TREASURE: Michael Breen was part of the winning Brisbane Pirates in the $25,000 Bowls Premier League.
TREASURE: Michael Breen was part of the winning Brisbane Pirates in the $25,000 Bowls Premier League. Bowls Australia

Schooners off the table for umpires

UMPIRES at Ballina RSL have blacklisted the club's games after a dispute over a schooner of beer.

They say they will officiate at district, zone and state events but refuse to handle club play.

Five male umpires at the club were being paid two schooners each when they were on duty. The bowls committee reduced it to one.

The umpires felt the reduction to one schooner was scant reward for often giving up their own game to look after others and see that they abide by the rules. And policing the by-laws is not an easy job, as there's plenty of them.

One of the RSL umpires pointed out that Ballina's Cherry Street club paid its umpires cash - $15 for officiating at club games.

"I know we are volunteers," he said. "But cutting it back to one schooner is paltry and we regard it as scant appreciation of our worth to the game."


WITHOUT umpires any sport would be a shambles. Most of the other games pay their umpires well, knowing that without them their sport couldn't exist.

But not bowls. Clubs long have been penny-pinching skinflints when it comes to paying umpires. A couple of free drinks is seen to be adequate.

Cutting back to one the two drinks Ballina RSL's five dedicated umpires were being given is miserable in the extreme. Who can blame them for seeing it as lousy appreciation of their contribution to the orderly conduct of play?

The Ballina RSL umpires say they'll still be on hand to work at games other than those conducted by the club. They're not fighting over one drink of beer a day - their action is aimed at their club for its lack of recognition of the umpires' value.

One beer for an afternoon's dedicated work for which umpires have to study hard and give up much of their valuable time would be laughable if it wasn't a blot on our game.


Pirates loot

BRISBANE Pirates, shown the way by Scottish world great Alex Marshall, were magnificent in taking the winners' $25,000 cheque in last week's showpiece televised event, the Bowls Premier League.

Playing on home carpet at Pine Rivers, Brisbane couldn't be faulted. Marshall put down incredible bowls in the final but he had a brilliant foundation from his two team members, the 28-year-old Kelsey Cottrell and the ageless Michael Breen.

The other finalists, Murray Steamers, skipped by Canadian Ryan Bester with Michael Walker and Tiffany Brodie, had their moments but it was the Pirates who made them walk the plank.

Brisbane had clear-cut wins in both sets in the final - a mammoth 9-2 that didn't require playing the last of the five ends; and an equally decisive 6-2.

It was a remarkable comeback after earlier going down to the Murray Steamers in a tiebreak in a play-off of the final four.

The preliminary final against the Melbourne Roys was marked by some of the biggest scoring in the League's eight-year history. After losing the first set 2-7, Brisbane landed an unheard-of 10 from a power play and ran away with the set 13-8.

At the presentation, the medal for the Most Valuable Player of the series went to Ryan Bester.

Sherriff shines

ARON Sherriff, widely regarded as Australia's best bowler, is making his mark at the powerful Helensvale club after shifting there from the south in January.

In the Queensland champion of champions event he won the fours with Mark Casey, Matthew Lucas and Sam White, and the pairs with Brett Wilkie.

He says he's loving the Gold Coast's sunshine but will always have his allegiance with NSW.

He didn't get much sunshine for his latest wins. A wicked thunderstorm made the finals heavy going.

Huge field

THE Victorian Open, that state's largest bowls event, started on Friday and runs until next Friday. And it's not held in Melbourne.

The venue is Shepparton, 180km away from the capital, and it's sponsored by the Shepparton City Council. A recent deal with the council means it will be at that centre for the next three years.

The field this year has attracted 1886 bowlers who are playing at 20 clubs in Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley. Open to men and women in singles, pairs and triples, there's a $50,000 purse.

Delivery methods

WE HEAR a lot about the correct bowls delivery - you know, the way the books tell you is the right way to trundle down a bowl.

Some deliveries need changing, but if Don Bradman had been coached to change what he was doing and adopt the correct way of batting, we might never have heard of him.

World beater Aaron "Disco" Wilson is an incredibly good lawn bowler but his delivery would have coaches scratching their head. And who'd dare to say Alex Marshall doesn't do it the right way?

Like the man said: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Inclusive sport

THE kid in the wheelchair said he wasn't able to participate in sport. It was a revelation to him when Bowls Victoria was invited to take bowls to the Royal Children's Hospital. Seven young patients tried the game for the first time.

Says an onlooker of the event: "It was fantastic to see the huge smiles on their faces as they played and enjoyed the sport of bowls. They would have happily played all night."

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