With Auckland Bowling Club laying claim to one of the world’s oldest bowling clubs, it’s no surprise they are tagged “The Auckland Originals”, presenting a formidable challenge at next month’s National Bowls3Five playoffs.
Though despite their rich history, the club, which will celebrate its 160th anniversary in September, has moved with the evolving changes facing the sport and have now found themselves in the mix to secure a place in a regular televised campaign on Sky Sport.
Hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow Auckland competitors, Pt Chevalier Pirates (inaugural champions) and the Royal Oak Rockets – the Auckland trio of Maria Smith, Bevan Beckham and Neville Hill, will be looking to impress on the carpeted rinks at Naenae.
Neville, widely known as Bones, has enjoyed a solid season on the national scene, most prominently skipping his 12-year-old grandson Liam Hill to the last eight of the national pairs, and joining Mike Solomon and Jimmy Madden to emulate the same feat in the national fours.
Playing off the front, Hill has joined Beckham and skip Smith to form a promising line-up, taking out the Auckland Bowls3Five final in thrilling fashion.
Reversing a large first set loss 9-0 to take the second set 6-3, Smith and Co combined to clinch the tiebreaker opposite Te Atatu’s Team Tama.
The Auckland trio then went on to defeat both Coromandel and Waikato hopefuls in their respective regional playoffs, securing their place among the country’s finalists, joining some high performing combinations from clubs across the nation.
Speaking on behalf of the team, club President Nenad Rajic said the club were delighted for their representatives, and passed kudos on to the other members of the team, comprising the nine players that took out the local Auckland competition.
“It was a fantastic effort from our side. Whenever these guys have played in Auckland, we’ve got good numbers in to watch, got right in behind all of them and supported all the way,” he said.
Sporting the dark blue shirts, the club have repeatedly shown a strong competitive edge on the local scene and will now be hoping to carry their form through to the capital next month.
“Maria, Bevan and Neville are a very competitive three and together they’ll be giving it everything they have,” Nenad remarked.
“While many of us can’t get down to Wellington, there will be a good number of us gathering at the clubhouse, enjoying a drink and following the excellent live streaming on offer. With work and other cost barriers, it’s great to have that technology available and hopefully next season, we can see them on our screens at home every week . . . anything can happen, so we’ll see.”
Buying into the Bowls3Five concept, the club are now gearing up to transition their popular business house bowls competition to the well-branded and Bowls New Zealand endorsed Twilight Bowls3Five.
“We have watched our Auckland counterparts Pt Chevalier Pirates and Royal Oak Rockets compete for the last couple of years, and we really enjoy and like the format,” Nenad said.
“Going forward, we are all evolving as we go, and that’s the case even with our business house league changing to Twilight Bowls3Five. We are hoping people can make the link from what they are seeing on TV on Sky, associating the league and connecting it with this local option.”
And should The Originals power their way through to the Grand Final, perhaps that link will become even clearer as the club look to add an unforgettable chapter to their already rich history memoirs.