Long live the King
Kurt and Emma Brown win the 2016 State Champs inaugural Mixed Pairs event, Kurt’s fifth state mixed pairs title, Emma’s second. Story and photos by Naomi Cescotto
The ‘King’ of Queensland’s State Mixed Pairs Kurt Brown struck again today at Tweed Heads, winning his fifth title in eight years.
His Queen of Hearts, wife Emma, sparkled in today’s semi but found it more challenging in the final to strike consistent genius.
“You can’t afford to have a loose end against a pair like Mel Larcombe and Kevin Anderson,” Emma said. “I had 15 ordinary ends … but I did trail the jack in the final end (to our advantage),” Emma reminded her husband.
“The best game of bowls I’ve seen in a while,” BQ Match’s Nev Galbraith said.
“I’m sure the crowd would have enjoyed it,” Kurt said.
“It was a hard game, there was drama, mystique and tears (mine!),” Emma said.
“We were always behind…” Kurt said, his face lighting up with a beatific smile as he picked up the final bowl of the game on the 21st end, knowing he and Emma held shot.
With three state reps and a Scottish international doing battle in the first title-fight of the 2016 State Championships, expectations were high for a showcase of top bowls, and the players delighted the crowd with amazing shots many times over.
Mel and Ando shot out of the blocks, 4-1 by the fourth end, 8-3 by the eighth.
Kurt and Emma made four on the 10th and the score was level 10-10.
Again the Andos pulled away, 14-17 (17th end) but a second four put the Browns back in the game.
Mel’s pink bowl held shot on the 18th, Kurt managed to put his black bowl one closer, Emma got a blue bowl in there too.
Ando called on his specialty to kill the end but had a rare miss; the eye roll said it all.
Kurt plopped one more black speckle in there to twist the knife, relief for the Browns at a critical time, in the lead 18-17 (18 ends).
The Andos were back by the 20th, 19-19, the drama sustained to the final end.
It was ridiculous how close this game was!
As Emma said earlier, she trailed the jack to enable Kurt to hold shot, and instead of driving, Ando tried a gentle draw shot, but not good enough to unseat the Browns.
A second draw shot also missed the bulls-eye and Kurt picked up his final bowl a very happy man, knowing whatever he did, he still had shot, or perhaps two, but he only needed one.
And that’s the way it played out, 20-19, 21 ends, to the Browns.
Emma’s second State Mixed Pairs title, the first on her honeymoon with Kurt in October 2012 at Bargara.
It was also won by just one shot in a nail-biter against Natasha Jones and Richard Strawbridge from Bribie Island, after a shocker shot by Emma almost gave the game away.
“That’s what I told Emma as we went into our final end…Just remember what happened four years ago and take some grass this time…” Kurt teased.
For Kurt, it’s his fifth State Mixed Pairs title in eight years, the first two won back-to-back in 2009 and 2010 with Gail Crompton from Bargara, the third in 2012 with Emma, the next in 2014 with Ester Regan playing against Emma and her coach Ian Schuback at Capalaba, and to make it a full handful, this year’s State Championships – Mixed Pairs title, in the event’s inaugural year.
“We really missed my grandma Doreen Brown being here with us today,” Kurt said. “We’d like to dedicate this win to her.”
“She came up from Victoria to watch us win our first state mixed pairs title together in 2012 and we really missed her this time, she’s very special to us.”
(State Mixed Pairs 2012 was the first tournament I covered for Bowls Queensland at Bargara and Grandma Doreen practically danced on to the green, swamping Kurt and Emma with delighted hugs and kisses when they won by a whisker. Four years later, it’s hard to believe the joyful 69-year-old is very ill; the thoughts and prayers of those here at today’s final are with you, Grandma Doreen!)
Teacher Emma also thanked her school community at St Thomas’s, Camp Hill for their support of her bowls.
“It’s great to take back a state title, they’ll be really pleased for me,” Emma said.
Kurt has moved from Pine Rivers to Kawana to do the bowls coordinator’s job, just as Emma and Julie Keegan moved from Kawana to Broadbeach to further their bowls.
The state runners up Mel and Ando also proved to be a sizzling pairing.
“I asked Kev to play with me because he’s an awesome bloke and an awesome bowler, he’s gorgeous,” Mel said.
“We had a great week, Mel is such good fun and she looks after us, I hope she’ll play with me again next year,” Kevin Anderson said.
How did they make it into the final?
Teams Brown and Anderson were two of the favourites to end up in the final, with Wendy Wilson and lead Simon Bailey kindly dispatching Australia’s No 1 ranked bowler Ryan Bester and Chloe Stewart in the sections.
The ungrateful Anderson then finished off Wilson in the next round, the quarterfinals, 28-5.
Anderson faced Windsor Wombats Sue O’Toole and Alan Brown in the semi, which wasn’t too taxing on the brilliant Broadbeach duo, 19-10.
“We had a great time,” beaten semi finalist Sue O’Toole said.
“But it would have been better if it was in Brisbane and we didn’t have to get up at 4am to get down here,” Alan Brown joked.
“It’s the first time Sue and I have played together, usually we are opposite to each other, but they put us together in Premier 7s this year (now BLK Sevens) and we did well.”
“Our strength is our consistency,” Sue said.
“But not today (in the semi)!” Alan said.
Emma and Kurt Brown had a surprisingly easy win over Bolivia Millerick and Anderson’s Scottish compatriot Ryan Burnett also from Broadbeach in the quarter final 33-19, and faced Bargara ol’ marrieds Rob and Adele Pershouse in the semi.
“It was a bit intimidating for me to play against Kurt Brown because he’s such a good bowler, he used to be at Bargara,” Rob Pershouse said.
“For us to get where we did, we did pretty good.”
Adele always said the Pershouses played as well together on the green as off, and tipped they would still be there on the finals day. She was right.
“Rob always calls well,” skip Adele said.
“It’s the only time I get to tell her what do do!” Rob joked.
“My strength’s getting her out of trouble…”
“We’ve really enjoyed ourselves, we’ll be back next year,” Adele said.
There were 56 pairs in the inaugural State Champs – Mixed Pairs event, about half couples in life as well as on the green.
“It’s lovely to be able to play with your husband,” Emma Brown said, giving Kurt a big kiss.
Where is BQ Kiss Cam when you need it?