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Bowls In Focus : January 2010
Bowls In Focus 15 ASher man cut his fingers off and threw away his golf plans, little did he know this would be start of what was to be a brilliant bowling career and the birth of a dynasty. As a young man Don, now reverently referred to as Don 'Senior', played off a golf handicap of three and aspired to a professional career. At the time he was working as an apprentice carpenter and the unthinkable happened, he zipped off his small and third finger with an electric saw. But you can't keep a good sportsman down and while the overall effect was to only let out his golf handicap by two shots, the accident did put pay to his aspirations in the sport. But he had one great win at the sport, the heart of the young lady golfer who was to become his wife, the mother of two sporting sons, Don 'Junior' and Greg, and as in all dynasties, the power behind the throne. And Judy Sherman has shared the love of sport with her family, particularly bowls. This is evident in the fact that she and Don Snr were both club presidents at South Bendigo at the same time as well as clinching the district pairs in the same period. In bowls circles Don Sherman's re- cord stands out on its own, as does his out-going personality. Although minus a few fingers on his delivery hand Don joined the South Bendigo club in 1961 and has remained there ever since, chalking up and amazing record on the green and in administration. He has won the club singles championship 17 times, the pairs 12 times and held office in one form or another for 32 years. On the international scene he represented Australia for the first time in 1982 and became Victoria's first Com- monwealth Games bowls gold medallist after combining with Robbie Dobbins, Barry Sharp and Keith Poole to win the fours in Brisbane that year. In 1983 and 1984 he was a member of the triumphant Australian Trans-Tas- man team and in 1985 he played in the World Bowls Series side and won gold in the Pacific Games the same year. He played 320 consecutive test games for Victoria, 160 of them as skip. And at both Australian and state level he has given back to bowls what he gained. Don Snr was a national selector for four years and coach-manager for three, while he served on the Victorian selection panel from 1997 to 2000. But in the Sherman household he had to share the sporting limelight, not that it would worry him, as he likes to talk about the bowls, football, cricket and swimming prowess of the rest of the clan. "How would you like to meet him on the back line," said Don Snr as he spoke of Don Jnr's footy days on the back line for Golden Square. Greg says he played a 'bit of footy and cricket' but took to the bowling green winning the under-35 state sin- gles in 1989. He has won a club singles at Moonee Ponds and has also chalked up three singles crowns at South Ben- digo, which included last season's title. He also played top pennant for Oakleigh in their golden years. In the meantime Don Jnr was qui- etly carving out his bowls reputation in Brisbane chalking up the singles title at Belmont, among other wins and figuring strongly in its pennant side. But around the corner and over the railway line in Bendigo is the true seat of the Sherman dynasty. It's the Bendigo Jack High Bowls Shop, a street-front retail outlet where bowlers can find all their needs. With Greg's wife Anne, a notable swimmer in her competitive days, running the shop, 'the boys' are behind scenes out the back running the nerve centre of the family's Drake's Pride agency and one of the very few official bowls testing tables in Australia. One of the biggest innovations in the sport, 'The Bowler's Arm', is also manu- factured and sold by the Shermans. And it doesn't stop there; the family has also refined the machinery used for biasing bowls and now exports it worldwide. But how did all this happen? The story starts 21 years ago when Don Snr and other Australian players felt the impact of the tighter bowl when the Aus- tralian squad was competing against overseas players. There was next to nothing like them on a local level. South Australia's Geoff Beasley then started importing the narrower Drakes Pride product and recruited Victorian stars Jim Yates and Don Snr to sell them for him. "I sort of kept going," said Don Snr, who ran the business from under his house before turning it into the family enterprise it has now become. And while he is still very much dedicated to the sport and loves nothing more to talk about the positive develop- ments of the bowls manufacturing industry, he has largely handed over the reins to the younger generation. "I used to tell them what to do, now it's 'Dad do this and Dad do that'," mused the doyen of bowls. - Di Gatehouse • Above: Dynasty: Don Junior, Greg and Don Senior prior to a recent pennant outing in Bendigo. • Below: Big Don Sherman in Australian livery prior to his gold medal win at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games. The Sherman Dynasty