Liam Hill will never forget the 2020 edition of the Cliff Shanks Memorial 2-4-2 Pairs held at Royal Oak from 24-26 October.
The youngster may not have come close to the winner’s circle, but he had an experience he will always cherish.
That’s because Liam, who is just 11 years old, got to play the event alongside his grandfather Neville Hill (73).
Adding to the occasion, Liam’s mother Kirsty also competed in the tournament, playing with Karen Hema.
“It was a wonderful experience for all of us as a family,” says Kirsty. “It was pretty special. Liam was meant to be playing somewhere else over Labour Weekend. But Dad (Neville) didn’t have anyone to play with so he roped Liam in, who was delighted.”
Liam, who is a student at Orakei school, started playing socially when he was seven or eight, before becoming more serious last year when he entered some tournaments.
“It’s got more and more serious and he seems to be going quite well,” says Kirsty.
“He is very keen and people have told me he goes alright.”
Kirsty got to see the progress for herself, as she faced off against Liam and Neville in one match.
“It was actually a lot of fun,” says Kirsty. “He’s quite competitive and when we were talking outside before the match he told me ‘I’m not going to lay down to you Mum.”
Liam and Neville missed qualifying for the main event, but had a wonderful time.
“They have now entered the national pairs and are going to play that together.”
Kirsty and Hena also missed the top section, but did have the consolation of finishing third equal in the shootout.
Neville Hill has a strong history in the event. He was the winner of the main event in 2018 – playing with Mike Bradshaw – and the same pairing won the shoot-out last year.
Tournament organiser Les Smith rated the tournament a resounding success.
“We were blessed with the weather and had a full field,” says Smith. “And there was plenty of talent, with some ex-Black Jacks and some from the greater Black Jacks squad.”
It was the 21st Cliff Shanks Memorial event, and the third held at Royal Oak bowling club, since the merger of the Onehunga and Hillsborough clubs.
“We felt strongly that the heritage was important,” said Smith.
Most of the field were drawn from the greater Auckland area, though there were competitors from as far afield as Tauranga and Christchurch.
The composite team of Glen Newton (Auckland bowling club) and Allan Stewart (Te Kauwhata bowling club) won the main event, defeating the home combination of Mike Galloway and Martin Dixon in the final. Utu Vave (Royal Oak) and Luka Mataora (Bridge Park), along with Pakuranga’s Murray Dickson and Tere Brunton shared third place.
Allan Peers and John McCullagh (Thames Coast) took out the Plate event, while the local combination of Mike Bradshaw and James Gavin were popular winners of the shoot-out.