By Michael Burgess
Norma Carey admits that what unfolded at the West Coast Women’s Fours will always be the highlight of her bowling career.
The ninth-year player was part of a Rangiora combination that upset the odds in 2021 to win the long running tournament.
In the 75th edition of the West Coast Women’s event, Carey and her teammates finished top of the pack, ahead of 41 other teams from around the South Island.
“We are world famous in Rangiora now,” laughed Carey. “So many people have been congratulating us. It will be the highlight of our careers, I’m sure…it will be pretty hard to top this.”
The Rangiora team (Carey, Annette Hurford, Helen Hurndell and Steph Galbraith didn’t have too many expectations as they made the scenic drive to Greymouth.
“Last year we had finished runners up in consolation section, by one shot,” said Carey. “We just wanted to enjoy the week.”
But things clicked from the start. They were relaxed as a team, with their personalities gelling together well.
They also – through a quirk of the draw – seemed to avoid most of the rivals they usually faced in the Canterbury competition.
“They would normally beat us,” said Carey. “But we were playing teams we didn’t really know, so there was no psychological barrier. We played the bowls, not the bowlers.”
That recipe worked. They progressed to the last 16, then the quarter finals, then the last four. There were a lot of close contests, and that continued in the semi-final, with a 13-12 victory over the Oxford team.
The final was extremely tense. Rangiora were ahead 9-6 on the penultimate end, then dropped three shots, as the Havelock combination came back into the contest.
“It went right down to the wire,” says Carey. “We had played so many games to get to the final and we thought ‘Oh no, not again; We have to do it this time’. It probably got us a little more determined.”
They did the job – gaining a shot on the last end to prevail 10-9 – and the coveted Bell trophy was theirs. It was an impressive performance, given the experience of the team, with two fifth year bowlers (Hurford and Galbraith).
They had enjoyed a wonderful time on the Coast – “the hospitality, the food, everything was great” – and headed back to Rangiora with a little bonus.
“Last year we came home with $30 each [in prizemoney]” said Carey. “This time we had $550 each.”
Tournament organiser Mary Keating said it had been a successful week, despite some unhelpful rain, which saw the third round rained out.
It was hosted across five clubs and drew teams from across the West Coast, as well as central Otago, Ashburton, Christchurch and Nelson.
By Michael Burgess