Republic of Moreland

April 11, 2007

Extreme lawn bowls

Filed under: Brunswick,Coburg,op shops,Sydney Road — Kath @ 12:20 am

Today at the Salvo’s in Coburg, I bought some lawn bowl trophies that were really just liquor glasses with gold trim. Each had “trophy” embossed underneath a gold emblem with ‘Moreland Bowls Club’, ‘Coburg West Bowling Club’ and so on.

I bought a dozen or so, all from Moreland suburbs, but the store has plenty still from Elsternwick bowls and elsewhere. Must be from an enthusiast’s deceased estate, and I couldn’t help picturing the whole set (around 40 glasses) having pride of place in a glass cabinet next to the gas heater in a geezer’s lounge-room.

To end up sitting on the bargain shelf of an op-shop. I paid a handsome 50 cents for each, but felt I was pilfering someone’s title.

There’s a supposed resurgence in lawn bowling (naffy George Negus, without irony, has said “suddenly the game has become groovy — so groovy…”). Particularly since 2001, when the lawn bowling community took the radical, visionary step of permitting women to compete on a Saturday, with the blokes. More radically, now there are extreme lawn bowl sports. But I haven’t yet drummed up enough interest to go.

Still, I’ve got a kind of theme happening. Out of nowhere, an accidental collection emerged: our household boasts two vintage bowls bags, a bowls mug, a bowls cup-and-saucer, and now bowls liquor glasses.

Like campervan interiors, lawn bowls has a peculiar aesthetic that resonates with my inner retired geezer. In many other scenarios, lawns are objectionable (you know: the class values they represent, the petrol they waste) but stroll me past a green like The Grove’s Moreland Bowls Club, and I’m anybody’s it makes me irrationally content. The decadent expanse, the chalk, the measuring instruments and paraphernalia, the scoreboards, the quiet clacking of balls, the behatted nods and murmurs and squints, the ‘Madam President’ parking sign, the uniforms, the club rules and repressed competitive tension… so civilised. So Coburg. I feel privy to another era.

Unlike other lawn sports that evolved from the great estates, participation in lawn bowls seems more egalitarian. (Yet what would happen, I wonder, if nearby churchgoers were to park in front of the ‘Seceratary’ or ‘Madam President’ sign in The Grove?)

These are the reasons it worries me that The Grove club will sooner or later be under great pressure to succumb to real estate development. Or so a reliable colleague (involved in such things) reckons. And they ain’t building new ones nowdays. Bloke on The Avenue also thinks it’s only a matter of time before lawn bowls suffers the fate of Melbourne’s own trugo.

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3 Comments »

  1. The bowls clubs in Moreland are there own worst enemy – they do nothin gto entice younger people into their clubs like St Kilda Bwls Club has – my local in Coburg has a few members who give me filthy looks whenever me and my sons venture in for a look.

    Comment by peter robertson — April 11, 2007 @ 9:27 am | Reply

  2. Yes, I agree with Peter on this. They’re guaranteeing their own irrelevance.

    Mind you, has anyone else been tempted to duck in for Moreland Bowls Club’s winter activities… especially the enticing “Crazy Whist”, promised every Tuesday at 1pm? I reckon it’s probably like regular whist, ‘cept everybody does lines of blow and gets nekkid. Gotta wear one of those hats, though.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — April 11, 2007 @ 10:28 am | Reply

  3. Oooo, trophies. Are you going to use them as trophies, or as actual glasses? Everyone’s a winner! Cheers!

    Comment by jac — April 11, 2007 @ 10:32 pm | Reply


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