GEORGE Pyke signed up to play bowls for the first time by accident.
His wife played for Victoria, and on one of the few occasions he went to join her for carpet bowls during the week, the president of Victoria Bowls Club at the time handed him form to sign up.
“The teams came up for the next week’s pennant and I had been selected to play,” Pyke said.
“So I went down in my cricket shoes and cricket trousers.”
Pyke can’t remember exactly when it was he started, but as he won his first club premiership in 1978, he assumed it would have been a few years before that.
“I used to say to my wife if I did join a club I wouldn’t join Victoria, because we lived in Alfredton and I used to drive right by City Oval,” he said.
“Now I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”
The retired carpentry teacher has umpired pennant matches for 10 years.
Pyke used to be a golfer as well, but gave that away about 15 years ago.
“I don’t play as much golf any more – I probably couldn’t walk around the holes.
“Bowls is a much easier game – it’s just as stressful, but not as hard.”
Pyke played in Victoria’s premier division since the Ballarat-Geelong pennant inception, until 2010.
“I was politely told I was too old to play in the premier division and so I’ve played in the division one side since,” he said.
Pyke recalls winning the premiership flag in the premier division in 2008 as his most bowls moment.
“After the game I cried. I wasn’t sad, just excited,” he said.
“We played Queenscliff in the semi-final and it was a draw, so we had to replay that game.
“We ended up playing them again in the final, and after each rink had played their 25 ends, we were still at a draw.
“Each rink had to play one more end to decide the final score.
“We ended up winning by two shots.”
Pyke said as he knew many of the Queenscliff bowlers from holidaying in the area, he commiserated briefly with the opposition bowlers.