Bowling On – 27 Nov.

I expected reaction last week to my provocative column but the surprising thing is most all reaction has come from non bowlers and other organisations and sports.

The general tenet has been that the comments in regards to bowls in the Manawatu can equally be applied in many other sports and other organisations such as service clubs when using the sames
introspection.

Several bowlers have contacted me and all were in agreement with the diagnosis. Is it too late to change? I believe it is as changes need to be so radical that the rank and file of the game would not countenance the quantum shifts needed.

Anyway enough of that and back to the current season’s happenings. Two divisions of Manawatu interclub have been completed and as expected Northern are the women’s Division Two champions and will proceed to regional finals. Bulls rattled home with 14 points but with 18 points in total were still five adrift of Northern when the last round finished prematurely.

In men’s division three Palmerston North A didn’t need to complete the final round either and on 22 points were well clear of Himatangi Beach and Northern with 16 apiece.

It’s a lay week for interclub again this weekend before all other divisions complete three rounds on Saturday 7 December and with the division one teams at home there will effectively be a round robin Manawatu competition. With 18 points there for the taking on the day I wouldn’t discount any Club including Palmerston North which currently languishes eight points behind Northern. A clean sweep first up and it could be all on.

Each season Men’s division two provides the closest competition and it is very much that way again. Palmerston North’s two sides, Johnston Park and Ashhurst/Bulls are always in the mix but this year it is Takaro that is in front by a clear four points. In the first two rounds they meet Palmerston North B and Johnston Park A so their destiny will be dictated by their own performance. I won’t nominate any winners as I’m sick of eating humble pie whenever I do!

The final division to be decided is The Any Gender fourth and that looks as though Shannon or Dannevirke will prevail.

• I’ve entered the Men’s Open Pairs the Centre is running from 2 January 2014 and I have to say I have often thought there was a good opportunity for Manawatu to run an open event at this time. I’m looking forward to it.

• This paper publishing a file photo of Chris Barrett last week with the late Laurie Gordon alongside and it was a poignant reminder of what bowls lost last season with the untimely deaths of Gordon, Bob Williams and Fran Frith who were all aged in their mid sixties. Sure there were other bowlers who passed on but the comparative youth and outstanding abilities of this trio made the losses felt so much more.

Tony Jensen

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Bowling On – 21 November

As we near the halfway mark for the Bowling season it is an appropriate time to review the health of the game.

After a thorough examination including CT scan, ultra-sound, Xray and MRI I am afraid Dr Tony has no option but to conclude “Terminally ill” and little chance of surviving another 20 years. If you don’t believe me here are some numbers. The Ladies will please forgive me for dealing only with men’s playing numbers but when I pulled out the 1990-91 season handbook it was a reminder that Apartheid was removed in South Africa before our two genders could see their way clear to work together in bowls.

That book told me that at that time 1992 men played the game in the Manawatu  compared to the 542 who do so today. In fact the 1450 that have disappeared represent nearly three times those who remain in the game. I hunted out the 1996-97 handbook next (still in the era of Bowls version of Apartheid) to see there were 1594 playing then so the decline had commenced but there were still more than a thousand more in the game than today. It doesn’t surprise me that the decline started in this period as New Zealand changed forever with the advent in 1990 of almost unrestricted weekend shopping.

For you information membership by club in 1990-91 and today follows. I have bracketed clubs that have amalgamated and placed an asterisk beside those that are defunct;

Ashhurst       38        12
Bulls              43        29
Dannevirke  197        29
Feilding)
Oroua   )       242       69
Foxton  )
Foxton Bch)  194       28
Hokowhitu    172       33
Himatangi       –          21
Kairanga        24*
Kimbolton      32        17
Manawatu      98*
Northern      195        52
Pahiatua         90        11
Palm Nth      213       110
Shannon        70        18
Takaro          135       38
Te Kawau       36          9
Terrace End  154        49
Woodville       59         17

TOTAL.          1992      542

The figures speak for themselves thus my health assessment is pretty accurate.  Among the reasons for the change are;

1. The game takes too long
2. Weekend Shopping
3. The game takes too long
4. Weekend work
5. The game takes too long
6. Change in our ethnicity
7. The game takes too long
8. Poor administration at all levels
9. The game takes too long
10. The game does not lend itself to TV.

And by the way the game takes too long! The “taking too long” has many forms. For instance the Centre Open Singles were played on 12 and 13 October 2013 and then the final was held over. Here we are at the end of November and it still hasn’t been played. Imagine a game of League going to Golden Boot and you hold that part over for six weeks. Or you play the US Open and hold the playoff over and don’t bother setting a date.

Tournaments take too long in both length of game and duration. There is little or no restriction on time wasting and that aspect is demonstrably worse than it was 20 years ago. “Posers” will wander nonchalantly to the head, walk round it three times, walk halfway back to the mat, return for one more lap of the head then go back and play a nothing shot. All the while their team mates are close to comatose from boredom.

Two other aspects of the game that many people find unattractive are smoking on the green and drinking during play. Imagine Richie McCaw imploring his troops to greater effort with a fag hanging out his mouth or in the dressing room having a pint at halftime! For mine it’s not an attractive part of the sport and how many has it put off the game? Perhaps we need to ask those 1450 who no longer play.

I know this column sounds very negative but the facts don’t lie. No doubt there’ll be a few knives waiting for my back if I get back on the green sometime.

TONY JENSEN

Bowling On

Bowling On

The furrowed brow I witnessed on the face of Manawatu Representative Bowls selector Terry Puklowski’s face on Sunday was very likely caused by the news that Palmerston North men were unable to win a game in division one interclub last Saturday.

Palmerston North usually provide half the Manawatu men’s team and with the annual Arnott Duckett event against Taranaki and Wanganui being played on Saturday 15 November the form of players competing at this level is vital and there are no events being played this coming weekend that will provide the necessary level of competition. Hopefully the adage that class is permanent and form is temporary will apply. The teams for the tournament are: Senior (green) Singles, Brian Looker; Pairs, Stephen Love (s) and Graeme Cooley; Fours Pat Horgan (s), Mark Noble, Darryl Johnson and Dean Gilshnan; (white) Singles Chris Barrett, Pairs Barry Wynks and Scotty McGavin; Fours Brian Little, Steve Toms, Grant Davis and Terry Rossiter: (development) Mike Hodge, Keith Hughes, Colin Cherri, Graham Black, Mike Abraham, Harry Mills, Chance Haussman and Eion McIntosh.

After day one of interclub there are five clubs even on eight points being Northern, Terrace End, Aramaho, Durie Hill and Wanganui East followed by Takaro, Marton and Wanganui on four and Palmerston North failing to worry the scorers. There are five rounds to go of course and anything could happen yet but I suspect we will see a few more surprises.

After making an ageist jibe at the Palmerston North women in this column last week they took the remark right to heart and came out blazing to lead the women’s competition on nine points, closely followed by Northern and Wanganui East on eight, Johnston Park six, Laird Park five while Marton, Terrace End and Wanganui are all on four each. A tight looking competition. When the Palmerston North ladies bake me a humble pie please remember my favourite flavour is mince and cheese!

• No results have been provided for division two interclub which also proceeds to a National title but I have to say I have a large bouquet and an equally sized brickbat for Palmerston North which hosted the men’s event. A bouquet for producing two greens of absolutely outstanding quality and I don’t believe I have ever played on a better surface than what we struck. The “greenkeeper” is the most maligned person in bowls and it is always his fault when someone plays poorly. Well we got a bath from Northern in one game but the rink was superb. Ken Murray has no peer in his profession.

The brickbat was the club’s failure to provide markers for the singles which was a poor show. If they had a problem the time to resolve it was the night before and not leave it to chance on the morning. The information sheet that went to clubs on 15th October was very clear in the requirement for four markers. Not much to ask of a club of 159 members. I suspect we won’t encounter the problem at the smaller clubs who pride themselves on their hospitality.

• Philip Skoglund jnr is unavailable for the Manawatu team currently but is in great form all the same. At the weekend he made the final of the prestigious North East Valley singles only to bow to Ali Forsyth the dual NZ singles champion 25-16 after a slow start. In such form he will be useful later in the season.

• Events that hold a real mystique for us mere males are the women’s galas which always seem to draw big fields and are great money spinners for the clubs. The cross club support they receive is a lesson for us all. Galas coming up are Terrace End 18 November, Ashhurst 27 November and Johnston Park 9th December.

Good bowling

TONY JENSEN