The Dobson bowling club on the West Coast is proof that great things can be built on small foundations.
The club has only 10 members, which is a significant increase on 2020, when only six names were listed in that category.
But they have again proved kings of the green, with a second successive win at the West Coast Men’s Four earlier this month.
“We were a bit lucky,” says team skip John Aynsley. “But that’s the way it goes. Every other game we seemed to play an extra end and then in the final – which is normally the hardest – it all came together.”
Aynsley is the president at Dobson and does most of the work maintaining the greens. His wife is treasurer and secretary.
“I’ve told one of my sons he will need to learn to do the green,” laughs Ainslie. “I probably spend more time here than at home. But we are going okay. You don’t need a lot of members to come out financially.”
Ainslie is more focussed on greenkeeping these days than bowling (“I probably get more enjoyment out of doing that”) and estimates he had played only three or four times in the weeks ahead of the tournament.
The mantle of defending champions didn’t bother the Dobson team (Aynsley, Shaun Osborne and Robbie Osborne), who were supplemented by Greymouth bowler Tim Morton after Aynsley’s son Shaun was a last-minute withdrawal.
“We put our heads down and just played,” said Aynsley. “We weren’t even thinking about it. There is no point in looking at it that way…better just to play bowls.”
The formula worked. Five wins from six matches was enough to reach the last 16, and from there they kept on progressing, but it was never straightforward.
The quarter final against John Lynch’s composite team was tight, before another narrow contest in the last four against the Rangiora combination skipped by Trevor Skerten.
“We went to an extra end – again – and ended up winning 13-12,” said Aynsley. “It was a close one, but we found a way.”
Aynsley was relaxed before the final against Hornby, finding time for a couple of Speights before the decider and his optimism proved justified.
“We picked up a seven early on,” said Aynsley. “I said to the boys if we lose from here, we need to put our bowls in our bag and go home.”
They prevailed 15-7 and the moment was extra special, given the final day was staged at Dobson.
“It was the first time Dobson hosted the final since 1939,” said Aynsley.
There weren’t too many celebrations, as Aynsley was helping with the pack down, but a quiet satisfaction at what they had achieved.
“It was an early night,” said Aynsley. “It probably took a few days to sink in that we had won again.”
Bowls West Coast representative Ken Smythe hailed another highly successful fortnight for the region.
“It was the 107th annual tournament for the men and I believe it has only been cancelled three times,” said Smythe. “The women’s tournament was the 75th annual event so we have a lot of history.
While the weather made things a little difficult during the women’s week, the men enjoyed beautifully fine days.
Smythe said the support of principal sponsors the Recreation Hotel and Nelson Building Society as well as “ten or 11” motels and establishments from around the area was vital.