REJECTION of his bowls membership because he refuses to pay a capitation fee to the Royal NSW Bowling Association has brought strong criticism of the system from an Alstonville bowler.
Ray Johnstone says it's a clear example of why fewer bowlers are remaining with the sport - he gave the number of Alstonville bowlers re-registering with the RNSWBA this year as being down 21.
"The Royal is no longer seen by many as an affiliate body in the true sense of the word but acts only as a rule-making authority hell-bent on retaining its finance base by issuing threatening and unworthy circulars," Johnstone said.
A RNSWBA circular advised clubs that if they introduced a category of social bowling member to avoid registration they were liable to have their state affiliation discontinued.
Johnstone said this was merely to bluff the clubs into rejecting any thoughts of introducing a category of social bowler.
"The Royal is obviously aware that some clubs with a bit of backbone and an eye to the future have successfully introduced that category of bowler and the Royal has taken no disciplinary action," he said.
Johnstone claims to have had legal advice that the men's club's decision not to have him as a member because of his action was unlawful 'based generally on the offer and acceptance rule'. The club had offered him unconditional membership renewal for the season, he had accepted and paid the appropriate men's club fee. He was issued with a card stating he was a financial member of the men's club for this financial year.
"It appears the only procedure for the club rescinding my membership is to proceed with disciplinary action which I would strongly oppose," Johnstone said.
OPINION: A right Royal bluff
IF THE Royal is there to give bowlers what they want, it should take a long, hard think about accepting a category of social bowler - there's a growing groundswell of anger against the present system.
The bone of contention is the $46 the RNSWBA grabs out of every bowler's club membership. Social bowlers who don't play association pennants or major championships regard this as an unfair impost, particularly as it leaves their club with next to nothing when clubs are struggling to survive.
The Royal - seeing a monetary bonanza being lost - has long fought against clubs taking matters into their own hands and not registering their social bowlers. Regardless, clubs all around NSW have ignored the state body's demands. Some have been threatened with state de-registration.
But that's been a right Royal bluff. If the Sydney-based body moved to de-register, clubs would leave it in droves and form their own association or affiliate with another state.
It's time the Royal recognised thisissue. It's been going on for years, it's red hot at the moment, and it won't go away.
THERE'S unrest in the veterans' bowls clubs, too, over what is seen as interference in their affairs by the state body. The clubs are simmering over two points - the issuing of badges and a state edict that says a veteran bowler must be over 65.
Bowls NSW issues badges to all bowlers when they reach 65. The veterans' clubs regard that as their responsibility. Otherwise, they say, there'll be bowlers wearing the veterans' badge who have no intention of taking part in veterans' activities.
Says Tweed-Byron Veterans' president David Croft: "A district official on behalf of Bowls NSW presented 35 veterans' badges at our club and not one of the 35 turned up at the next meeting."
The state age limit of 65 has long been a sore point with the veterans' clubs who ignore it and accept bowlers aged 60. Their reason for doing this is simple - they need numbers on their playing days, otherwise what is currently a booming form of our game will go down the drain.
Veterans' days are among the best-supported events on the bowls calendar. Lose them and the game would plunge. The veterans' clubs say they don't need the state to be poking its nose in.
FOURTEEN-year-old twins Indi and Kit Conlan have taken another step forward in what pundits are predicting will be brilliant bowls careers. Playing on their home greens at Alstonville, they topped their sections in the open all-age state-run Rookies competition, then faced each other in the final. Indi won 17-14.
As the Northern Rivers district rookie champion, Indi will go on to the zone finals at Ballina RSL on September 20. Win that and he'll take on the best of the state's newcomers in Port Macquarie on November 1.
YOU can't get more unanimous than this: everybody at the three meetings in one day of the newly-formed Lismore Heights Sports, Recreation and Community Club had their hand up in favour of all resolutions without debate.
And the quorum of 100 bowling club members was exceeded. Next step is the transfer of land lease, liquor and gaming licences.
All the resurrected club needs now is bowler support.
CARE to splice the mainbrace with the matelots? The Ballina sub-section of the Naval Association of Australia is holding a fund-raising day at Ballina RSL on Sunday week. There's free transport - a bus will leave Wollongbar at 730am.
The day, to benefit the T S Lismore Cadet Unit, will start with a sausage sizzle breakfast, bowls will follow after the Nelson's Blood is broached, then lunch. All for $15.