Lawn Bowls

The epic story of ‘The Windsor’ Game

After yet another hard-fought comeback win against a red-hot Thornlie on A Green last Saturday, even with ‘our’ rink (JT, Steve, John & Heldty) losing for the first time all season, the Manning Division 1 Blue bowls team had gone 6 points clear on top after the events of Round 13 of the season, in which 2nd-placed Leeming were beaten at home against Fremantle, and Vic Park Carlisle had beaten 3rd-placed South Perth jump them on the ladder into the second Challenge final spot.

In Round 14, we were due to face South Perth down by the Zoo, a game which would have a huge bearing on the fate of 1 Blue South, with Vic Park Carlisle facing the extremely tough Forrestfield at Forrestfield, and Leeming playing Thornlie at Thornlie, and it was the last game we were going to enjoy with our beloved third Johnny Andrew at Manning, before he moves down to Bunbury and enjoys the good life down south, so we were determined to send him out with a bang…

We did try it the first time on Thursday at Kardinya, but we were wiped clean 103-25…

And that was only 3 rinks.

So, on Friday night during Chase The Ace, our good mate Adam Mac, who was back with us in Division 1 Blue after his delayed flight from Bali saw him unfortunately dropped back from Premier League, got together with Matty Hoskin and thought up a left field idea, because South Perth is a notoriously tough place to play for teams with Grass greens (Synthetic greens + the changing wind off the Swan River), evidenced by the fact that Manning hadn’t won a Division 1 clash at South Perth since October 2020.

Macca’s idea was this:

We meet up at Manning at 10:30..

We drive out to South Perth for a roll-up at 11am, and roll-up until midday, the latest time a visiting team is allowed to roll up to…

After that, we all head across the road to the Windsor Hotel for a steak sandwich, then head back and play the game.

It’s probably been done hundreds of times before, but it was a solid team-building idea, I was on board, and Matty sent the SOS out on Saturday morning to the 1 Blue crew, and ultimately 9 of us out of the 16 made it to South Perth at 11 (Myself, Brett Adams, Macca & Hoskin in the one car, joined by Mark Ellis, Floppy Herbert, Jaxon of Bruce Rock, Gobby O’Brien and Heldty), and afterwards we headed out to the Windsor for lunch, and to watch Pat Cummins piss away 2 reviews against India.

I personally had myself some Dutch Courage in the form of a Heineken, and as for the food, top notch Steak Sandwich, would recommend.

After enjoying our food came time for the game, and it was a slow start across the board for Manning, as Brett’s rink (Mark, Floppy & Allan) were up 10-4, our rink was 4-7 down against the Neale Griffin rink, Michael Carey’s rink (Macca, Shane and Hoggy) were down 1-8 against the Ryan Havercroft rink, and Murray Piggott’s rink (Jaxon, Matty and Gobby) were down 0-10 after 3 ends, and 4-14 after 8 against the John Carter rink…

Clearly the slow start was caused by mass indigestion.

Eventually, with the energy from the steak sandwiches, we seemed to hit our straps fighting the ever-changing breeze, as Carey’s rink picked up a 6 to wipe out their deficit and turn the momentum, we got the lead 12-9 at the halfway mark, Murray fought back to within 10 shots, and Brett led 11-5.

Cutting a long story short for the rest of the game:

Our No.1 rink, playing together for the last time, strung enough good ends together and won against Neale Griffin’s rink (Featuring yours truly against Bowls WA CEO Ken Pride) by a healthy 25-13, although we did drop 2 on the last end to tighten the aggregate.

Brett’s rink fell away and lost 14-21 after leading 13-8 after 14, not helped when they dropped 3 on the last end after a drive from Brett went a bit too narrow, he hit one of his own bowls in and got the jack, which would’ve worked had the jack not rolled about 3 feet further than intended to give South Perth 3.

At the time our rinks both finished, South Perth had just taken the aggregate lead 72-70 after Carter picked up 3 against Murray to lead 25-15 with 2 ends to play, an overall lead that lasted all of 30 seconds as Carey’s rink picked up a 3 to lead 19-13 and put us back ahead 73-72 with 4 ends remaining out of the 84.

Carter picked up another shot on Murray to tie the agg at 73, but with the money on the table, Hoskin saved his best bowls for last and trailed the jack out the back for 3, which held past the skips to make the final score 18-26, putting us back ahead 76-73 on the live scoreboard, as Havercroft smashed the jack into the ditch on the 20th End to get a shot on Carey, making it 19-14, and 76-74 Manning, going down to the 84th end…

However, Michael’s four looked up the creek, going 3 shots down (All within a foot of the jack) with the skip’s bowls to come, and Michael couldn’t quite get the holder square with his first bowl, and this is remembering that he had to get no worse than 2nd shot to seal the aggregate, with South Perth seemingly deciding to avoid the head and make Michael play the shot, rather than give it to him.

Notice Shane’s crap front bowl about 1.5 metres away? It was about to become the needle in the haystack.

So with barely a pindrop to be heard, Michael bowled it.

He got the jack…

It was going back and out of bounds, which would’ve been a dead end.

Before it did that, the jack hit one of South Perth’s holders that was sitting a foot behind, it still had enough momentum on it to travel forward, where Shane had left a dodgy bowl 1.5 metres short, which became the shot in amidst a sea of South Perth bowls, and in one of the craziest endings you’ll see, Manning won the aggregate by 3 shots, 77 to 74.

I think that shot was life’s way of telling us that we may just get promoted in a month’s time.

A couple of notes:

-I believe Macca may have kickstarted a tradition/routine for Manning teams playing at South Perth

-That was the eighth aggregate we’ve been involved in this season to be decided by fewer than 8 shots… we’ve won 6, lost 1 and drawn 1, and two of those wins were against South Perth by exactly 3 shots.

Funnily enough, Manning and South Perth played each other in Premier League at Manning on Saturday, and the result was reversed, with South Perth winning 76 to 71, 5 points to 3.

But, that was a momentous afternoon for our season, because 3rd-placed Vic Park Carlisle lost 7-1 at Forrestfield (Which isn’t that big of an upset), and Leeming were belted 8-0 at Thornlie, leaving Manning 12 points clear with 4 games to go, against the teams in 8th (Forrestfield), 9th (Safety Bay at Safety Bay), and 10th (Hilton Park), and the now 3rd-placed Kardinya at Kardy in the season ender.

Simple equation is, if we stick together, play for each other, keep our heads down and win the next 3 games, which is half the battle, we’ll go up into Division 1 White with a game in hand and play off for the Division 1 Blue pennant, avoiding the dreaded Challenge final after so many years of heartache.

So there you go, if you want to win at South Perth, roll up at 11, go to the Windsor for a team luncheon, and hope you can take the jack forward.

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