FOR Smeaton, this summer’s Ballarat District Bowls Division season represents a challenge of the first order.
The small country club from the other side of Creswick is having a year of firsts. The new synthetic green is being used for the first time this season and, just as significantly, the club has a side in division one of the BDBD’s Saturday pennant competition.
Bill Cosgrave, who started playing bowls 21 years ago at Smeaton and has been there ever since, says it is a challenging but exciting time at the club.
“It’s been 44 years since the club has had a team in division one,” the 72-year-old says.
“When I started the highest division at the club was three and we’ve been swapping between division two and three for about 10 years. Often we’d win division three and then go into division two but then be straight back down again.
“We got into division one by just scraping into the top four. We then knocked off the red hot favourite Daylesford by two shots after trailing all day. Now we’re in division one and we’re hoping to avoid going back down straight away.”
Bill and his Smeaton compatriots received a bit of a chilly reception into division one, weather wise at least, but managed to lose by a respectable 14 shots to Victoria.
It won’t be getting easier for the boys in maroon tomorrow even thought the match is at home.
“It wasn’t a bad first effort (last week),” Bill says. “We won one rink – a bit lucky, we got up 32-30 – and also had a draw.
“It is a big test this week against BMS. They were in premier division last year when we were in division two, so it is a big challenge for us.”
Bill and wife Elizabeth, 69, now live in Creswick but were farmers near Smeaton when Bill first tried bowls after he gave up playing tennis. Elizabeth started playing one year later.
In contrast to Smeaton’s Saturday pennant side, Elizabeth and her crew have been playing division one in midweek pennant for quite some time.
“We’re into our sixth year in division one,” Elizabeth says. “When we got in that was the first time the club had any side in the top division. I have to admit some of the ladies used to enjoy pointing this out to the men.”
Both Bill and Elizabeth have filled in for their respective sides.
When it’s Bill’s turn on a Monday he plays second in the rink skippered by Elizabeth.
“I’m fine not being the boss,” he says. “Some of my mates in the Saturday side get into me a bit about that but the ladies look after me better than they do.”
So it’s full steam ahead at Smeaton, and not just on the greens themselves.
With the synthetic green up and running, the club is now working toward expanding the club rooms with undercover decking and windows to overlook the new playing surface.