Bowling On by Tony Jensen – 3rd April

April usually sees champion of champion events each week but with these events having been run off earlier there is little else other than club open tournaments for the rest of the season.
The exception is the Centre Open pairs to be played from 13-15 April but I gather there are not a large number of entries. With club news non existent or not being passed on I am making this my final column for the season. I am not going to trundle through an almanack of the season but will share a few highlights as I saw it or personally enjoyed.
• First in the order of highlights was the sight of two Northern women Anna Davis and Mere Freyer contesting semi-finals of the National singles at Paritutu in New Plymouth. Both contested admirably and an ounce of luck here and a slide there could have seen them both in the final.
• Not far behind were the efforts of Palmerston North and Northern in winning the National Second Division Interclub for men and women respectively. The second Division is far more strongly contested than first division as many clubs see themselves as only cannon fodder in the higher echelon. Palmerston North is arguably the oldest team to win a National title with Trevor Butcher, Colin Cherri, Rex Stokes, Brian Grammer and John Pene all long serving members of the National Superannuation club and Paul Rowe starting to knock on the door. The only relative youngster is singles player Dean Gilshnan who marked his coming of age as an outdoor bowler winning his five matches. John Pene at 81 would be right up there amongst the oldest to win a national title.
• The performance of Manawatu’s mens team in finishing second at the national intercentre was very meritorious and they were but one shot from possible victory. They proved to themselves that Auckland greens need hold no fears for them.
• Two champion of champion victories that gave me delight were the tiny Shannon club’s Women’s triple and of course Lyn Jensen of Johnston Park (and the other half of my bed) in the singles.
• With the absence of centre open events I found myself playing a lot more open tournaments. The more I play the more I enjoy them and the one that gave me particular delight was my first foray into Palmerston North’s Golden Oldies.
So those are some season highlights as I saw them.
Easter saw Northern’s very popular three day triples held and it proved to be yet another highly organised and hotly contested event. It is a very good format with 20 of the 32 teams taking home prizemoney. In the top division final Terry Curtis skipped the two Rossiters Terry and Liz to victory over Neil Gordon, Brian Henn and Lynlea Rogers. “Scruff” Gordon showed his legendary toughness by dragging his team out of a 13-3 grave to get back to 15-16 only for Curtis to kill the end after the final bell.
One of the real features was the number of local bowlers who took the opportunity to play a tournament with players from other clubs and there were at least a dozen such combinations. Mike Hodge from Terrace End had his parents from Whangarei join him for the tournament which must be pretty special for those involved.
And my bowler of the season? A deadheat between Reg Webb from Te Kawau and Dennis Richards from Masterton. It’s not for their on green performances but the phenomenal way they support the game by entering tournaments. I see more of Dennis than most of my clubmates and Reg’s name seem to be in every tournament. Those types are the real ones who keep the game healthy.