FLAGGING A NEW ERA: Ballina’s star recruits, from left, Troy Makin, Mick Anderson, David Zorzo, Neil Burgess, John Lang, Richard Latta and Josh Greenhalgh.
FLAGGING A NEW ERA: Ballina’s star recruits, from left, Troy Makin, Mick Anderson, David Zorzo, Neil Burgess, John Lang, Richard Latta and Josh Greenhalgh. DAVID NIELSEN

Ballina's magnificent seven to prove themselves

IT was an opportunity too good to miss - the chance of getting Ballina Bowling Club's so-called 'Magnificent Seven' together in the same place at the same time for a photo.

They are the 'Dream Team' of the local bowls fraternity and their defection from other regional clubs has sparked controversy.

The seven bowlers, Michael Anderson (Byron Bay), Neil Burgess (Lennox Head), Josh Greenhalgh (Lennox Head), Troy Makin (Ocean Shores), Richard Latta (Casino RSM), John Lang (Evans Head) and David Zorzo (Casino RSM) will spearhead Ballina's push to win its first No 1 pennant in 25 years.

But according to Tony Scott, the sports co-ordinator for the Ballina club, they are yet to prove anything.

“Everything looks good on paper, but until you actually start performing it means nothing,” he said.

“It has created controversy among the other clubs, but then again, six months ago people were saying that pennants was a dying game.

“Two clubs (Casino RSM and Evans Head) have had a mortgage on the title for six or seven years and what Ballina has done by recruiting these players is ensure that the 2009 pennant season is going to be a cracker.”

Scott is trying to create a new era of professionalism at the club and said a number of the new recruits had joined Ballina to 're-ignite' their careers.

“Michael Anderson and Neil Burgess come from smaller clubs and once they decided to join Ballina it had a flow-on effect,” Scott said.

“Ballina hasn't won the No 1 pennant in about quarter of a century and now we've had this influx of seven guys who all want to play together and have some success.”

For Burgess, who represented NSW from 1995 until 2000, the decision to leave Lennox Head was rather more straightforward.

“I don't think my leaving caused any animosity with my old club,” he said. “I bought a house in Ballina and it just seemed like a good chance to try something new.

“In terms of pennants, we just wanted to see how it would be if we all got together at one club.”

Burgess' friend and fellow member of the 'Magnificent Seven', Michael Anderson, is getting ready to make his State debut against the ACT.

The 36-year-old will skip a four that also includes Michael Cronin (East Cessnock), Simon Mitchell (Maitland City) and Gerard Beath (Cowra).

Burgess said he was 'absolutely thrilled' with Anderson's selection.

“He's been selected as a NSW State skip and that is a tremendous achievement,” Burgess said.

“I'm sure he will be looking forward to the State series against ACT in a week or so. He must be over the moon.”



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