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!