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MCC-Kew beat State Champions & the odds.

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MCC-Kew introduced 4 new players to their top 16, from last years Division-1 Premiership winning side which took all before it, to be promoted into the elite Premier Division this season, as one of the top 10 clubs in the State.

Past history reveals promotion to Premier Division has been cruel to the majority of Clubs who advance through Division-1 supremacy, only to find themselves out of their league, & being belted & battered every week, culminating in their being dumped back to Division-1 after only one season up with the best in the sport, & totally shell-shocked!!

Division-1 clubs generally don’t hold a candle to the quality of teams in Premier division, so, to be certain we’d be competitive, MCC-Kew had no choice but to recruit new talent who have the experience & reputation at this level, or players on the way up, who would hold their own in this company.

Without the addition of this new blood, the club would almost certainly remain just behind the required elite performance level. It’s not that Division-1 players can’t mix it with the best, they can, it’s just that the best Division-1 clubs don’t have enough of these consistent-quality-players to make up 4 competitive Premier Division rinks.

Therefore, it was decided to search for players who wanted to play for the club. We chose to adopt a policy to only pay coaches, and if players wanted to be a part of our exciting journey, and enjoy our new facilities & greens, then they’d be welcomed to jump on board.

The new faces included in the side for round-1 v Clayton are;

Craig Mills. (Ascot Park Bowls Club, Adelaide & current South Australian state rep, playing as a approved Bowls Victoria ‘Marquee’ player)
Tristania Doolan. (St.Kilda. Now displaying form which will see her selected in the Victorian team very soon.)
Richard Kopcewicz. (Moonee Ponds. Recent winner of Victorian Masters singles.)
Chris Ball. (Moonee Ponds & emerging young champion)

This new 4 would mix into the team to face the current state Premier Division Premiership champions, Clayton, in round-1. A side that includes many highly decorated players.

This would be a daunting first up encounter, as the seasons debutants in Premier division, at Barkers Road. However, with nothing to lose & everything to gain, it would become a true measure of the advancement the club has made over the winter, and would be a true test to determine if the difference between being smashed every week as might have been the case, or now being competitive, will quickly become evident with the addition of 4-new experienced faces?

As there was no measurement benchmark, this first-up match against the State Champions will answer these questions.

The round-1 pennant day began with the raising of the 2013/14 Divison-1 Premiership ‘white’ pennant, in glorious sunshine, - 22 degrees & strong winds on our show-green carpet running at approx 15-16 seconds. The God’s had smiled upon us to open the season, and the buzz around the club was electric with the anticipation of what the club was hoping it might be able to deliver against the State’s best side. There was a positive confidence built up by Coach, Garry ‘Major’ Ball in a level of competition in which he’s had years of experience, - & most of our players hadn’t.

The Rinks

(S) Chris Ball, - (3) Richard Kopcewicz, - (2) Angus MacIsaac, - (L) Eng Ang
(S) Ray Jansen, - (3) Simon Collett, - (2) Graeme Spry, - (L) Tristania Doolan
(S) Craig Mills, - (3) Peter Pervaz, - (2) Tom Ristic, - (L) Aaron Van Haaften
(S) Garry Ball, - Mick Pacholli, - Brad Imberger, - (L) Brian Wintrip

The match got away confidently for MCC-Kew with Craig Mills having 6+ shots on the board by the 4th, & Garry Ball 3+ after 3, and no big multiples being dropped early, - which is always the fear, when you are playing against the best in the state, or if you start nervously. But we didn’t.

The side proved to itself they were going to hold their own in Premier Division , and give Clayton a scare when leading 12/7 after 15 ends.

It was the start we needed just to say to Clayton, if you thought we were going to be another cannon fodder, easy-beat Division-1 side up for a one-off season visit, and a guaranteed 18-points, - think again. We’re here to scare & to stay.

As Clayton got used to the green & how to counteract the tricky winds, they clawed back to be leading by 10-shots at the 34th end and they grew that lead to 13-shots by
the 52nd end, but that’s where it all changed, and the MCC-Kew side were determined not to give the match away,

Ray Jansen’s rink had grabbed back the lead at end-13 @ 13/9. Craig Mills led his rink 13/10. Garry Ball had scratched back to 7/9, and only Chris Ball was in some trouble trailing 6/17, but we’d reduced the Clayton’s lead to 6-shots, and were hungry.

The second half of the match will become the catch-cry of the club in future, whenever we might be training. “Get closer & up & at em” and that’s exactly what we did.

Chris Ball and his rink put a halt to Clayton’s run, and outscored them 9/6 over the remaining 8-ends.

Craig Mills rink just slammed the door closed on Clayton from the 12th end, with the score at 11/10, and whistled their way through winning every end, - 10 on-the-trot, & scoring 20 to zip. Simply amazing to watch but demoralising for Clayton who were just being ripped apart by this South Australian champion.

Ray Jansen brought the spectators to their feet on several occasions with some remarkably deft conversions, and he won 8 of the last 10 ends, scoring 21+shots to 2. Just brilliant bowls by him & all of his rink.

Garry Ball’s rink were the strugglers over the last 10 ends dropping 15-shots to 6+ including a scary 5-down on the 18th when all the 32 players fingernails were getting shorter & the main board looking like a close win for us. But, at the 71st end, leading by only 4+ shots, the pressure was really on to determine which side had the grit & confidence to take the points.

Ray Jansen’s rink destroyed any glimmer of belief Clayton had mustered on their 20th end, scooping a 6+ & on Wills 20th he chipped in with a 3+ to seal it, in front of a shocked Clayton side & it’s supporters, The honours for the first round of the Premier season go to MCC-Kew, the Coach, & the players.

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