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Bowls In Focus : December 2009
Bowls In Focus 35 It was our Show day and for 130 consecutive years our little village has been holding its annual Agricultural Show, one of the few remaining in small rural towns. It's a hectic time and many months of preparation goes into keeping it running. In a small village everyone contributes something, and most of the bowling club members are involved in setting up marquees, laying out the show jumping course, erecting pens for animals and ensuring the toilets are in working order. Winning awards at the local show is a hotly contested business. For years farmer has been pitted against farmer for 'Best' Ram, Crop, Ewe or Fleece. Gardeners have vied for the best Rose, Pumpkin, Iris or Fuchsia, while cooks have slaved over hot stoves in an attempt to produce prize-winning Chutneys, Jams, Biscuits and of course the best Cream Sponge. With all this hard-boiled competition to worry about, not much else matters and that includes playing bowls. The selectors have a tough time finding players to fill teams. Then there is Saturday itself, where most club members are involved in last-minute show operations and have to scurry down to the bowling green and get changed just in time for roll up. Our mental preparation falls well short of Minty's rigorous expectations. Particularly when we are due to play those bellicose coots from Central, who have arrived early, stolen the prime shady parking spots with their bus and taken advantage of the new practise rule. "Arrogant goats," is how Wal likes to refer to Central, and anyone else who happen to upset him. Central arrived so early Wal wasn't even able to tie his faithful blue heeler Frenchy to the gate post in order to give them a ferocious welcome. Mind you, Frenchy hasn't been slouching around. A litters of pups in the animal nursery at the show with a Labrador mother all bore Frenchy's distinctive forehead marking, as do many of the dogs around town. Central were primed and at their most fierce. They jumped us early on all rinks and never looked back. The fact that many of our blokes spent a good deal of the time on their phone checking on how their show entries were faring in the judging didn't help either. Jack was pleased to win the blue sash for Best Ram, but disappointed to be runner up with his pen of Ewes. The ladies had show commitments as well. They had been at the clubhouse very early to set tables and prepare sandwiches, which had been left in the fridge. "The men can serve themselves," they sneered. None of them wanted to miss out on the judging in the show pavilion, particularly for the awarding of the ribbon for Best Cream Sponge, which had been known to result in some undignified behaviour in the past. By afternoon tea Central were well and truly ahead and they were enjoying it immensely. Cockily offering to play left-handed or sit out a couple of ends, which only got on our goat in general and Wal's in particular. When we came in for beer, tea and sandwiches, we discovered Milligan already seated. He had put out the plates of sandwiches ensuring he had a large number of tomato filled ones in front of him and was just having his first sip of a beer. Central's wild Scotsman Hamish McLeod, with his strong Scottish brogue and furious temper to match his flaming red hair, had a very feisty relationship with our Milligan. Many times they had nearly come to blows on the green over the years, but today thankfully they had been drawn to play on separate rinks. As Hamish was squeezing past Milligan, who was washing down a mouthful of sandwich with beer, he just happened to stumble into the big fellow, knocking his drinking arm. It caused an almighty gush of beer to be spilt down Milligan's 'once were whites', which, combined with the tomato pulp that had already made its way onto his shirt front became an ugly mess. Hamish uttered feint apologies as Jack and I just managed to restrain the stained and dishevelled Milligan. For the formalities our president Vince had to stand in for manager Minty, because Minty had to duck off to the showgrounds to pick up the four prized miniature goats he had on display. Vince was polite but as there were no ladies to thank Central remained seated. Minty returned just in time for the resumption of play, which was punctuated by the sound of braying goats wanting freedom from their trailer in the car park. Late in the afternoon Milligan disappeared from the green for what seemed a lengthy toilet break. He returned to complaints from the opposition, which he ignored with a sly grin.Thankfully the visitors didn't hang around long after the game. But from the car park came an unholy row, and there was much yelling and cursing followed by goats braying loudly. Milligan broke into a fit of laughter. Goats, which he had earlier locked in Central's bus, were now running amok on Wal's turf. Minty ran from the clubhouse desperate to catch his prize-winners; Central accelerated away desperate to get their bus home, cleaned and repaired; while Wal followed Minty cursing and screaming "Useless flaming goats, get off!" There's a lot of excitement around town for Milligan and his motley mates in this latest yarn from the pen of 'bush bowling bard' Doug Maconachie. . . www.riverinabowls.com.au where champions shop Lawn bowls wear and accessories 529 High St, Echuca VIC 3564 p. 03 5482 1388 email@example.com or visit www.riverinabowls.com.au Biggest range of coloured bowls wear! We buy and trade second hand bowls Beginners Packs - EVERYTHING NEW! Coloured Lawn Bowls, Bag, Shirt, Pants, Socks, Shoes & Hat all for $600! Thoughts are useless unless followed by actions Illustration by Rod Marget Cripes, it's Show Day and we've got Central!