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Bowls In Focus : January 2010
It was touted as compulsive and compelling, the hottest flat green animal act in town, but a big question still remains unanswered: Is the elite metropolitan pennant competition... Premier or People v Premier Division. The charge: assault and grievous bodily harm. All the evidence has been heard and the jury is out deliberating its verdict. Wait, the jury foreman is leading them back - will it be a conviction? Have the prosecutors proved their case beyond reasonable doubt? Let’s revisit the evidence heard during the past few years. T here’s a celebrity trial currently facing the judge in the Victorian Court of Public Opinion: it’s the The 10-team elite pennant competition of metropolitan bowls now has existed for more than a decade and we seem no closer to resolving the trial indictment: Premier Division is charged with hurting the game of bowls. When PD was conceived in the late 1990s its proud parents voiced massive aspirations for their child. The RVBA anticipated the competition would offer the high-quality play that would attract wider media attention and push bowls further up the sports pecking order. There was a belief, whether held by the officers at Bowlers House or not, that PD was the gem that would draw in television networks. As a journalist at Australia’s highest circulation newspaper I was told that Melbourne bowls now had a product that would definitely whet the appetite of the Herald Sun sports editor. No it did not. Why? The other plan for PD was that the constant weekly hard-edged competition between the 10 best teams in town would greatly improve the standard of Melbourne’s players, and the spin-off being a stronger Victorian state side that would stand tall against powerhouses New South Wales and Queensland. Has it? There is precious little evidence to suggest the RVBA has hit the target on either of their lofty multimedia ambitions. Except for the Sunday Age coverage, there is almost no newspaper profile for PD at all. And can anyone tell me of a PD game they have Precarious? watched from the comfort of their lounge room? The detractors of PD are well armed with evidence real and anecdotal. PD has bred a culture of mercenary players, they cry. PD has undermined club loyalty, they exclaim, with bowlers walking out on a whim. PD is destroying smaller clubs who find and nurture youngsters who are then lured away by the glamour of elite-level trundling, they suggest. They bang on about how the quality of Division 1 and Division 2 bowls is poor and it’s PD’s fault. Worst of all, they insist, the unsportsmanlike behaviour (cheering bowls, running down the green, high-five celebrations) were infecting the lower ranks and ruining the genteel game at all levels. Are they correct? Naturally, much of this anti-PD evidence is ill- informed envy. Most of the vehement opponents of PD have never played at that level, and many have never seen a single end. Their vocal assaults smack of jealousy: there are some 153 metro clubs and only 10 can be part of PD. But some of their assertions can’t be denied. There is no doubt that the arrival of PD has resulted in an acceleration in player movement. Let’s look at Bundoora as an example. In 2005 the Bunnies won the PD title. Four years later they were relegated with not many of that championship-winning outfit still wearing the club colours. No club can afford to lose players of the ilk of Nick McIntyre, Lee Schraner and Adam Galloway and expect to remain a contender in PD. Former Australian coach Cameron Curtis, who played PD with Caulfield Park earlier this century, doesn’t believe it has helped lift the Big V. “I don’t think it’s had the impact like it has in NSW. I don’t believe the Victorian side has benefited in any way. The state side was in a better and stronger position 5-10 years ago. “I believe the fact that Victoria can’t get away from the so-called tradition of four-rink, 25-end matches and the laughable afternoon tea break is really hold- My Mat “The one thing I felt when I had a few months of PD a few years ago for Caulfield Park is that the front ends of most PD clubs in Victoria are much weaker than what you’d get in NSW Premier League. “You want the cream of the crop, the best of the best playing PD. You must be very tough to make the top side of a PD club,” Curtis said. Curtis said PD would improve if it had teams of 12, playing 21 ends, with no break for tea and sangers. “Obviously it’s a MUST, at least in the top few grades, to get rid of the afternoon tea break. The changes in scores and momentum before and after this break is often massive and once again the guys have to get into the habit of playing straight through and concentrate fully for 21 tough ends.” He also believed PD has to rid itself of the Saturday-based schedule. “It could be improved by clubs having more choices of when they play matches. More Friday and Saturday night fixtures would help, thereby playing in more varying conditions of green speed, lights etc. “It might help getting more atmosphere and sup- porters by not playing most PD matches when every other male bowler is busy playing pennant,” Curtis said. Schraner, now a club pro at Division 1 contender Brighton, believed the 18-game PD season is too long. “PD season should be shortened to nine games and played at a different time of year to the normal pennant,” he said. Schraner said PD had lifted the Victorian stan- dards, but the loyalty of players was questionable. Another to question player movement was Clayton P e t e r G ing it back from large improvement. “By keeping the four rinks for a start, you ha more of the state players who would play lead or second for Victoria having to play third or skip for their PD club. FOR ALL YOUR BOWLING NEEDS SUPPLIERS OF ALL MAJOR BRANDS: HENSELITE TAYLORS DRAKES PRIDE GREENMASTER DOMINO CATHEAD AND MANY MORE DEMO BOWLS AVAILABLE TO TRY BEFORE YOU BUY TRADING HOURS Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.00pm Sat 9.00am-12.00 noon (August-May) SHOP 4, 152 BELLARINE HWY NEWCOMB VIC 3219 (cnr Coppards Road) Ph.03 5248 0856 Fax 035248 1526