THE Ballarat bowling community has been left reeling these past few weeks after the loss of one of its most prominent and favourite figures in Ekke Martini.
Martini, who represented four bowling clubs across his 30-plus year tenure as a Ballarat bowler, died from a NASH (Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis) liver disease on February 10, just five days shy of his 69th birthday.
Members of the Ballarat Memorial Sports bowling club (Martini’s last club) fondly paid tribute to his memory by turning up to Saturday’s division one pennant match against Mt Xavier wearing odd socks – as their dearly departed comrade had done several times when running late for his bowls matches.
“He’d always be rushing off to bowls and would invariably have forgotten some piece of clothing,” Martini’s wife Isabel said.
Martini moved to Ballarat 38 years ago and worked as a dentist, but also spent more than 20 years as a bowls presenter on the 99.9 Voice FM community radio station as well as running a folk music night on alternate Mondays.
“He was fairly argumentative at the best of times – he loved bringing people on the air to argue with and pose awkward questions to regarding current issues that the Ballarat bowling community faced,” Martini said.
“He was too busy to really put his heart and soul in practising – he couldn’t have become a serious player when he had a wife and four kids to support.”
Despite this, Martini still managed to play at a high level, representing BMS and Central Wendouree in division one pennant.
“He was a very funny man and a comedian of our club,” BMS division skipper and close friend Kevin McLean said.
“He was also a fierce competitor and a multiple premiership player for us – he was a great team player.”
Such was Martini’s strike rate in games that he never played in a losing grand final.
Martini began his bowling career with the City Bowls Club before it amalgamated into Central Wendouree where he became club president, before switching to the Ballarat Serviceman’s Bowling Club in 1997 – which subsequently amalgamated into BMS in the mid 2000s.
Martini played badminton from a young age before switching to bowls in his mid 30s.
He was a keen supporter of all sports and took holidays to attend four Summer Olympics, two Commonwealth Games and one Winter Olympics.