The grip is not quite right, but the Hooker Bowlers’ skipper Beth Jalleh is forgiven. Next moment she was carrying on likenormal; the arm twist, knee slightly bent and ‘high-fiving’ her teammates from the local L.J. Hooker office in Goolwa. Welcome to night owls.
If you didn’t think these guys care about winning, take a look at her steely eyes. “Dare we use the wrong bias,” a teammate bemoans. All part of the frivolity, of course; it’s about fun.
This social night out under the banner of ‘night owls’ is celebrating its 30th season, and after so many traditional bowlers once scorned at the very thought people of all ages, shapes and sizes could dare walk on their green, you won’t find a club throughout Australia that doesn’t welcome these competitions and mostly occasional bowlers. Heck, people probably would pay money to see Beth’s antics.
Great Southern Men’s Bowling Association secretary Jim Roberts, of Hayborough, moved to the area three years ago after 19 years as club secretary-treasurer at the Edwardstown Bowling Club. “Night owls has helped a lot of clubs that otherwise would not have survived,” he said.
“It is about having a night out and simply enjoying a game of bowls. It has led to so many players taking on the game in other competitions.
“Night owls is also a great way to find out whether the game is for you. It can be expensive taking up the game more seriously, perhaps a $1000 the first year what with your club fees, the appropriate clothing and a set of new bowls. With night owls we lend you the bowls, you play in casual clothes, it costs about $10 to join a team and all you need is a pair of flat-soled shoes.”
Lawn bowls is certainly popular along the southern coast with almost 1400 full members who play pennants and various other competitions besides night owls in the men’s and women’s competitions just about every day at Goolwa, Port Elliot, Victor Harbor and Encounter Bay. Between them, they also have an estimated additional 300 night owlers. And then, some are howlers.
“Lawn bowls is certainly growing in this area, and obviously the retirement situation has a lot to do with it,” Jim said. “It’s very much a sport whereby you can relax and enjoy the game, regardless of what level.
“Having played in town for so long, I have no doubt the top sides here would compete extremely well with the strong sides in Adelaide.
“Serious bowls is also not for everyone, and that is why all 14 clubs in our association offer competition at all levels. It is a game for everyone, and if you want to try and see how you go, come out to night owls; you’ll have a great time.”
Beth (pictured) said she loved playing night owls because it was another social catch-up. “We have a few laughs,” she said. “It’s just a shame we don’t win very often, but hey, there’s always a chance with the chocolate wheel at the break.”
We can report, without bias, the Hooker Bowlers bought a giant cluster of tickets for the chocolate wheel last week, and like their performances on the greens, there is not a happy end to this story. Maybe it was the spinner’s grip.
If you would like to enquire about playing bowls please contact Jim at the Great Southern Men’s Bowling Association on 8554 3362, or Margaret Borlase, secretary of the Great Southern Women’s Bowling Association, on 8555 1596.