Lawn Bowls

Manning Memorial Bowling Club, the Vexillologists

Vexillology – The study & interest of flags.

The 2022-23 pennant season had already been yet another successful season at the Manning Bowling Club, as the Women’s Tuesday Premier League 12, already among the greatest pennant teams WA and Australian bowls has ever seen, won the Tuesday Premier League title for the ninth consecutive season, all up their 14th flag in the last 16 years:

The team: Robyn O’Brien, Laura Butler, Sandy Simpson, Saffrone Alden, coach Peter Bowden, Hailey Packer, Therese Hastings, Sue Hogg, Liz Matthews, Sue Barrow, Sharon Lyster, Helen Heal and holding the shield are Kristina Krstic and Kaitlin Tyrrell

That was mid-March, and now we move on to the events of the opening weekend of April, when 3 more flags were added to the rafters.


The 1st Division Blue team had the day off to prepare for the Grand Final against Doubleview on Sunday, leaving the stage free for the Premier League crew to play their part, and to provide some context, this PL season felt like a polar opposite to 2021-22, in which Manning limped into 4th, caught lightning in a bottle and stunned the Top 3 teams (Cambridge, Doubleview and South Perth) in the finals.

This time around, the Eagles kept that run going and finished 2022-23 as minor premiers to claim home green advantage thanks to losing only 1 aggregate post-Christmas, but that loss was against South Perth at Manning, which is where the Premier finals story begins as the Eagles played the 2nd-placed Millers in the second Semi Final on D Green, which had copped 38mm of rain from Thursday evening into Friday morning, and to use a racing parlance, the track went from a Good 3 to a Soft 6, so it was nobody’s friend.

Meanwhile, the Saturday Ladies also had two Division 1 teams in the finals, with 1 Blue (Who finished 4th) playing South Perth away at South Perth, and the 1 Red ladies (Who lost top spot thanks to a 1-shot defeat at Scarborough in Round 18) were away at Sorrento facing Osborne Park in a Semi Final, with the winner to play either host club Sorrento or North Beach in the Grand Final.

Now, the grand dream that had been discussed among us nuffies in the Division 1 teams before the weekend was that the Premier team would be able to win the Semi Final and go straight to the Grand Final, ensuring the Division 1 Blue crew, who had already finished top of 1 Blue South and were guaranteed promotion to 1 White and a spot in the Grand Final, would have some company at Thornlie on Sunday in our Grand Final against Doubleview’s 1 Blue team…

However, they say the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and on April Fool’s Day, Manning lost to the Millers for the third time in the season with the final aggregate finishing 75-68, as South Perth hit then hard early and lead from start to finish, ensuring the Eagles would have to go the long way around to win another Premier League pennant:

It was mixed across the board for both teams:

– The ever vocal Daniel Brown (With John Percival, Tom Antonio & Lee ‘Lord’ Such), who was the No.1 Skip in Premier League this year, had a day out against Shane Knott’s rink (Nathan Jones, Andy Lill & Joe Angel), winning 23-11 to lead the way for South Perth as Browny pretty much nailed every drive he had to land… there were bowls hit so hard that they wound up at Clontarf.

– Ross Bresland’s rink (with Derek Angell, Mitch Biglin & Scott Walker) defeated Daniel Trewhella’s rink (with Blake Butler, Mitch Walker & Peter Ker) 18-13, a result that could easily have been bigger for South Perth were it not for some huge bowls from DT to cut out no fewer than a dozen shots and create a few swings to the Eagles, giving DT the chance to flex his guns and fire up the team.

– Manning’s No.1 rink of Will Hyatt, David Downey, AJ ‘The Moth’ Heal & Scott O’Brien defeated Justin Opie’s rink (Troy Kinnane, Marcus Sear & Callum Alberti) 20-16, a well-earned result in a game that was an arm-wrestle throughout, but a 7 shot run through the middle ends to go from 10-11 to 17-11 set up the win to give the Eagles a bit of life.

– Finally, the standout for Manning was the performance of Tom Mitchell’s rink (Lewis Grigg, Miles Kemp & Nigel Rees), who were down 1-8 after 6 ends against Glenn Pauling’s rink (Paul Davies, Tyrone Alberti & John Wardrop), but scored 24 shots in an exquisite 11 end span to lead by as much as 24-13, finally winning 24-18 as they gave away a few shots while trying in vain to save the aggregate.

Tommy in action

In the other Semi, Doubleview played Osborne Park (Without Cody Packer due to Australian duties at the Multi Nations) on a slow A Green, and after The View led for most of the day, their lead was slashed down to just 1 shot after 83 ends (76-75), with the last rink off being the match between John Goddard vs John Slavich, with Goddard ahead 24-8 after Doubleview’s lead Dave Rankin was forced off due to a leg injury (That had already left him playing with a walking stick), almost cancelling out Ryan Moyle’s 31-14 win against Ozzies’ Sean Mawdsley, but after the Saints went up 2 shots on the final end, Ron Haring of The View cut them out to put them up 1, Goddard couldn’t drive it out, giving Doubleview the aggregate win 77-75, so after a late lunch, it would be Doubleview against Manning in the Preliminary Final, a repeat of 2022.

Meanwhile, away from Manning, the 1 Blue South Ladies were defeated 37-27 by South Perth at South Perth after the two rinks were split, but in better news, the 1 Red ladies had defeated Osborne Park 47-36 in their Semi Final at Sorrento (Laura Butler’s rink winning 32-8 and wiping out Wendy Dalton’s 13-shot defeat), and hosts Sorrento had been defeated 36-35 by North Beach in an upset, meaning the Saturday 1 Red flag would be a mini-rematch of the Tuesday Premier League final.

The Preliminary Final between Manning and Doubleview didn’t get underway until 2pm due to the late finish + the lunch break, and once play began it looked like Groundhog Day for the premiers, who looked in real trouble all the way up to the 63 end mark as The View led 61-53 overall, but 2 huge holds of 4 to Wyatt and Trewhella’s rinks tied the scores in the blink of an eye, and with the ends winding down and both teams trading shots, Manning led 73-71 after 80 ends, then the rinks started finishing:

Anthony Williams’ rink (with Gavin Faulkner, Stephen Cerff & Stewart Gosstray) defeated Shane Knott’s rink 25-9, completing a dog of a day for Knotty’s four, who scored just 20 shots across both games and were pretty much under a blowtorch every time they stepped on the mat, but crucially picked up 2 out of the last 3 ends for the aggregate.

Ryan Moyle’s rink (with Tom Whitfield, Brad Pearce and Brad Pryce) defeated Tom Mitchell’s rink 19-23, a game that featured another big comeback from Tommy’s four, going from 8-15 down to 16-15 ahead between the 12th and 15th ends before the Moyle four responded in kind, but 3 shots in the final 2 ends to Manning were once more vital to the aggregate.

Mitchell vs Moyle with Mitchell holding shot thanks to Lewis Grigg

It came down to the final 2 rinks, and once again Will Hyatt’s four led the way for the Eagles, powering away from Charlie Slavich’s four (Addy Wetzler, Ben Willesee & Russ Bates) to win 22-12, and it was their last end that proved huge overall as Hyatt was down 4 shots before his last bowl with Manning ahead 77-71 on the aggregate, thanks to a 3 on the 20th End to Trewhella’s rink.

Cutting a long story short, Hyatt, the Dudley Park Diamond, delivered with a drive that smashed up the head, sent the jack back 2 metres and cut it down to 1, Slavich couldn’t make it 2, so it was 77-72 on the board after 83 ends.

Thus, the final rink to finish in near darkness was the heavyweight bout between DT and John Slavich, and the rink result was beyond doubt as DT’s four were up 27-12, but they had to defend those 5 shots on the last end to avoid extra ends, and first time around Blake Butler set it up perfectly for Manning with a trail on the jack, DT put one out of the back in preparation for the drive, and John Slavich duly delivered a huge drive that cleaned out just about every Manning bowl in the head to leave Doubleview 4 up, but DT responded with a bomb and killed the end.

Slavich delivering his drive

Second time around, Manning were holding a couple until Slavich landed another drive and put the View 3 up, DT drew another one close and cut it down to 2, so after a 15 minute head inspection with his brother, in which they seemed to realise that there was no realistic chance they could make 5 or kill the end, John went another drive and cleaned out DT’s bowl to take 3 shots, so in near darkness, Manning won 77-75 to knock Doubleview out in the Prelim for the second year running, with the score being a perfect reversal of Doubleview’s Semi Final, setting up a rematch with South Perth.

I just enjoy that shot of Knotty leaning on Jonesy

Another piece of good news came through that afternoon – The Prelim took so long to play out that in that time, the Saturday 1 Red Ladies were able to defeat North Beach to win the pennant, and drive back to watch the last 4 ends!

L to R: Saffronne Alden, Deb Kalinowsky, Laura Butler, Wendy Dolton, Kaitlin Tyrrell, Suzie Barrow, Sharon Lyster & Trish Hall

Exceptional, and that meant Suzie Barrow, Saff Alden, Kaitlin Tyrrell, Sharon Lyster and Laura Butler all won 2 flags in 1 season.

2 Flags won, 2 to go.

Super Sunday at Thornlie.

After many visits over the years to the lovely grass of Yokine, the Saturday Division 1 Finals would be held on the quick Synthetic greens of Thornlie for the first time, a potential sign of the future with clubs converting from the grass to the Synthetic year by year, and a quick Synthetic would conceivably give South Perth (One of WA’s leading Synthetic clubs) their greatest opportunity to break their top flight pennant drought that stretches back to 1971, after losing 3 Grand Finals in the last 4 years at Yokine.

Or so they thought…

On Sunday morning, the 1 Blue and Premier teams met at Manning just before 9 o’clock and made the great trek down Albany Highway to Thornlie, during which time we were treated to the sight of Blake Butler managing to fit David Downey and Lewis Grigg (Both over 6 foot) into a hatchback.

Somehow David didn’t need to put his feet on the dashboard.

Long story short, we got out to Thornlie (Yours truly hitched a ride with Graham O’Brien), had our roll-ups and play got underway at 10 o’clock, with nary a breath of wind to be felt, and up on C Green we could scarcely believe our start across the board…

On Heldty’s rink (Mark Ellis, Mat Hoskin & myself), we started off the game against Gary Nelson’s rink (Simon Deering, Marc Marinko, Gary Papadopoulos) with a sucker-punch 4 and led 11-2 after 7 ends.

Murray Piggott’s rink (Graham O’Brien, Steve Lambert & Jaxon Butler) were up 10-1 after 7 ends against Brandon Heta’s rink (Cameron Bell, Michael Leed, Nigel Feletti), who had won 14 out of 18 games as skip in Blue North.

Mike Carey’s rink (Greg Hogg, Ron Ker & Adam Macpherson) were up 8-3 after 7 ends against Chris McKenna’s rink (Matt Hensen, Robert Leed & Josh Gilchrist), and it was like that rink was a callback to early 2000s Australian cricket, as Hogg played against Gilchrist.

The only downside was Allan Taylor’s rink trailing 1-13 against Lindsay ‘Prickles’ Thorn (Blair Griffiths, Mark Fredericks, Fred Williamson), which was the only thing keeping Doubleview in it during the early proceedings as we led 30-19 on the aggregate board, but the way the game was going, there was more chance of Tails’ four plugging back shots than Doubleview’s three rinks getting shots on us.

In fact, the most threatening thing for us early in the game was a duck that wandered on to Murray’s rink right as he was about to bowl.

Typical Muz, he still bowled it and drew shot.

As the game wore on, the margin just kept on growing despite that ever present threat of a Doubleview comeback – After 32 ends it was 35-21, after 40 ends 41-27, after 44 ends 50-28, and it was as if we’d completely robbed Doubleview of their voice, like we were Ursula from the Little Mermaid.

During the wind-up that night, Blake Butler mentioned that about halfway through the game he was going to wander up to our green and give us a bit of a rev-up if things were tight….

He checked the aggregate board, saw we were 20+ shots up and realised he didn’t need to say a word.

As the ends kept winding down, the Manning lead was out to 73-47 with 11 ends to play, we were still playing every end like our lives depended on it, and the caviar on the cake on our rink was on the 20th End, after we annoyed ourselves when we dropped a 3 to have our lead cut to 22-10, still a match-winning lead in anyone’s language.

We responded with our best end of the day, landing 6 bowls within 2 feet and nailing a 6 to make it 28-10.

Full stop on the sentence, then on the final end, with the heat off and a chance to enjoy ourselves, Heldty nailed the jack with his last bowl of the season, an appropriate ending for the No.1 skip in Division 1 Blue.

Mark applauding his skip

So we were the first ones off with our 29-10 win, knowing full well the flag was all but won, Murray Piggott’s rink was next off with their score finishing 28-12 after 21 (At one stage they had led 21-3), with Mike Carey’s rink leading 22-7 after 19 ends, and what turned out to be the 80th and final end was Alan Taylor’s 20th End, in which Tails, Shane, Brett and Floppy picked up 4 on the Thorn four and got their final score to 12-21 in Doubleview’s favour, a huge effort by Tails’ rink to even get to double figures considering they were 1-18 down after 11.

But once the aggregate board was updated the lead was 41 with 4 ends to play, and with any mathematical chance wiped out, both teams called it a game, and Manning’s Division 1 Blue Wrecking Crew were officially premiers for 2022-23!

In my head I thought were in for a tough game, given it was the two best teams in 1 Blue, but one advantage that we did have versus Doubleview’s 1 Blue team was that we knew Thornlie’s greens pretty well, given Manning play Thornlie every year in Thursday & Saturday pennants, and we were playing away on a Synthetic pretty much every second week in Blue South (Thornlie, South Perth, Leeming, Kardinya, Safety Bay & Forrestfield), whereas 1 Blue North is almost entirely Grass greens; The View, Ozzy Park, Bassendean, North Perth, Swan, Sorrento, Yokine, Warwick all predominantly play on grass and the exceptions are Cambridge and North Beach.

Ultimately, our tactic of setting short ends paid off as The View just couldn’t adjust as quickly as we did to the quick green, and to quote a scene from Season 3, Episode 10 of Game of Thrones:

While we celebrated the win and had a chat to our opponents, down on A Green it was much more of an arm-wrestle than Saturday afternoon, as Manning and South Perth traded big ends, with South Perth leading after 21 ends thanks to Ross Bresland’s rink holding an early 6 against Will Hyatt’s rink on the TV Rink, the Millers were still up 47-43 after 46 ends, then the scores were brought level at 50 apiece thanks to a 4 to Daniel Trewhella’s rink, and a few minutes later Shane Knott’s rink picked up a 5 on the 13th End against Justin Opie to shoot the Eagles into the lead 56-51.

They would never give it up for the rest of the game.

As the ends progressed, the Eagles’ lead was down to 67-65 with only 12 ends left on the board, after which the rinks started finishing:

Shane Knott’s rink were the first ones off, producing a huge turnaround from Saturday’s defeats with a superb 25-11 rink against Justin Opie’s rink, and I’d say their performance was reflected in Knotty’s attitude, as he took those two big losses on Saturday pretty hard, and instead of moaning about having to play a final on a totally difference surface, the four gents knuckled down on the quicker deck (Which Knotty loves) and produced a huge one when the money was on the table.

DT’s rink were next off, producing another huge 28-18 victory against Glenn Pauling’s rink, even more impressive when I note DT’s crew were down 3-11 after 6 ends, but they responded with an eye for an eye and picked up 21 shots in 5 held ends; 3, 2, 4, 5, 4, all while holding South Perth to 1s, which had DT strutting around the green like Mick Jagger.

Tom Mitchell’s rink were next off, and they had a tough outing against Daniel Brown’s rink, as they trailed 23-10 with a handful of ends to play, but in the context of the aggregate, they pulled back 5 shots in the last 3 ends to make the final score 14-23, leaving the TV rink of Will Hyatt vs Ross Bresland as the last to finish, with Bresland leading 17-9, giving the Eagles an aggregate lead of 76-69 with 4 ends to play.

With everyone trying to simultaneously watch the Premier final and the thrilling 1 White final between Bassendean and Joondalup, the final 4 ends went like this:

– 81st End, Manning held 2 prior to the skips thanks to Scott O’Brien & AJ Heal, Bresland cleaned out second shot with his first bowl, Hyatt responded by putting his first bowl out the back with a heap of South Perth bowls, Bresland under pressure bowled a near perfect bowl to draw shot half a foot from the jack, but with the bowl of the game, Hyatt played with a bit of weight, sat on the second bowl and fell in for shot.

The Dudley Park Diamond shines again

That bowl right there was like a knife through the heart of the Millers, as the lead went to 8 with 3 to play.

– On the 82nd End, AJ got a couple of very friendly wicks off some short bowls from South Perth and landed a resting toucher, which didn’t move despite several efforts, and with the last bowl of the end, Bresland, looking to make 3 or 4 but his shot didn’t drop in time, and Manning held another 1 to lead by 9 with 2 ends to play, and simple logic says 1 shot on the 83rd would mean the game was over, as South Perth needed a 4 or a 5 minimum to have any realistic hope.

– On the 83rd End, Scott O’Brien landed a bowl a foot behind, which was surviving all the way down to the skips, and Bresland this time had to try and kill the end with South Perth having no chance of a big score, Hyatt added another bowl and simply fattened up the target, and going for another drive, Bresland wicked off Hyatt’s bowl, got the jack clean and followed it into the ditch, but it was only 1, so the Grand Final would go to an 84th End, with South Perth needing to win an 8 badge to send it to extra ends.

To quote the 12th Man, “Not an impossible task, but pretty ****in’ close to it.”

On the first attempt at the final end, O’Brien once again held shot and Heal covered it off, forcing Mitch Biglin to kill the end after only 8 bowls, which he did:

The gents went up the southern end, Derek Angell set a longer end, and Manning once again covered the bases as Biglin drew shot 2 feet in front of the jack, which forced South Perth to once again attempt to kill the end, and the first attempted drive from Scott Walker missed everything, leaving it down to Bresland to go it with his first bowl, and he got the jack, but the Millers had finally done their dash as it finished up a foot inside of the boundary line in the ditch, and despite going down 1 shot the Manning boys knew exactly what it meant, and they had gone back-to-back in Premier League!

The rink finished 19-11 the way of South Perth, meaning the final aggregate read Manning 78-71 after 84 ends.

It was the cherry on top of an all-time great day for Manning in claiming the 1 Blue and Premier pennants on the same day, the first club to achieve that since Doubleview achieved it in 2000-01, and we marked the achievement as one proud bunch of pissants:

Who was that turkey with the Eagle head…. oh wait it was me

Throw in the Tuesday Premier League and the Saturday 1 Red pennants, Manning may very well be the first club in the history of Metro WA Pennants to ever win 4 Division 1 pennants in the same season – The club has won 3 in a season, and they did win 3 last year (Tuesday Premier League, Thursday Premier League South & Saturday Premier League), matching something Cockburn achieved in 1987-88 and 1999-00, but we may have just gone into rarified air.

So we cheered, watched the Derby and celebrated until 11:30 that night, signed the flags, Nigel Rees spilled red wine on the 1 Blue flag thanks to Mike Carey bumping him, and we later found out that in our brazen state that a certain Premier player had written “**** South Perth” on the flag, posted it on the ‘internets’, which, after an apology was sent to both Bowls WA and South Perth by the individual in question, was hastily corrected to ‘NO FLUKE South Perth’.

I am not making that up.

I did like Simon Alden’s review of the Premier League Final on Bowls 360, specifically his final line:

“Congratulations Manning, I’m sure you’ll fly that flag with pride at the club.”

After what was written on there, we’ll probably just fly it.

All four Division 1 flags in 2022-23

Women’s Tuesday Premier League:

R.O’Brien, L.Butler, S.Simpson (Reserve), S.Alden, P.Bowden (coach), H.Packer, T.Hastings, S.Hogg, E.Matthews, S.Barrow, S.Lyster, H.Heal and holding the shield are K.Krstic and K.Tyrrell

Women’s Saturday 1st Division Red

L to R: Saffronne Alden, Deb Kalinowsky, Laura Butler, Wendy Dolton, Kaitlin Tyrrell, Suzie Barrow, Sharon Lyster & Trish Hall

Men’s Saturday 1st Division Blue

Back Row: Murray Piggott, Brett Adams, Jaxon Butler, Adam Macpherson, Ron Ker, Mike Carey, Steve Lambert, Allan Taylor, Wayne Heldt, Greg Hogg, Shane Adams (manager)
Front Row: Mark Ellis, Matt Hoskin, Graham O’Brien, J.E Titheradge
Absent: Phil Herbert, as he headed straight to the airport to fly to New Zealand

Men’s Saturday Premier League

Back Row L to R: Nigel Rees, Scott O’Brien, Will Hyatt, Lewis Grigg, Nathan Jones, Tom Mitchell, Miles Kemp, Andy Lill, Shane Knott, Peter Ker, Joe Angel, AJ Heal
Middle: Blake Butler (Manager)
Front Row: Daniel Trewhella, David Downey, Mitchell Walker with the Eagle head
Photo by Bowls WA

All four flags together:

If you look very closely at the far left flag you’ll see that little message for South Perth before it was changed

More flags than the United Nations.

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