Maher resurrects passion for bowls after car crash

IS it too much of a stretch to say lawn bowls has had a healing effect on Mt Xavier’s John Maher?

Perhaps, but it is true to say that it has resurrected his love of competitive sport.

Maher, who describes himself as a very keen competitor in anything he undertakes, gave up playing sport entirely for a decade following a nasty car crash.

Now 62, Maher credits bowls with a return to team competiton.

“My uncle Bill Squire introduced me to bowls at Mt Xavier about 11 years ago when I moved back from Bendigo to Ballarat,” Maher said. 

“I’d always played football and cricket, and had coached cricket since I was 22 years old both here and in Bendigo. 

“At age 42 I had a serious car crash and hurt my back. So from that day until I was 52 I hadn’t played any sport because of the pain.

“I started in division six and was lucky enough to play in a winning pennant grand final in his first year. 

“I found I was able to play bowls because it is a relatively sedate sport. I’ve had to modify my action but I can still play.”

Maher obviously plays well enough to be a division one skipper in a Mt Xavier side that sits top of the table, ahead of a clash tomorrow against BMS. 

“In every sport I play I always wanted to be the best player I could be,” he says. 

“I played firsts footy for Ballarat and played A-grade cricket for Ballarat-Redan. 

Maher takes pride in the fact he was a member of Mt Xavier’s first ever division one premiership. 

He is also on selection committee as the X-men work towards their goal of breaking into Ballarat Geelong premier division and then staying there. 

“I was on selection committee the year we won division one and I’m on the selection comittee again,” Maher said. “I think it would be great for the prestige of the club (to get into and stay in premier division). 

“Apart from Daylesford I think Mt Xavier is the most picturesque club in the region. The other thing is I play with and meet so many terrific people on the bowling green.

“I thought my sport was finished with my bad back and I had never considered lawn bowls, so I am very pleased Bill telephoned me and offered me the opportunity.”

Maher’s other passion, apart from bowls, is road safety.

Sadly his experience of road trauma is not limited to his own car crash 20 years ago, which is why Maher is an advocate for educating young drivers.  

“We lost Carmen who was the youngest of my four girls in a car crash 17 years ago,” Maher recalls. “She was 18 years old and went to sleep at the wheel. She had only had her licence for three months. 

“When I had my car accident an 18-year old girl lost control and rolled a four-wheel-drive her dad had bought her to keep her safe. 

“I now give talks at secondary colleges. I think everyone who has driven a car has driven tired, which is so dangerous.” 

gavin.mcgrath@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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