THE Diggers have a couple of new heroes.
Relative newcomers Robert “Dicko” Dickinson and Steven “Pencil” Byron have become the first Ballarat Memorial Sports bowlers to have the title of Ballarat District Bowls Division Champion of Champions since the club formed from a merger of Servicemen’s Memorial Bowling Club and Ballarat City in 2004.
Dicko and Pencil won the Champion of Champions pairs when they defeated Sebastopol’s Rob Baker and Scott Roberts 23-12 in the final last month at Ballarat Bowling Club.
Dicko admits beating Baker and Roberts, multiple champion of champions themselves, in the final was something of a surprise even if the margin suggested a comfortable victory.
“It’s definitely the biggest prize in bowls we’ve had,” Dicko says.
“It was unexpected because that pair is one of the benchmarks in Ballarat bowls.
“We played against Victoria in the semi-final, got a lead and ran away with it. In the 18-end final we just kept getting bowls in the head. We got about nine shots up before they came back. The margin got down to four, before we managed to stretch out the margin in the end.
“We just kept on picking up shots and we didn’t let them get a number. That was the key.”
Dickinson, 46, has been playing bowls for just four years.
Byron, 27, is actually the senior head of the two on the green, having played for half a dozen.
As part of BMS’s division one side they are in separate rinks but in pairs competition, Dickinson plays lead to skipper Byron.
“I’ve always been a lead or a two so it just made sense. I guess he’s stronger at the weighted shots and drives where I might have the edge in draw bowling,” Dicko says. “It works for us.
“I hadn’t played competitive sport for a long while before playing bowls, actually. I played cricket nine years ago and I was pretty poor at that, and golf before that. I was passable but I wouldn’t say I had any great shakes at that.
“Bowls was always something I wanted to have a go at. When I tried it I didn’t disgrace myself at it. I’ve kept practicing and have improved from then.”
The BMS duo now goes on to play in the Goldfields region final on February 28 at Central Wendouree. In the meantime they can bask in the title of Champion of Champions, even if some of their club mates take the mickey.
“We thought it would be a great experience to play in the BDBD Champion of Champions final. We didn’t expect to win it, and we played pretty well, so we’ll just prepare for another pair of bowlers,” Dicko says.
“At the club they still call us names a bit, but there is a bit of acknowledgment around the town and the club about it.”