Getting to know John Kirkpatrick
Many readers will have met John during the years he has been BQ’s Umpire Committee Co-ordinator. If you know John, then you will be familiar with his dedication and dry wit.
Born in Millmerran, John first took up bowls at the age of 25 while living in Mackay. Mackay Bowls Club was the first club John joined as a favour to the local undertaker at the time. John remembers that in those days it was men only, the president was a local businessman named ‘Williamson’ and both of the lovely bar staff were called ‘Rhonda’.
Over the years, John has belonged to Mackay, Goondiwindi, Warwick, Charleville, Innisfail and Springwood Bowls Clubs and is currently a member at Capalaba. Membership at these clubs has moved in line with his 40-year role as a policeman.
Amongst his bowls experiences, John has won four club competitions, played in State titles, met some good and honest people with “good competitive spirit and when the game’s over, they say let’s have a beer and forget about it”.
Overall, he credits bowls with helping him make ‘lifelong friends’.
When he first completed the umpire’s exam, there were 100 questions and you had to get 90% right. Nowadays, the onus is not quite as daunting and accreditations are carried out by a process of quizzes, matching correct answers with questions.
Giving something back to the sport was what motivated John to take up a volunteer role with Bowls Queensland. He has been an umpire for close to 50 years and has answered many questions from people across the State over those years, which has kept his brain active. He would like to give a shout-out to Cath Crowe at BQ for her assistance in making his job easier over the years.
When asked what he thinks about bowls today, John feels that the sport is still the same as when he first started playing.
“The unfortunate part about it today is that a lot of people, including the younger brigade, are time-poor, and a game of bowls can take a few hours to play.
“Most clubs are doing barefoot bowls now, which is a form of bowls.”
John has noticed over the years that when bowls is taken up as a junior, most young people move away from the sport towards other interests and family time, but come back to it later in life and comment on how much they had missed the game.
John has some advice for people thinking about taking up bowls.
“Bowls is one of those sports you can have a lot of fun with and make many friends,” he said.
“Bowls clubs would not survive without volunteers, so don’t be frightened to put your hand up and do a job that puts something back into your club.”
John has many interesting and funny stories to share, gleaned from years of playing bowls. This is just one of John’s stories:
“Many years ago, while playing in a two-day bowls tournament in Toowoomba, we played a team from Ipswich and had a very comfortable win.
Whilst having lunch, the lead of the team from Ipswich commented to the rest of his team “when we’re on the way home, as we cross the Bremer River, stop in the middle of the bridge so I can throw my bowls into the river”.
Our lead, in a somewhat sympathetic voice said, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you”. With that, the player from Ipswich said, “why is that?”. Our lead replied, “the way you played, you would probably miss the river!”