Photograph:IAN GLOVER
I Glover, Monday, 3 July 2017


MEMBERSHIP wise, the Norths' club would most certainly be down in the middle order, however if support for their fellow members accounts for anything, they would be streets ahead of any club in the zone.

Admittedly Norths' had three semi finalists in the zone Open singles and two in the Reserves, however when Kenta Treacher was knocked out of contention in the open semi by Belrose's John Campton, it was left to Sam Owen (who had a narrow semi win over clubmate Zac Abro) to carry the full weight of the club on his shoulders.

Now according to a group of Harbord regulars, known to some as the "sunshine club", who regardless of the weather, position themselves outside the club in an area known as "under the arches".

The writer is reliably informed that Sam to his credit had been observed putting in a certain amount of track work (i.e. both rolling up and organised games) preceding the play offs which really impressed the "sunshine" boys.    

Now the aforesaid weight certainly wasn't alleviated in the early stages when "Rowdy" Campton zipped away to lead 11-2 and then 17-7.

The support team while not unduly alarmed, elected to divide their attention between Sam and their Reserve finalist, Frankie Spanyik   on the other side of the green, who appeared to be struggling. Although his unique running style between wickets introduced some humour and possibly alleviated any concern. 

Facial expressions and overall appearances, regardless of the score or superb bowling counted for nought with neither of these turf craftsmen (greenkeepers to the uninitiated), which, if you couldn't see the scoreboard, would have been impossible to ascertain as to who was in front.

The enormity of Sam's task at this point proved very interesting. While the normally cool, calm and collected fellow hadn't battered an eyelid, he produced another  aspect of his game . . . the drive.

This is what makes the single's discipline so interesting.

Sam plays second in Norths' 1's pennant side, and as a result and obviously depending on the mentality of his skip, particularly if he's building a head, the drive is seldom an option.

In the big picture, Sam was now his own master and elected to introduce the drive and percentages wise frequently achieved a result, although not always the result that originally intended. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so they say.

It would be fair to say that Sam was a little tardy right from the first bowl, however on the other hand Rowdy hit his straps and played immaculate bowls, particularly when Sam held shot and then the agony of seeing it rolled out and a turn around of two or three.

But there was no theatrics, no sign of any emotion from either player, which unfortunately many higher grade players believe should all be part of their act. 

Then the tide turned, well only slightly, but Sam was determined to go out with his head held high even when Rowdy was on the springboard and led 28-22.

Having done their job on the far rink, Norths' supporters then turned their attention to Sam in what appeared to be a belated attempt to also get him across the line, and it appeared to achieve results.

Shot by shot, Sam clawed his way to 25, but it was still a huge ask, despite Rowdy playing far too many short bowls, particularly at this critical stage and appeared to be incapable of overcoming it.

Up to this stage, Rowdy had played "round the clock" and handled the renowned and difficult forehand playing south (first rink  on Harbord's TV green) without problem, and although the south/east breeze had become stronger, his bowls actually turned against it.

Most, if not all experienced single's players have been through the mental turmoil that may have been playing on Rowdy's mind and this end in particular possibly proved to be the most  critical of the game. While he held one shot, Sam had the next three.  

It was a brave shot but the with all the "racquet" from the sidelines and having led for the entire game, it was understandable that it was time to put everyone out of their misery.

Rowdy drove, removed his bowl and Sam levelled at 28-all. Then spectator mayhem erupted and this  wouldn't have done much for Rowdy's confidence over the remaining ends which resulted with Sam winning 31-28.

Congratulations on a great game by both players, particularly on how they handled themselves under extreme pressure.