed something that could’ve been mistaken for a backhanded compliment:

“Welcome back Muzza!”

According to ‘select’ Manning players, that comment could’ve been a million times funnier than what it was, had I realised there was an obituary for a Murray Piggott of Brunswick Junction in The West Australia that same day, and this Murray was obviously quite a character, because he had at least 8 different tributes:

Had I known that, I would’ve exclaimed “You’re back from the dead, Muzza!”

Moving on, after dropping that 6, we did win 6 out of the last 8 ends and cut the final margin of 16-20, the rinks of Carey & Wayne Heldt carried the team and won 23-10 and 23-20 respectively, Heldty’s rink was up 22-10 but had to withstand a fierce fightback from Michael Yates’ foursome to get the point, and the aggregate was beyond doubt with an end to go on Gobby O’Brien’s rink despite them trailing 16-18, and I have to say the bowls played by Gobby and Eddie Gollan (With all of 1 leg) were sensational, first of all on the 20th end when Gobby’s little white bowl found the most minute gap possible to wick the jack over and take shot:

Notice that white bowl? That’s how small that gap was.

Which lasted all of 1 bowl when Eddie smashed the head and got shot with the jack pinging back to a Thornlie bowl to give the Ravens that 18-16 lead, and with a bowl to go for Thornlie, Manning were holding game (3) to give us 7 points for the day, but Eddie drove straight at the jack and killed the end, and on the replayed final end Thornlie held 2 to win the rink 20-16.

So Manning got 6 points on the road, and as the old saying goes any away win is a good win, especially in a cutthroat grade like Division 1 Blue, and proof of that comes when I let you know this is what those north of the river types on Bowls 360 wrote in their Preview for Round 4 of 1 Blue South:

Yes, it was nearly 7-1…

To Manning.

So all in all, I’ve managed to get another crack in Thursday Premier League this week against Kardinya, while I can only summise that game at Thornlie will be my last visit to 1 Blue on a Saturday, because with players above me in the pecking order available again, and the fact we can’t win our rink, I’ve gone back down to the struggling Division 2 Red side, who still haven’t won an aggregate on Saturday this season, and it appears we’ll be off to Cockburn, which is actually just down the road from where I work…

Oh well, at least they’ve got a roof.

Categories: Lawn Bowls

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