Bowling for 60 years

by bqmedia

Contributors: Denis Hancock and Jace Sainsbury

Kevin Sainsbury is a member and immediate past president of the Hervey Bay Bowls Club. In 2020, Kevin achieved a remarkable feat – 60 years of bowling. Kev celebrated the day with a large bash and bowls at the club with the many friends he has made over the years of bowling.

Kevin tells his story in his own words:

The year was 1960. My wife, Unity, and I had just started a family and we frequently visited her family, who lived out of town. One day my father-in-law said to me, “You don’t want to be sitting around all day with two women. How about a game of bowls?” So, down to the Eidsvold Bowls Club we went for a game.

During the first few years I only played every two or three weeks to have an afternoon out and a few beers. Then, in the 1970s I decided to take the game seriously and I started to win some competitions. From then on, I was hooked. At Eidsvold I won the club singles five times, pairs six times and the triples once. At district level (Central and Upper Burnett District), I won the singles championship twice, pairs once and was singles Champion of Champions twice.

Competition starting dropping off in Eidsvold around this time, so I joined the Mundubbera Bowls Club, 22 miles south. I won the singles championships at both clubs in the same year. That caused quite a stir. At Mundubbera Club I won the singles championships three times, was three times pairs champion, three times triples champion and three times fours champion.

I also won the Hervey Bay Master Pairs with Kev Burns. At that time it was a three-day carnival. The top four after the first two days played off in the finals on the third day. Our first game was against Rob Parella and partner who beat us by four shots. That was the only game we lost in the carnival. In the first round of the final, the two Kevs combined well to win. We did not know our opposition in the final. After five or six ends we were 9-1 down. There was a good crowd of spectators until about half of them left at that point. It was about then that the other skip, Tom Truman, told me about his recent win, the State Singles. That put a different outlook on the game. At the change of ends I told Kev Burns who we were playing and said that we have to go up a gear. We gained ground over the next six ends and were only a couple behind. Nip and tuck to the 20th end where we levelled the score. We were holding two shots on the last end, so I put my last bowl about seven feet behind. Sure enough, Tom picked up the kitty only to push it back to my bowl. Game over to us.

In 1990 my wife, Unity, and I decided to retire to Hervey Bay. We bought a little material and hobby shop in the Bay which she still runs. My weekends were tied up running to and fro between Eidsvold and Hervey Bay, so I didn’t get to play much competition bowls in the 90s. After leaving Mundubbera Club, I joined Hervey Bay Bowls Club.

At Hervey Bay, I have won the singles, mixed pairs, triples twice and fours three times. My fours team went on to win the Fraser Coast District Fours. I have also won the Veteran Singles six times and been runner-up three times. However, I suppose my greatest achievement was being a finalist in the Queensland State Champion of Champions Singles twice – in 1978 and 1982. Getting to the finals in Queensland is not a bad effort, bearing in mind that our city cousins used to call the country bowlers “just Sunday bowlers”. How true that was.

The finals were played at Biloela Bowls Club in 1982. I didn’t handle the conditions well in my first game and was beaten 31-6 by Des Cooper. In the 3rd round I was up against reigning singles Champion of Champions, Don Ryan. Don was a great player and was tipped to go back- to-back in 1982. In a much improved performance, I was able to upset Don 31-23 and knock him out of the final. That was a great achievement.

Kev explains that he isn’t one to make excuses, but pointed out it wasn’t the speed of the green that caused him to play so badly in his first round. There are no air or bus services between Eidsvold and Biloela so Kev had to drive. The major factor in his performance was that he was running late and travelling at speeds up to 150Km/h. He only arrived five minutes before the start of the match as the other players were walking onto the green. He started with no rollups and had no time to settle.

Some other highlights from Kevin’s bowling career include:

  • Skipped a Hervey Bay Fours team in the District SidesChampionship in Brisbane – winning 10 out of 12 games.
  • Skipping and winning several Fours Carnivals from Rockhampton to Dalby.
  • Winning the Master Pairs in Hervey Bay in 1986.
  • Winning Singles , Pairs, Triples and Fours in the one year (1989) in Mundubbera.
  • Skipped the winning team at the Bowls Past President’s Association Carnival held at Hervey Bay in 2001.
Kev Sainsbury representing Hervey Bay at the Fraser Coast District Division 1 Pennant semi-final (2019)
Kevin’s family travelled to Hervey Bay to celebrate his 60 years of bowling. L-R: Amanda Sainsbury (niece), Reece Sainsbury (grandson), Jace Sainsbury (grandson), Ashleigh Sainsbury (eldest son), Kevin Sainsbury, Unity Sainsbury (wife). Standing behind Kevin & Unity is Liam Sainsbury (grandson), Brendon Sainsbury (youngest son), Lyn Sainsbury (sister-in-law), Trevor Sainsbury (brother), Lyel Sainsbury (middle son) & Nicole Sainsbury (niece)
Hervey Bay Bowls Club Master Pairs – Tom Truman (2nd from left), Kev Burns and Kev Sainsbury on the right.