When the Stoke Bowling Club was founded in 1949, there were Stoke people and Nelson people. Stoke was a discrete community on the road south from Nelson, much like Papakura was in Auckland.
These days, Stoke is part of Nelson suburbia, and everyone is a Nelsonian – particularly when you’re talking about the home of the World of Wearable Arts. But when you’re talking about bowls, members of the Stoke Bowling Club are still ‘Stokers’ (or ‘Stokians’ or ‘Stokites’ or ‘Stockings’?) because of the proud pedigree of the club.
And it’s a pedigree that continues today, with the likes of club members Shannon McIlroy representing New Zealand at the recent Commonwealth Games at Broadbeach, Australia and Jimmy Pugh earning a Silver Star at last month’s National Club Championships at Browns Bay in Auckland.
In fact, when it comes to titles, Stoke punches way above its weight and bowls way closer to the jack. The club’s been a successful National Club Championship side in 2010, 2013, 2015 and now in 2018. Both Stoke men and women cleaned up in the Bowls New Zealand Centre Interclub 7’s.
But at Centre level, the results this year have been even more spectacular. In the Centre Opens, Stoke had a clean sweep in the Men’s disciplines : Dean Wood won the Singles; Shannon McIlroy and Jimmy Pugh won the Pairs; Paul Baken, Gavin Closey and Russell Calder won the Triples; and Allan Griffiths, Mike Carter, Malcolm Chalmers and Dean Wood the Fours.
The Stoke women are no bunnies either : Kirsten Edwards and Amy McIlroy won the Pairs; and Mary Orbell, Lesley Morris, Kath Newth and Jan Marsden the Fours.
Stoke dominated the Centre Champion-of-Champion events. Amy McIlroy and Allan Griffiths were awarded Gold Stars (5 centre titles); Pete Hodson and Jimmy Pugh earned a bar to their Gold Star (10 titles) and the Centre title collector, Dave Merrit, added yet another bar to his Gold Star (15 titles).
Shannon McIlroy (Open) and Dean Wood (Development) nabbed the Bowls Nelson Centre Player of the Year Trophies.
It’s been a great return on the original investment of £270 made in 1948 to purchase the block of Ranui Road land which today is home to the club pavilion and two Maniototo greens.
Good on you, Stoke!