Dave Rankin : A Kiwi in Western Australia

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In January this year, Dave Rankin and Kyle McIlroy (from Doubleview Bowling Club) represented Australia in the World Bowls Tour Pairs in the World Indoor Bowls Championships at Potters Leisure Resort at Hopton-on-Sea in Great Yarmouth, England.  They made the quarter-finals before succumbing to eventual runners-up, Nicky Brett and Greg Harlow from England.

There’s nothing extraordinary in that.  But what was extraordinary was the fact that Dave Rankin was a born and bred Kiwi, starting his lawn bowls career as an 18 year old at the Meadowbank Bowling Club in Oamaru in 1989.

As young blokes do, Dave decided that the world had a lot more to offer than Oamaru.  And in 1990, took off to meet up with a mate in Perth, Australia.

To fund the lifestyle of a 19 year old, Dave became an Apprentice Greenkeeper at the Claremont Bowls Club, where he was also able to sharpen up his bowls.  He moved to Perth’s Osborne Park Bowling Club in 1994, and finding he was able to enunciate ‘streuth’ with a fair dinkum accent, became an Australian citizen.  That allowed him to be selected for the Western Australia State Side in 1996.

By 1997, greener fields and greener greens beckoned Dave, and he packed bags and shifted to England.  “It wasn’t a good move,” recalls Dave, “and 2 months later I’d had enough and went back to live in Oamaru.”

Dave rejoined the Meadowbank Bowling Club, before moving in to town to the Phoenix Bowling Club and then out to the small Club of Pukeuri. After a short stint in Oamaru, work took him up to Nelson in 2005, and Dave continued bowling at the Richmond Bowling Club.

In 2003, Dave married Mel McDonald, and with his new father-in-law Russell McDonald and new brother-in-law Craig McDonald, they became a team to beat on the lawn bowls circuit.

But Dave was itchy to get back to Perth, and with Mel and son Harley in tow, returned as Greenkeeper for Osborne Park Bowling Club once again, before moving to the north of the city in 2009 to take up the greenkeeping at the Sorrento Bowling Club while playing for the Doubleview Bowling Club.

Today Dave is one of 5 groundsmen at the tonky private school of Wesley College in South Perth, where he has been since 2011.  And he now bowls closer to home at Kardinya Bowling Club.  It’s a club that has two sand-filled synthetic greens as well as retractable shade covers to keep the 40º+ Perth summer sun at bay.

He’s won more than 10 club titles in Perth (including being undefeated in the club Mixed Pairs with wife Mel) adding to the club titles and 15+ centre titles he won in New Zealand. 

But Bowls Western Australia has overlooked his Kiwiness, and he has now played 98 games for the State since 1996/1997 when he was first selected.

The coup this year was winning the Western Australia Champion of Champions Singles held at the Bassendean Bowling Club in April.  “That gives me automatic entry to the Australian Champion of Champions Singles later this year,” Dave chuckles, “and If I win there, to the World Champion of Champion Singles next year.”  Not bad for a Gore boy brought up in Oamaru!

Dave and Mel love the lifestyle in Perth, and love to catch up with their friends for lazy Sunday afternoon lunches.

“We’ve just built a brand new 3-bedroom home for under $500,000 and now have our own little slice of Australia,” he enthuses, “The weather’s great here.  It’s relaxing.  I love my AFL and my rugby and cant wait for the Rugby World Cup in September.  It’s just a bugger that the Western Force was put to the sword.”

Keep up the good work Dave.  Just remind those Aussies that pavlova and Phar Lap were Kiwis too!

-Rob Davis