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Bowls In Focus : December 2011
Bowls In Focus 19 Over the past twenty years it had been decreed that the chairperson of our women’s state selection panel must be one of the four VLBA vice presidents, but this all changed a month or so ago. It occurred when Bowls Victoria named a panel of four and there wasn’t an officiating title or badge of office between them as another staid old tradition was committed to dusty memory. Those named were Edith Grinham from Yarraville Footscray, Glenroy’s Jan Hurst, Lorraine Steel from Yallourn and Ivanhoe’s Meredith Norton - all of whom I might add are former state representatives and have at least one state championship title to their credit. And when this group convened its first official meeting Jan Hurst was elected as chairperson, an elevation that sees her as arguably the most powerful woman in Victorian bowls. Accordingly, I ’d like to tell you a little bit about this lady, to whom success is not a stranger. Now it’s quite possible that Jan may not be overjoyed by this story – when I first approached her about penning a profile she was coy and suggested that perhaps some time in the future might be more appropriate. But since then her state team clinched a test series win at Wangaratta, while Jan herself won a gold medal at the inaugural Victorian Open Championships in Shepparton. The timing could not be ‘more appropriate’ than right now. Since cutting her bowling teeth at the Yarraville Footscray club, where she had the good fortune to rub shoulders and compete with great players such as world champions Norma Massey and Judy Nardella, Jan has been involved in four state title wins. Two of them have been triples championships, in 2005 with Gayle and Brooke Edwards and 2009 with Jennifer Salmon and Judy Davey; while in 2008 she partnered husband John to victory in the state mixed pairs final at Burden Park. Her most recent came last month when she joined Corrinne Crouche from Merrylands NSW - as a last-minute substitution for Queensland international Maria Rigby – to win the women’s pairs title at the Victorian Open. But in 2005, as Victorian champions, Jan and the Edwards girls annexed their state win at Hampton when they emerged triumphant in the inaugural Australian Open Championship women’s triples final at Yarraville Footscray. However last season, in perhaps one of her finest achievements, Jan’s role as the driving force who moulded a group of haphazard trundlers at Glenroy into a powerhouse combination, was rewarded when they marched to victory in the metropolitan A1 pennant competition final. It was a recompense for her belief many years ago that the gritty club in the northern suburbs could convert its blue singlet image into a blue ribbon finish. Some people have suggested, somewhat unkindly, that Jan has the propensity to be ruthless in her quest for success – so what if she is? It is seen as an admirable trait if a man does what needs to be done to achieve the desired result, but when a woman demonstrates the same toughness she is labeled as a bitch. Just ask Joyce Lindores who has had similar success with her Clayton side. But those who understand what is needed to succeed recognise and respect these ‘perfumed steamrollers’ and there is no better example than the great Betty Collins, who rose from humble club bowler to the position of world president by combining an iron fist with a velvet glove. But Jan has also experienced a couple of this game’s low points, although she has the strength of character to chuckle about them now. Like the time, when a genuine contender for a regular state berth, she faced up to Geelong West’s Sandra Tillson in the first round of the 2002 Victorian champion of champions at Clayton, where after claiming a single on the first end, she didn’t trouble the scoreboard attendant again. Jan will probably flash her trademark smile and suggest that she ‘played Sandra into form’. As a result the young Geelong West star was picked to represent Victoria in the next national round robin at Glen Waverley and played so well that she gained selection in the national team. Over a 10-year span commencing in 2000, Jan represented the state on 49 occasions, although it could have been many more had it not been for an incident during state squad trials at Newport in 2002, when a state skipper berated her for a poor bowl. Jan was incensed at the mockery and pulled the pin on her state career right there and then. Ironically, the skipper was Lorraine Steel who is a colleague on the selection panel she now chairs. “ We’re over that and have had a good laugh about it,” she says, again flashing that smile and adding that she was recalled to the squad a couple of years later. Asked about her role as chief selector, Jan is candid in offering; “We’ve got a job to do and it isn’t easy making decisions that can hurt people’s feelings and affect their confidence, but I can assure you we have the best interests of Victorian bowls at heart in everything we do. “And I know we will make mistakes, we probably have already, but we’re serious and sincere about our responsibility.” - David Allen Seeking Success • Above: Glenroy’s Jan Hurst – arguably the most powerful woman in Victorian bowls. • Right: Hurst in action during last season’s metropolitan grand final at Essendon. The Perfumed Steamroller