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Bowls In Focus : October 2009
10 Bowls In Focus There’s a totally unexpected news narrative being played out in Hawthorn. No, it’s not about Buddy Franklin switching to rugby league. And wrong if you guessed it’s Kylie appearing at Capers cabaret restaurant. This is a Lazarus-like story about a dead club being revived, an amazing tale that bucks the ugly trend in inner-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. And part of the plot involves a community protecting a local resource for little more than aesthetic reasons. Rustic landscape ambience is important, it seems. It’s a feel-good story of the Noughties, the come- back of the Hawthorn Bowling Club. Ironically it’s the often-maligned City of Boroondara that plays a pivotal part in this narrative, but we’ll get to them later. No stage drama begins without introducing the central characters to the audience. The main roles in this operatic piece are HBC chairman Alan Center, bowls secretary Tom Neal and greenkeeper Brett Haintz. There are support roles from the chaps just down the road at Bowlers House and neighbouring club Richmond Union. There’s also a cameo run-on by Archie, but he’s a Staffordshire terrier. In the role of pantomime villain, lurking ominously in the shadows, is the previously mentioned City of Boroondara. But hold off on those boos and hisses, my friends, because this time the baddies may find redemption. In time. Maybe. And to stay with a live entertainment theme, Center uses a juggling analogy to describe the process of bringing together all the disparate re-establishment threads. “T he balls are in the air,” he says. Firstly some background material, text from the prequel play Dead Clubs Society. Hawthorn was once a minefield of bowls, with clubs scattered all over the landscape. It was a time when it was difficult to put a flat-soled shoe down without tripping onto a rink and a game of bowls exploding underfoot. But that was prior to the City of Hawthorn being gobbled up by the giant MCC sporting organisation in the mid-1990s. And MCC also took over Glenferrie Hill as it spread its powerbase. South Hawthorn in An- derson Park rolled off the perch, and then Hawthorn began to wither as membership numbers fell below sur vival levels. At one point in the past HBC boasted lots of Satur- day pennant players. Records are sketchy and memo- ries hazy, but HBC must have had enough members to field six pennant teams at some point - the teams selection board is the hard evidence. But HBC went into a death spiral in the 1990s, with declining membership and rising costs. By 2000 there wasn’t enough members to field a metropolitan pennant side. At about this time, according to club member Damien Sandy, the council recommended a merger Stage Right My Mat My Mat Peter Gerty • Below: We’re back: Hardy reborn Hawthorn members ready themselves for some late-winter social triples action. • Above:The mighty Hawks once boasted six crack pennant sides. • Left: Local mayor William Cleverdon ruled the roost in the club’s formative years. Re-enter
August September 2009