A forum where people can express their opinions on the game and what they love about the game that no other sport can offer.

Archive for August, 2015

Interview with Jane Bush

NS What got you first interested in taking up the game?
Having arrived from the UK in 2002 and playing Crown Green Bowls for 30 years I had no choice but to give Flat a go as you don’t play Crown in Australia. When you are a Crown Green Bowler you call this Flat in the UK it just differentiates the two games.
NS – Who were the positive role models in those early months while you were learning the game?

The most positive role model I ever come across was Karen Murphy. Not only a superb bowler but very nice person both on and off the green she really encouraged me to carry on and learn all I could about the game. I went to a presentation day at Noosa Heads and the Australian Team played and then we had dinner with them. She talked to me for ages and I learned so much from her.

NS Who was there supporting your deeds on the green?

Even though they live in the UK definitely my Mum (deceased) and my Brother Richard. I used to phone Mum every week and let her know how I was going and forward a copy of the bowler to her for her and my brother to read and of course to get all the latest Crown Green News. I spent a lot of time travelling to Tewantin Noosa for training with Rick Dixon. He was 1 of the best coaches around at the time and was also working with a young girl called Kelsey Cottrell lol the rest is history there. Ian Schuback then joined Noosa and became my Coach and has helped me ever since.
NS – How often do you get time during the week to play? Is it more working your bowls around work or the other way around?

As often as I like really. We were very lucky to be in a position to semi retire when we came to Australia so we based work around bowls. I train more than I play and only volunteer at the local pet rescue centre now so lots of time to get on the greens.

NS – What sort of bowls do you use at the moment and what sort of bowls have you had in the past (if any)

I use Edge Factor and have used Edge bowls for many years. I am very lucky to be sponsored by them and although I have been offered other sponsorship would never change as long as they still want me!! I use a 4 heavy and I am able to do that as I still have my Crown grip. I cant get out of that grip just ask Shoey!!!!
NS – What did your friends and family say when you started taking up the game?

The UK bowlers laughed and said I would hate it after playing Crown for such a long time. But the Australian club level flat is far different from the UK. A lot younger crowd and far more difficult to play on the fast greens. The bowlers play more often and are very good and I wasn’t very good and got the bug immediately. If I play a sport I am very competitive and I want to achieve the best I can and so set out to be a much better bowler with the help of Rick.

NS – Have you played representative bowls and if so who for and tell me a bit what it felt like to be selected for the team?

Yes I have been fortunate enough to play for Qld on quite a few occasions. The first time I played second for Carmen Anderson and we won the Australian Sides. When that letter arrived I shed a tear as I couldn’t believe I had made it. The last time I was selected I played skip and felt so very privileged this time I was shocked when I opened the letter as the state seemed to be concentrating on the younger bowlers and I thought I would be waiting until I was 60 lol. To be awarded the role of Skip for your State is a position very few are afforded and I was so proud. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I put a lot of hard work into my bowls with training etc. And then when you start to achieve good wins as a result of that hard work its nice for your state to recognise it with selection.

NS – What position do you usually play? Although when I started bowling I led I very soon had to move up to Skip as I joined a small club. I now mainly Skip. I love to lead if I get asked it makes a refreshing change.
NS – Do you enter in as many tournaments as you can, or are you restricted by work/family/home life etc?

I enter the ones as close to home as possible due to the cost of travel. However I have a few on the calendar like Moama and St Johns Park that I wouldn’t miss so save up for them each year. We are lucky on the sunshine Coast. With our lovely weather and lots of active clubs we can bowl every day if we choose to. We also have a strong ladies District and we have District Comps and District Challenge matches so they keep us busy as well.
NS – What club do you play for and have you played for anyone else in the past?

I play for Club Kawana a very dynamic club full of top players and coaches close to where I live our nickname is the Thunder and our fantastic supporters certainly keep that name going. In the past I have played for Noosa Heads and Pacific Paradise.
NS – Have you met anyone on the green that you’ve made a lifelong friendship from and on the other side is bowls a place where enemies can be made easily do you think?

I have met many people who I know will be life long friends and from all over Australia. Facebook is a wonderful tool for keeping in touch with them. Yes of course enemies can made in bowls but isn’t that life? The tall poppy syndrome exists in a lot of clubs unfortunately and instead of being happy for the success of the individuals and the recognition it brings to the club, members can be jealous and hold a grudge. Hope fully that is only a small minority and in general most players support and enjoy each others achievements.

NS – Who is the best bowler you have seen or played against?

Ryan Bester amazes me with his skill I have played against him and enjoyed watching him.
NS – What areas do you see bowls moving forward in over the next 5-20 years?

I think the age 40 to 60 needs to be nurtured. There are some fantastic bowlers sitting in this age gap that are just waiting for an opportunity at representative level etc. Its great to see so many youngsters in the game and we have worked hard to make this happen over the past few years but I think the other end now needs to grow so that clubs can survive.
NS – Do you enjoy watching the game or do you prefer playing it?

Of course playing is my passion, but I can sit and watch a good game anyday of the week. I love it. I used to be glued to the BBC TV on a Saturday what a shame it finished!

NS – Have you managed any pennant sides over the years?

Yes I have managed Div 1 men’s pennant and also helped with selection of that team. Although it was enjoyable it doesn’t give you time to really watch all of a game as you are up and down every five minutes either doing the score board dishing out lollies or gopher for the drinks lol. Thoroughly enjoyed it though.

NS – What is the single biggest reason you play the sport?

I play this sport because it is addictive. You think you’ve mastered it and play like a champion then you go out and get flogged and play like a novice and its back to the drawing board I don’t think ill ever tire of it. Thanks for the chat 🙂

Interview with Melissa Witts

11666069_10207460297572278_34860063543589687_nGood morning everyone today I have with me a bowler you probably haven’t heard of in Melissa Witts. She’s a new bowler who has only taken up the game in the last 12 months. What got   you first interested in taking up the game?

Missy – My dad already played bowls & it was a good friends 40th birthday party at Penrith Bowling Club where we played barefoot bowls that got me keen, I liked the challenge.

NS – Who were the positive role models in those early months while you were learning the game? Who was there supporting your deeds on the green?

Missy – My coach Lance Winsor for teaching me the game, our woman’s Club President Mearle Gollan for encouraging me to join the ladies, and many other bowlers along the way are always very supportive. Especially my mum and dad who have been amazing.

NS – How often do you get time during the week to play? Is it more working your bowls around work or the other way around?

Missy – I try to play around 3 or 4 times a week at the least.. I’m currently not working full time so I have a lot more time during the week to play.
It isn’t easy though when pennant season comes along and so does full time work. Paying the bills usually wins & I end up missing out on my favourite hobby!

NS – What sort of bowls do you use at the moment and what sort of bowls have you had in the past (if any)

Missy – I use Henselite Dreamline XG’s. I tried a variety when I first joined PWBC but I had already grown a bond with the XG’s!
I have only ever purchased the one set I own.

NS – What did your friends and family say when you started taking up the game?

Missy – They were all confused to begin with but at the same time supportive, it’s not something I ever thought myself I’d ever do.

NS – Have you played representative bowls and if so who for and tell me a bit what it felt like to be selected for the team?

Missy – No I haven’t, not yet anyway, it is a goal  .. For the 12months I have been bowling, I am happy with my achievements.

NS – What position do you usually play?

Missy- Third in pennants

NS – Do you enter in as many tournaments as you can, or are you restricted by work/family/home life etc?

Missy – I try to enter tournaments at other clubs every couple of months.

NS – What club do you play for and have you played for anyone else in the past?

Missy – I play for Penrith Woman’s Bowling Club & have only ever played for Penrith.

NS – Have you met anyone on the green that you’ve made a lifelong friendship from and on the other side is bowls a place where enemies can be made easily do you think?

Missy – I like to think everyone I’ve met through bowls is a lifetime friend. It is just as easy to make enemies though if u let it happen. There is a lot of politics in every sport, just have to learn to ignore them

NS – As you have probably been aware over the last couple of weeks there has been the Adam Goodes affair. Do you think race still plays a part in sport and in particular bowls?

Missy – No not at all, my best friend is aboriginal and she also plays lawn bowls at Penrith & she makes friends within the club just as easily as anyone else.

NS – Who is the best bowler you have seen or played against?

Missy – I’d have to say either Ron Pittaway or Carl Healey.

Thank you Mel for your time and lets hope we see your bowls continue to improve over the coming months and years !

Interview with Pamela Bryant

11903280_10203316252986497_1561378955_n

NS – Hi Pamela it’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to do this interview with you. As you know you’re the ——- person that I’m going to speak too about all things bowls. What got you first interested in taking up the game?

PB – Watching the sport being played at Corowa B. C. through a cyclone wire fence when I was supposed to be on a “Winery Tour”. Forget the wine….I was mesmerised and stood there for several hours over a few days! I was pretty OK at hand/eye co-ord. so I thought this sport would suit me. I didn’t count on it being so difficult to be accepted by a Club, any Club in fact, as a single female. (I needed a husband, father or brother to nominate me as an affiliate.) It took another 5 years and many knockbacks, before someone was willing to take me on. That Club was Elsternwick Park B. C. There were only 2 other single females there, a retired School Teacher and a 78 yr old former BHP Nurse, neither had married and had snuck their way in. All the Clubs that knocked me back in the 70’s (and there were more than 10!) closed or amalgamated in the 80’s and 90’s.

NS – Who were the positive role models in those early months while you were learning the game? Who was there supporting your deeds on the green?

PB – Frank Bleasby was my first coach…..he was also the greenkeeper and had a keen interest in protecting his greens so I got a lot of lessons, heavily supervised. Funny thing was, when he explained “you put this finger here and this finger there, etc.” he never had those fingers (his sister had chopped them off with an axe when he was a child). Lindsay Ackland also took an interest and his keen eye often got me back on track. Arnold O’Brien & Ted Radford also had an input. Peter Bellis’s book with Mark de Lacy topped it off, as did the John Snell book.

I drew inspiration from Gordon Langdon (what I read about him) John Snell, Mavis Meadowcroft, Peter Bellis, Daphne Shaw, Marion Stevens and Dot King. There were many others along the way. Karen Murphy was the first of a new breed and what a difference she has made to the game! A fresh face, Tiffany Brodie is perched to be the impetus of another new breed of bowler, a young girl who may reap the benefit of “equality” seemingly present, in the junior ranks. One to watch!

NS – How often do you get time during the week to play? Is it more working your bowls around work or the other way around?

PB – Bowls is amazing in that it is a sport that people quite willingly sacrifice pay, holidays and family for. I used holidays and Long Service Leave to play Pennant, I swapped Full time for Part time work and I know that I was only one of many women to do so. Many blokes also put their jobs aside for a time for a “crack” at the game. Unfortunately Bowls doesn’t pay and sooner or later it’s back to the job, the footy club and family. The game and the friendships that come from bowls are addictive and lasting. Until 5 years ago I’d never had a non bowling holiday. Mind you, I’ve never left my bowls at home since….just in case.
I like to practice twice a week and play at least 3 days a week.

NS – What sort of bowls do you use at the moment and what sort of bowls have you had in the past (if any)

PB – I’ve had ‘em all really………but the standout for me is the Henselite Dreamline XG. I think the Drakes International and the Greenmaster Premier were good in their day. I’ve seen the disasters….they still make me shudder, but they just keep coming.

NS – What did your friends and family say when you started taking up the game? Were they supportive/confused/happy that you were still being active going into later life?

PB – Friends and family were very supportive, I guess they’d seen me fail, at swimming, tennis, running, softball, well everything really. When I started 36 years ago it was more a case of “why are you playing with all those oldies and wearing that ridiculous dress and hat”!

NS – Have you played representative bowls and if so who for and tell me a bit what it felt like to be selected for the team? It must’ve been an awesome experience knowing people respected your ability on the green?

PB – I did represent Victoria in the Armed Bowling Squad for 2 years. I’ve always said “There is no greater thrill than winning as part of a Side” That feeling, for me, was best felt however, when I skipped in 2 Metro Pennant final wins for my club Edithvale. The first was against Bundoora and as luck would have it, I was a last minute inclusion……as a Skip. I skipped that team to a 26 shot win (I think) and the Side won by 40+. There will never be anything to top that! Ooops…unless, that is, if I get back in the Armed Squad when I’m ready to trial again. Big Holiday going on for now tho’! I miss those guys and wish them well in Adelaide in September.

NS – What position do you usually play?

PB – Came up the good old fashioned way….Lead for 10 yrs. I didn’t spend much time as a Second but have had many years as a Third and Skip. I agree with the late Glyn Bosisto who said something like “A Skip doesn’t have to be the best player; just able to get best out of every player” (I’m assuming he included himself in that scenario, as a player)”. A skip’s job is to encourage, support and lift the team’s morale……..no matter what the situation! Getting the best out of your team is paramount…it’s a team game. Even if you are “crying on the inside”…..never let it show, even to your team mates. Every team has a “game changing” bowl in their kit, as to who plays it, when and on what day is never a known, up front. Having a “Star on the Day” IS always ON, and you never know who it might be, cover your bases, if it’s not one of yours. Ha!

NS – Do you enter in as many tournaments as you can, or are you restricted by work/family/home life etc?

PB – I’m a bit of a “let down” here as I do not enter, nor introduce our new bowlers, to that once wonderful and sort after invitation to a “Ladies or Mixed Day Out”. Instead I became a Web Editor and builder of our 3 Club Websites (Sporting Pulse, IMG STG and Facebook/Twitter), a story teller and profiler of other players at TBN, and owner of a site dedicated to my family genealogy. This was taking up about 30 hrs a week! I off loaded the current Club site, but that gap was soon filled by other endeavours. Can’t help myself!
(Anecdote: I’d just won the Auburn Masters Singles, was a Div 1 Skip and had the gall to ring a Club to ask if I could enter a team in their Div 1 Only Invitation Day.
I was told it was “invite only” and asked so “who are you?” Reluctantly they let us in, and we won! In those days (the 1990’s & early 2000’s) these days were so popular someone had to die for you to take their place!
I feel there is a new generation that may re-discover the joy of team play at other venues, and I hope to take that on board now. I’m now among bowlers of roughly my own age and I want them to have the same fun I had at these tournaments a generation ago. Let’s hope so, Pennant is not EVERYTHING!

NS – Whats your opinion on the state of the game in your area and in general? Also do you hold any position of power at your club?

PB – I’m horrified at what has happened over the years in Metro Vic. in terms of letting women play a worthwhile sport on Saturday’s, and the finger of blame has been very much pointed at the wrong person/body! The only person/body where blame belongs is, with the Body. I well remember being told “you only work part time not full time…so you can’t play on Saturday’s”! Saturday’s became “Mickey Mouse”, those “working” girls had no chance of getting up a solid comp. Indeed they were doomed to fail. In any other sport, women could play competitively on a Saturday, in Cricket, Tennis and yes, even Golf…..why not so in bowls?
I am a current Coach, former Umpire and Board member. I have been Chair of Match and on both the Saturday and Midweek Selection Committees. I did our Newsletter for a couple of years and our websites for 8 years.
NS – What club do you play for and have you played for anyone else in the past?
I’m Edithvale through and through, but started out at Elsternwick Park B. C. (indeed in 1991, I got married on Rink 5 there following Saturday Pennant and changed my name from Bryan to Bryant!) I joined Chelsea when I moved further down the Bay, as my best friend Judith Thacker was President there. 8 Chelsea ladies (including Judith & myself) transferred to Edithvale in the mid 90’s and I have never looked back.

NS – Have you met anyone on the green that you’ve made a lifelong friendship from and on the other side is bowls a place where enemies can be made easily do you think?

PB – I’ve never been the easiest person to get along with……but I do try “VERY HARD” to not let that happen. Everyone is different and everyone has issues of one sort or another, I’m not immune. That’s where BOWLS can make a difference! We (bowlers) generally do care for each other, engage all members and actively encourage those that might not find their niche elsewhere. It’s a wonderful to walk around the suburb you live in and know so many.
As for friends, I’ve met and had some wonderful friend’s over the years. I’ve had many BEST friends, but mind you, they were in their 60’s when I joined them in 1979-80 season and I doubt they will be reading this. (Happy 100th Roy Pedder!)
NS – Do you think there is sexism in bowls?

Sad to say “Never more than Now!” When you see Metro Midweek Pennant Divisional Finalist’s as all male sides and some Clubs with not 1 female skip Tues/Sat, you have to wonder “Where are the women?” I worked from age 12 in a Milk Bar, and from 16 as a Public Servant. Why did I not have the same opportunities (as a female) in bowls that I enjoyed as a Public Servant? Love to know the attrition rate for middle aged women.
Thanks Nathan, I think you are doing a wonderful job!

Interview with Sam Clough

1010566_10200502558705196_1147605850_n

NS – Welcome to all my fans on Bowls Discussions Matter. Today I have with me Sam Clough. Sam as most of you know is an avid use of Facebook and he provides a lot of us bowlers with information about the sport. He is also a former NSW State Player, NSW State Selector for half a decade including four as Chairman and an Australian Selector for five years. What got you first interested in taking up the game?

SC – Natural progression from cricket which is also a team/individual sport.

NS – Who were the positive role models in those early months while you were learning the game?

SC- A man by the name of Barney Morris who was the President National Park Bowling Club and Caretaker of the Newcastle building where I worked.

NS – Who was there supporting your deeds on the green?

SC – Beryl who is my wife has been a wonderful supporter over the years as well as the club members of the clubs I’ve played at.

NS – How often do you get time during the week to play? Is it more working your bowls around work or the other way around?

SC – When I was working I usually started very early in the morning which was around 4am to allow me to play in the big tournaments. I’m extremely grateful for the time work has given me to excel at bowls.

NS – What sort of bowls do you use at the moment and what sort of bowls have you had in the past (if any)?

SC – Originally I owned a set of Size 7 Henselites, but now I use the SLIGHLTY smaller Size 3 Greenmaster (laughs). Can you believe there used to be Size 7’s!

NS – What did your friends and family say when you started taking up the game? Were they supportive/confused/happy that you were still being active going into later life?

SC – Some thought I should have continued my Cricket Umpiring or still played cricket but when I showed a bit of talent, most were pleased for me.

NS – Have you played representative bowls and if so who for and tell me a bit what it felt like to be selected for the team? It must’ve been an awesome experience knowing people respected your ability on the green?

SC – State selection is a big buzz but seeing young people you select, assist, semi-mentor go from strength to strength is a wonderful feeling for an old bowler like me and to be honest it gives me more satisfaction. As for seeing one’s country win 5 Gold and 2 Silver Medals from just 8 World Bowls (something which may never be emulated).

NS – What position do you usually play?

SC – Skip in pennants. Don’t care as long as happy team. “NO I IN TEAM BUT THERE ARE 2 IN IDIOT” I’m sure you haven’t heard that saying before Nathan.

NS – What’s your opinion on the state of the game in your area and in general?

SC – My Club East Cessnock is strong financially and won State No 1 Pennants in 2008 and 2010. However, we have now lost a stack of players recently and our high standard will be seriously diminished in 2016 I suspect.

NS – Do you hold any position of power at your club?

SC – I have been a Patron of my Club since 1987.

NS – What club do you play for and have you played for anyone else in the past?

SC – I have played for East Cessnock since 1977 with a contract with Maitland City from 1994 to the end of 1996.

NS – Have you met anyone on the green that youve made a lifelong friendship from and on the other side is bowls a place where enemies can be made easily do you think?

SC – I have friends aged from 8 to 100. But I do think that being a selector is a good way to lose a friend if that’s what your implying.

NS – As you have probably been aware over the last couple of weeks there has been the Adam Goodes affair. Do you think race still plays a part in sport and in particular bowls?

SC – Nathan, I am on the side of Adam Goodes’s problem NOT being racist. In my life I can easily remember Billy Boston, Vince Karalius, Mike Sullivan and Brian McTigue (all English Rugby League players), Wally Lewis, Anthony Mundine, Bob Fulton, Rick Stuart, Terry Lamb, Michael Ennis, Daly Cherry-Evans, Rodney Marsh, the whole English cricket team all my lifetime, WI fast bowler Griffith, +++++++++ all seemed to thrive on the “ordeal”. I’ve beened booed playing cricket – bowled a bit quicker.

NS – Who is the best bowler youve ever played with/against?

SC Former Australian Skip and Coach Clarrie Watkins (lucky enough to play lead for him and share Gold Medal Australian Fours and Bronze Australian Pairs.
However, many others spring to mind,
Singles: Bob King, Rob Parrella, Dennis Dalton, Frank Soars.
Later: Kelvin Kerkow, Leif Selby, Mark Casey and Brett Wilkie. Oh, and Aron Sherriff and Steve Glasson managed to blunder in to accuracy quite regularly.
I managed to beat Aron on four occasions; unfortunately two occasions were when I was playing with him.
Rex Johnston has been a friend since 1976; a wonderful player, particularly with two bowls.
Dot Roche was without peer as a lady bowler – wins over many men including David Bryant and Rob Parrella.
: Jono Davis, Ellen Ryan and Chloe Stewart could have great careers.
Thanks Nathan.

NS – Thank you Sam on the wonderful chat I do hope the bowling fraternity enjoys a little insight into your bowling career!

Interview with Former Jackaroo Mark Strochnetter

10629659_614880508630693_5749389508646056598_n

Hello everyone we are back again talking to a fellow bowler. And this time we are very privileged to spend some time with a former Australian Representative in Mark Strochnetter. We have had quite a few Mark’s so far I’m sure you all realize by now.

NS – What got you into the game in the first place? Was it a family connection?

MS – I Started in 1988/89 after my dad started the year before. My older brother also started in ’88/89, then mum started in ’90. We Used to watch it on TV during mid/late 80’s. I Played other sports too so bowls was just another sport.

NS – Was there an influential person or persons that got you motivated to consider it as a full time sport?

MS – Started at the club in small county town/village which was at the back of the local pub (only 16 members at one stage), and we knew most of the other members already which helped. Most didn’t mind us playing at young age (I was 11) and were supportive.

NS – Do you get enough time during the week to practice?

MS – I only train 2 or 3 times thru the week now if possible, I rarely play comps midweek now. Family and work have taken precedence over the last number of years.

NS – What bowls do you use right now and tell me a bit about the sets you’ve used over the years?

MS – I currently use Drakes Pride Conquest and have used Drakes bowls for all but about 6 of the 26 or so years I have played. 1st 5 years were old Henselite 4 3/4 super grips and half a year with ABT 2000’s in about 2002.

NS – Been the brunt of many jokes by your mates over the years?

MS – Obviously my family were supportive of me taking up bowls, as we all started playing around the same time. I used to get the odd silly comment from friends but generally they were good about it, especially when I started to achieve a few things. A couple of school friends even started to play.

NS – Now I mentioned briefly in the intro that you have played for Australia. If you wouldn’t mind mate tell our readers what was it like for you playing at the top level?

MS – My first taste of representative bowls was at the Australian Junior Champs at South Tweed in 1995. Back then we had to win our State Junior event to play in the Nationals and I was lucky enough to play singles and ended up playing in the 4’s too as someone couldn’t make the trip. My first senior rep team was in the Northern Tasmanian team in 1995/96 onwards until I was first picked in the Tasmanian side in early 1998. I made the Australian Under 25’s from 2000-2003 and then the senior Australian squad in 2003, playing a test series against Wales. I never really had ambitions to play rep bowls, I just got lucky that I had a bit of natural ability and that the right people noticed I suppose. Saying that, I couldn’t have been happier or prouder to have been considered good enough to make any of the rep sides that I have or still do over all these years.

NS – What position do you often play in mate?

MS – I usually play Skip, having done so in Div 1 pennant since 1995, and for the Tasmanians since about 2001, with the odd series as third.

NS – Been able to play in many Grand Prix events and the big money tournaments in the last couple of years?

MS – I used to enter all off the BA Aus Opens and Grand Prix series until a few years ago and most of my local Tasmanian events, but not anymore as I have a family and also work commitments.

NS – Where do you see the game of bowls heading in this country?

MS – Locally, I think bowls has both some positive and negative points about it. On the positive, we are moving towards an “open gender” status for pennant, where clubs are able to select their best sides regardless of gender. It had not been universally supported in Tasmania but at this stage it is more of a minority that is against it. On the negative side, participation levels have been declining a little (open gender will hopefully steady/change this) but this is probably due in part to factors like longer working hours, financial pressures etc.

NS – Be in charge of any club’s state of affairs over your time where to do with bowls or the management of the club ?

MS – I have only acted as a Selector/Chairman of Selectors but I have done it over a number of years.

NS – How many clubs have you been associated with over the years mate?

MS – I have been a member of the Longford Bowls Club (just outside Launceston) for about 14-15 years, and also play for the Essendon Bowls Club (3rd season coming up) in the Victorian Metro Premier League. Previous clubs have been Lilydale (1st club), Launceston and 1 season at The Hills (Baulkham Hills) in Sydney’s Premier League in 2004.

NS – Made many friends over the journey and on the flip side have you made any bitter enemies on the green?

MS – I have made plenty of good friends over the years from playing bowls, both locally and interstate. The sport has also created a few opportunities for me too, like my job of 20 years which a fellow member at a previous club helped me get, and I have also had a small business selling bowls gear for about 13 years. Like any sport, I am sure (I know) there are people out there that dislike each other, but personally I would say I have only come across a couple of people in my time that I don’t get along with. There are probably more people out there that don’t like me though, but it’s not something that I lose sleep over!

NS – As I’m sure you know Mark the Adam Goodes controversy has been a massive issue in the AFL recently. DO youy see the game of bowls leading the way in tackling racial discrimination?

MS – Racial discrimination may play a small part in sport still, but I am sure it would just be a small minority that behave in that manor. I can’t say I have noticed that much in the bowls scene, but I am sure there is a little bit at times, just like in society in general.

NS – Tell our readers before you go mate what it was like to represent Australia in the U25’s and then the senior side?

MS – I was pretty chuffed when I was selected for the Aus U25’s squad, and then the team to go to England/Scotland after my first lot of trials. It was also a pleasant surprise to be named in the senior squad as soon as I finished in the U25’s and to play a Test, but I generally don’t get too exited, nervous or intimidated by things so I was pretty level-headed about my opportunities. My only real regret about my Senior appearance was that I was quite ill for the 2 weeks leading into the Test and had hardly been out of bed, let alone training appropriately. I discussed with the coach the possibility of pulling out but persisted and tried my best. I didn’t perform like I know I could/should have and the pouring rain didn’t help!

Interview with Dean Taylor

11855430_10153146569667635_2080072302_n

NS – Hi Dean it’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to do this interview with you. For those who don’t know Dean Taylor here’s a little bit about him. He plays at Singleton RSL Bowls Club which is situated in Zone 6. Last year he managed to win the State Rookie Singles, which was a marvellous effort in itself. What got you first interested in taking up the game?

DT – My old man after spending 9months nagging me to come down and give social bowls a try. (i was skeptical to say the least)

Then i got there and was terrible and the competitive instinct kicked in.

NS – Who were the positive role models in those early months while you were learning the game? Who was there supporting your deeds on the green?DT – Role model is a hard word i don’t think there really was any although ny father did put in plenty of time and arguments helping me grasp finer points. As i went on a few of the better skippers were more then willing to share advice and answer millions of questions.
NS – How often do you get time during the week to play? Is it more working your bowls around work or the other way around?

DT- i have been pretty fortunate for the majority of my bowls as work was very flexible giving me plenty of practice at least 2x per week, and still try keep at least once a week practice since championships have finished for the year.
NS – What sort of bowls do you use at the moment and what sort of bowls have you had in the past (if any)

I have had a few sets trying to find what im happy with im currently using Aero Turbo-Pro best bowls i have ever had beyond happy with them.

I won the State rookies using Green master XV-1 before that i had Premiers until i realised i didn’t like bowls with Dimples hahaha

NS – What did your friends and family say when you started taking up the game? Were they supportive/confused/happy that you were still being active going into later life?

DT- everyone has always been very supportive alot of friends were surprised but never seemed to be overly phased either way.
NS – Have you played representative bowls and if so who for and tell me a bit what it felt like to be selected for the team? It must’ve been an awesome experience knowing people respected your ability on the green?

DT- Im yet to play rep bowls. Who knows what the future holds
NS – What position do you usually play?

DT- im very comfortable playing anywhere needed, this year in Pennants i played Lead and Second
NS – Do you enter in as many tournaments as you can, or are you restricted by work/family/home life etc?

DT- i like to play a fair bit with the old man but because we play for smaller clubs its very hard to build a competitive team for the bigger tournaments although i personally love that challenge of playing against someone im expected to lose against.
NS – What’s your opinion on the state of the game in your area and in general? Also do you hold any position of power at your club?

DT- Im not holding a position of any power and im quite comfortable with that.

As for the state of bowls in our area.(hope you have time Nathan)

I think the biggest dilemma is in my opinion is the bigger well funded clubs being able to Pay pennant player’s (note i don’t have a problem with this) the problem is that the smaller clubs cant be competitive with that, i would like to see a way for smaller clubs to attract those bowlers and or retain them to be competitive at a higher level.
NS – What club do you play for and have you played for anyone else in the past?

DT- Im currently playing for Singleton RSL BC

I came over from Singleton BC at the end of last yr wanting to play higher grade bowls.
NS – Have you met anyone on the green that you’ve made a lifelong friendship from and on the other side is bowls a place where enemies can be made easily do you think?

DT- Yeah i think there are people i will be friends with for a very long time and have met a fair few people that drive me crazy on the green. just have to take the good with the bad

NS – As you have probably been aware over the last couple of weeks there has been the Adam Goodes affair. Do you think race still plays a part in sport and in particular bowls?

DT- very touchy subject there Nathan.

Im personally 100% against racism.

I believe Racism is something thats taught and it comes down to a parent to teach children the right way early on, personally im not a Afl fan so im a little fogging on all the details but to me if you get booed as an elite level sportsman that not racism that passionate fans

If there is more to it the that Adam Goodes may need some help because if he gets emotionally afftected by someone a fan yells its not really leading by example expected of an athlete

But hey what do i know ri

Interview with National Training Centre coach Mark Cowan.

Hello everyone welcome to another instalment of BDM. Today I was very fortunate to catch up with Mark Cowan who is one of Bowls Australia’s National Training Centre’s coaches. Great to catch up with you mark. So tell me, what got you first intrigued by the genial game of bowls?

MC-  I was 24 and playing cricket at the time. Our team didn’t make the finals and went to an “apprentice” night (now called barefoot bowls) at my brothers bowls club. Loved it and never went back to cricket. That was 33 years ago and one of the very few young ones back then.

NS – Have you had anyone over the years that has been a significant influence on your career as a bowler?

My brother was the first person that really supported me and he has the whole way through. Along the way I have had great mentors at different clubs I have been at including someone like Bryce Stewart at state level.

NS – How often do you get time to practise nowadays?

MC – working in the bowls environment 5/6 days a week doesn’t allow for much practice nowadays but still enjoy getting out on Saturdays for pennant.

NS- What set of bowls are you currently using at the moment mark, and tell me about the sets you’ve used over the years?

MC – I have always been a henselite man and currently use dreamline xg’s size 3. ABT2000 and Classic 2’s before that.

NS – Any light hearted banter directed at you by your friends and family since taking up the sport?

MC – many of my friends were surprised that I gave away cricket. It’s funny but quite a few of them now play bowls after stirring me early on. Family functions see my brother and I sit in a corner and talk bowls all night.

NS – Over your career did you ever manage to get selected for any state representative games?

MC – I was lucky to play 232 games for Victoria over 11 years and enjoyed every minute of it. I was extremely proud to wear the Big V with so many talented bowlers.

NS – What position did you play?

MC – I have always skipped at a local level but played mainly as a third at state level.

NS- Now that you have a family and work commitments do you ever find enough time to play any big events?

MC – tournament play is a thing of the past with me now due to work and family commitments. I get to play one tournament a year at my local club whereby our rink is a family affair – my daughter, my brother and his son which is fantastic.

NS – How do you see the game developing in it’s entirety?

MC – there has been a lot of tinkering with the game in general over the past few years and I am not sure if it’s for the better. I have just finished a 6 year stint as a board member of my club and have been a selector for the past year (and survived!!)

NS – tell me a bit about what clubs you have played for over the years.

MC – I play for Sunbury BC in Victoria and have for the past 15 years. Before that I played for Altona, Keilor, Moonee Ponds, Flem-Ken and Footscray City.

NS – Is bowls one of those sports where friends can be easily found?

MC – I think bowls is a terrific sport to make lifelong friends and I have many that range from 30 years ago through to interstate opponents to international officials I umpire with. Hopefully there are not too many enemies out there. Life is too short to hold a grudge.

NS – Do you think racial tensions exist within the game?

MC – I do think race is still a problem in some sports around the world but I like to think bowls is a very welcoming sport and with people from 9 to 90 playing it hopefully it breaks down a few of the barriers.

NS – what pushed you towards coaching elite level players?

MC – after getting so much out of bowls I decided I wanted to put something back in. So after my playing days were finished I decided to coach the Victorian u25 side and have been a coach ever since. I take great pleasure as the Vic/Tas NTC coach in bringing on our youth as part of the National high performance team.

NS – now I’m sure you cant name just one player but who do you see as the best player in your eyes?

MC – tough question as there have been so many good players over the years. No doubt Mark Jacobsen was the best player I played with. And against I would have to say Steve Anderson, Rex Johnson and Adam Jeffrey were all tough to get close to let alone beat. For the future I think a young Victorian by the name of Josh Corless will play for Australia. He is as good at converting a head as Mark Casey was at the same age.

NS – for those who don’t know you look after both Victorian and tasmanias juniors. Is it a difficult balancing act?

MC – no doubt looking after so many of the good players from both states has its problems especially giving some quality time to the Tasmanians but watching them achieve their goals is a very rewarding experience and a very enjoyable job.

Thanks for the interview Mark !

Interview with Peter Stockham

NS – Welcome to all my fans to Bowls Discussions Matter. Today I have with me Peter Stockham. Peter as most of you know is an avid user of Facebook and he provides a lot for us bowlers with information about the sport. What got you first interested in taking up the game?

I first got interested because I have a twin brother David who at the moment is an Australian selector and he started a couple of years before me and I wanted to play with him and my Dad.

NS – Who were the positive role models in those early months while you were learning the game? Who was there supporting your deeds on the green? NS – How often do you get time during the week to play? Is it more working your bowls around work or the other way around?

Well I guess it was my brother and father

NS – What sort of bowls do you use at the moment and what sort of bowls have you had in the past (if any)

At the moment I’m using Saylor SRV’s, though in the past I have used Henselite, Drakes and Green master

NS – What did your friends and family say when you started taking up the game? Were they supportive/confused/happy that you were still being active going into later life?

NO everyone was supportive, as I had played sport Soccer, League up until I started bowls

NS – Have you played representative bowls and if so who for and tell me a bit what it felt like to be selected for the team? It must’ve been an awesome experience knowing people respected your ability on the green?

I have played rep bowls, District for the old Parramatta District, Zone 10 and 14 and for NSW.

When I was first selected for NSW was just awesome, I thought I might have been selected a year or 2 earlier than I was. But when I did get picked I ended up playing State for 4 years

NS – What position do you usually play?

I normally play Skip but will always play where selected

NS – Do you enter in as many tournaments as you can, or are you restricted by work/family/home life etc?

I don’t enter as many as I used to these days but restricted to mainly weekends now with work

NS – Whats your opinion on the state of the game in your area and in general? Also do you hold any position of power at your club?

Up until recently I thought the game was going along OK but I am concerned with the upcoming changes to State Pennants in NSW, seems like the powers that be a looking after the strong city clubs and not so much the country areas.

No I don’t hold a position at the club as I’m employed by the Westport Club in Port Macquarie as their Bowls Relations Officer and assist the bowls clubs with all the stuff.

NS – What club do you play for and have you played for anyone else in the past?

I play now for The Westport Club but in the past have played at Merrylands, Toongabbie that’s where I Started, Wenty Leagues, Rosehill and Carlingford and spent 1 year at Cabramatta in the early nineties. I have also played as a marquee player for Mount Lewis.

NS – Have you met anyone on the green that you’ve made a lifelong friendship from and on the other side is bowls a place where enemies can be made easily do you think?

I have met a lot of guys in all the time I have been playing 33 years that I have played with and against from early on that I get on well with, to mention a name Dennis Harmer who plays at Merrylands is one of the best. As to enemies, I don’t think so some guys go on a bit stupid but each to their own.

NS – As you have probably been aware over the last couple of weeks there has been the Adam Goodes affair. Do you think race still plays a part in sport and in particular bowls?

I think race to a small degree does but everyone I come against I treat the same and I don’t really worry too much about people if there that small minded

NS – Who is the best bowler you’ve ever played with/against?

This is a tough question as I have played with some great players, probably 2 that come to mind and there is more than 2 but Adam Jeffery from ACT and Steve Anderson both great players with 2 bowls.

Thanks Peter for the chat, it was great talking to you about the game and why you are so passionate about the sport.

Interview with Mark Dickinson

Mark Dickinson

Mark Dickinson

Hi Mark! It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to do this interview with you. As you know last week I started my blog Bowls Discussions Matter and I’m glad you could find time to chat to me. The positive response I received on Social Media was wonderful and hopefully we can have a chat about your life in the sport.

NS – What got you first interested in taking up the game?

MD – I was playing golf one mid-week afternoon back on the Central Coast of NSW and after the round we went into the clubhouse for a couple of quiet beers. Instead of sitting in a dark corner we chose to sit by a window overlooking a bowling green, where a social game was in progress. I said to the mates, “geez this looks simpler than golf, the worst that can happen is a bowl falls off the green – no searching bushes and ponds to recover the ball”; we laughed. I said to the others, “I wonder how you get into this game”, so on the way out of the club I asked the lass on reception, she gave me the coach’s number and said when he passes me on my skills I am allowed to play. I called him up, learnt every Saturday morning and boom, now I am a bowler (albeit kinda average).

NS – Who were the positive role models in those early months while you were learning the game? Who was there supporting your deeds on the green? I guess my coach would be the answer to that, I recall his name was Ron but apologies that I have forgotten his surname, as this goes back to the mid-90’s. I chose to take up bowls by myself and had no support other than the people I met at the club.

NS – How often do you get time during the week to play? Is it more working your bowls around work or the other way around?

MD – I practice at least one day a week in off-season and a bit more during pennant. I play at least one social game of bowls a week and Saturday pennant through summer in Tasmania.

NS – What sort of bowls do you use at the moment and what sort of bowls have you had in the past (if any)

MD – I use and love Aero Dynamics! I have had them since Aeros opened for business, which means just over three years and would not consider changing at the moment. Given I had almost nine years of bowls (returned in 2012), prior to the Dynamics I had ABT2000 back in NSW; and the only other set I had was the Maestros, size five I was given by my coach when I started to learn the game. I only used them a short time until I got the ABT’s. I still have all three sets to this day.

NS – What did your friends and family say when you started taking up the game? Were they supportive/confused/happy that you were still being active going into later life?

MD – My friends and family continually stirred me up about taking on an “old mans” sport, but my response to them was this – 1: By the time you get old I will already be good at the game, and 2: by being in a bowls club young I can see what I potentially will be when I get old! All up though, no one ever suggested I was stupid in taking it up, and often they would come and check out a game or two I was playing in.

NS – Have you played representative bowls and if so who for and tell me a bit what it felt like to be selected for the team? It mustve been an awesome experience knowing people respected your ability on the green?

MD – I never took it too seriously in the early part back in NSW, but a crew of us played in different events and it was there I got noticed and was picked to play in what was then termed ‘academy’ bowls. It was a squad that trained and travelled together, for those bowlers too old to be considered juniors, but young enough to think there was some chance to be developed. A good concept at the time and today the advancements for development in the sport is fantastic. And yes nice to be noticed in the game for sure

NS – What position do you usually play?

MD – These days the third position is my most favoured, it keeps me involved in the head and also the thought process with the skip. It allows me to play different shots and also with the right skip, allows me the ability to suggest shots for them. I am always happy to lead, as that is what I did for years back in NSW. Nothing better than a solid lead drawing the first bowl to a jack and putting pressure onto the opponent from the get-go… So with that said, my favourite format is crossover pairs, where I play lead and have a mate beside me where we combine as a team – it gives me the chance to play my two favourite positions all day!

NS – Do you enter in as many tournaments as you can, or are you restricted by work/family/home life etc?

MD – I play as many local bowls carnivals as possible, as well as a couple of bigger events that I travel to within Tasmania. Given I am located on the east coast of Tasmania, I am more restricted by distance and season than anything else. Our pennant season here runs pretty much right through summer, so that takes up most of my bowls time.

NS – What’s your opinion on the state of the game in your area and in general? Also do you hold any position of power at your club?

MD – The state of the game in the area I live is really positive; as we have a synthetic green and can play twelve months of the year. The local club plays in two different competitions; the regional east coast pennant as well as the Launceston-based competition. I think the state of the game itself is really progressive and the development of juniors, different formats and encouraging community involvement augurs well for the sport into the future. Bowls Australia has some fantastic initiatives available through electronic media, training courses, development of the sport and events that should see the sport prosper in the years ahead. This being said, it also means that CLUBS have to work with BA and their state bodies to embrace changes and continue to progress with the times. The clubs in danger of not surviving are those that ignore these initiatives and get left behind by those clubs being run as ‘businesses’, and by people (and committees) that wish to see the game move into the 21st century! I have just completed a year as president at the local club after serving on the committee for the two prior; in those two years I worked on match committee and implemented a sub-committee we called ‘community and development’; this was working with community groups and the local school to encourage greater participation in the sport. We have seen huge growth and awareness from what was achieved for the club and membership is reflective of that. We raised sponsorship for resources through grants, and this was supported by our Regional Bowls Manager (employed by BA), of whom we have an excellent working relationship with.

NS – What club do you play for and have you played for anyone else in the past?

MD – Ahh interesting question there! I am in the transition stage as we speak… I have been playing for, and on the committee of my local club at St Helens (Tasmania) the last three years since returning to the sport, although I will be moving to North Launceston BC in the upcoming season (commencing October), of which I am really excited for the move and the new challenge ahead. Prior to my break from the sport, I was at Cygnet BC (Southern Tasmania) on my arrival to the state back in 2003, and prior to that I learnt and played lawn bowls on the Central Coast of NSW at Everglades Country Club…

NS – Have you met anyone on the green that you’ve made a lifelong friendship from, and on the other side is bowls a place where enemies can be made easily do you think?

MD – I guess given my time off from the game and the move of states that was difficult, but in returning to bowls in the last three years it has definitely been so fantastic to meet the people I have, especially through working with juniors in the sport. This has led to many friendships which I hope will be life-long and a couple of best mates I reckon that will be around till the end for sure! As for the enemies side of the question, my answer to that after a year as a President is pretty simple; YES. The petty politics and bullshit from people is incredible. Maybe the small town syndrome, I don’t know. I have had issues with members that have taken it to a personal level and have found it to be so bad with a couple of them I have decided to move to a club two hours away. The ‘one bad apple…’ scenario is rife in bowls clubs I believe, we will leave it at that I think…

NS – Do you think there is sexism in bowls? Yes; and this is generally speaking by the way.

MD – I guess given the demographic of the sport, that it is more of the ‘older generation’, then like a lot of things, society is changing and some will move with the times and others won’t. We play ‘open’ (non-gender specific) pennant in northern (as well as southern) Tasmania, which has caused some concern amongst members, but overall and with time the format is continuing to be accepted and embraced by the majority, and I hope in time the sport will be better for making it as inclusive as it has done in the last five years particularly…