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Bowls In Focus : December 2011
30 Bowls In Focus Iremember when David first rang to tell me the executives of both the RVBA and VLBA had approached him to create a magazine that jointly served Victoria’s men and lady bowlers. We had done business many times before, when he was editor of Packer’s Jack High magazine and prior to that as bowls editor of Murdoch’s ill-fated Sports Weekly, while we also had some other adventures with publications that hit the graveyard, as they so often do and we still live to laugh about it. Actually, David is one of the very few journalists to have been on the payrolls of both media barons and still working in the industry. But I also knew of his background in sporting magazines and his mainstream media experience on Fleet Street in the 1970s, when he was one of the young Turks who revamped the historic and now defunct News Of The World. I had no qualms whatsoever when he offered me jobs as a stringer on the new magazine Bowls In Focus as he is one of the most honest people I know, in fact he’s somewhat old-fashioned in many of his beliefs and clings to such virtues as ‘a man’s word is his bond’ and ‘if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is’. When I asked about the magazine’s title he explained that as it was to replace the men’s Bowls In Victoria and women’s Draw Shot, which he published, the ‘Bowls In’ was from the old RVBA banner and the new product would assume the ‘look’ of the VLBA’s glossy monthly. However, at the end of this month, after eleven years with the combined associations, and 12 years before that as editor of two national bowls publications, he will unplug his keyboard. That’s 23 years of professional experience and knowledge lost to the sport. After a long career as a ‘contributing writer’ to metropolitan newspapers (Herald Sun, Sunday Herald Sun, Sporting Globe and The Age) and even the odd fray with ‘Auntie ABC’, I have learnt to have the salt shaker around when reading ‘official’ bulletins written by those in charge of sporting organisations, but I was delighted when Bowls Victoria boss Peter Hanlon posted his excellent and fitting tribute to David on the association website after the retirement announcement in August. Mr Hanlon wrote: ’Identified broadly as the man behind the best bowls magazine in the world, David has contributed enormously to the promotion and understanding of the game - in its broadest sense. ‘Most significantly, David has enabled bowlers to sit down in their clubs or homes and soak up the stories with which all bowlers identify. To revisit the scenes of triumphs and disasters, to hear the quirky stories and celebrate the unique moments when a bowler or side or club has done something worthy of re-telling. ‘ No matter how isolated, remote, high profile or unknown the club or characters might be, David’s magazines tell their stories’. To which he added: ‘David undertook the challenge of Draw Shot in August 2000, to then perform the first genuine step in unifying the two organisations as editor of Bowls in Focus in July 2004, and establishing it as the pre-eminent bowls magazine of which bowlers have become so justifiably proud’. Bravo Mr Hanlon. One of the many qualities I admire about David Allen is his ability to connect with, and the respect he has for people. He’s a knockabout bloke who is always the life of the party, yet makes everyone believe they are unique and special, because to him they are. The years of experience have given him the ability to be icy cool in a crisis, while like most giants in their field, he makes an extremely demanding occupation appear as if there’s nothing much to it. He will be missed at the helm of this magazine – more than most people will ever understand. No doubt there have been many highlights from his twenty-three years of dispensing news and information to Australia’s bowlers. So here’s just a few. To the obvious ‘Who’s the best Victorian player you’ve seen?’ he is a little coy and says there have been many and most are good friends, but when pushed he offers: ‘Of the men Geoff Sutcliffe is the best singles player of my time and Mark Jacobsen the best skipper, with apologies to Lee Schraner and Billy Cornehls, who have both enjoyed purple patches’, while of the women; ‘since she arrived here from Scotland five years ago Joyce Lindores has been a dominant figure, while Margaret Sumner and Gordana Baric are both incredibly special, and let’s not forget Judy Nardella’s great career Founder’s Farewell In this final edition of Bowls In Focus under the stewardship of its founder and editor David Allen, one of Australia’s most respected sports writers DI GATEHOUSE reflects on a stellar career and how his departure will be... The End Of An Era • Former national singles champion and Australian representative Geoff Sutcliffe from Numurkah. • Daylesford’s Joyce Mitchell with VLBA president Margaret Radford after winning the state singles in 2004. • Retiring editor David Allen created this magazine in 2004.