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Bowls In Focus : January 2010
out loud when the newly formed Brighton Bowls and Tennis Club opened for business in Male Street on a rainy October day in 1881. Prime mover during the club's embryo stage was Sir Thomas Bent, a business luminary of the bay- side precincts, a former State Premier and a man known for getting things done - one of the original fierce determination, had a futuristic vision for bowls in the area. Like so many inner suburban establishments, Ken's beloved Brighton club was suffering a decline in member numbers and had limited parking avail- able for bowlers and guests. But it was situated in a locality where real estate entrepreneurs grappled with the lack of available grounds for new housing developments. The concept, involving an alignment with the neighbouring Dendy Park club, selling off the blue chip land holding in Male Street, and using the funds to create a modern state-of-the-art indoor- outdoor bowls complex on the original Dendy Park Bowls Club site, was an arduous affair. However, come the summer of 2009, following years of working through mountains of bureaucratic red tape and literally hundreds of negotiations with local and state authorities, Ken's brainchild, the Brighton Bowling & Sporting Club, roared into existence at the end of Breen Drive, in historic Dendy Park. The $6 million complex includes an eight-rink indoor carpet green and another four-rink 'inter- national' indoor carpet green that is purpose-built for televised competitions. These greens feature the renowned 'Greengauge' playing carpets, which were installed by Dales Sports Surfaces, who sent their top man out from England to supervise the installation. Several of the world's leading bowlers have al- ready given the greens an unequivocal thumbs-up, with recent visits from World and Commonwealth Games champions Steve Glasson, Kelvin Kerkow, Joyce Lindores, Rob Parrella and Mark Jacobsen - who between them have enough gold medals to float a third world country's national debt - resulting in glowing endorsements. "We'll be keen to entice the producers of televised events to look positively at utilising the venue," Armstrong, the club chairman, said recently. "Bowls Australia, who fund most of the bowls we see on TV, is based in Melbourne; Victorians are renowned as the keenest sporting spectators in the country; and we have the nation's most modern indoor bowls facility right here in Melbourne. "Similarly, the ABC, who produce all Australian televised bowls, is just up the road. "Logically and logistically, it would seem to be the perfect scenario for major indoor events to be hosted here." Alongside the imposing building sits a conven- tional eight-rink turf green, while the space for an- Opens In Melbourne • Left: Brighton stalwart Ken Armstrong gets the project underway in March 2009. • Above: Armstrong with Dales Sports Surfaces (UK) managing director Richard Steadman during the floor installation. • Top: A recent pennant match on the four-rink 'international' indoor green. • Above Right: Bowlers and visitors can refresh at the Parkview Café and Deck all day.