Jack’s incredible bowls journey
If anyone wants to know anything about the history of the Langhorne Creek Bowling Club, they don’t have to look any further than Jack Williams, who was a founding member of the club and is still having a roll today.
At 92 years of age, Jack has given everything to his beloved bowling club since it was founded in 1960.
Jack spoke about when his involvement with the game of lawn bowls began.
“I was first asked to play night bowls at Strathalbyn by a friend of mine and I accepted,” he said.
“1957 was the first of many Saturdays I was asked to bowl and I did. The next season I joined as a full member.”
Then came the move to Langhorne Creek, where the sprouts began to shoot for the possibility of a new bowling club in the town.
“In 1960 my wife and I brought a property at Langhorne Creek where one meeting had been held to start a bowling club and it was agreed to,” he said.
“After we moved to Langhorne Creek a second meeting was held, H.W.O. Perry was elected President and I was elected Vice President.
“Horace Perry had played bowls at Victor Harbor for many years.
“Nine members at that second meeting each agreed to lend $1,000.00 free of interest so a green could be built.
“A corner of the recreation park, beside the oval, was chosen and work started to on the green.
“When that was ready for planting a group of men went to Yarla Sand Hill to dig up couch grass, which was bagged and brought home to the club.
“It was then put through a chaff cutter, spread on the ground, rolled and watered on the 19th September 1960.”
With the greens established, it was time for Langhorne Creek to join the local competition.
“We entered a pennant side in the Alexandrina Association in 1961 with 15 members and I was the only bowler in the team who had bowling experience, as Mr Perry continued to bowl at Victor Harbor,” he said.
“It was many years before we won a game. At that time Alexandrina Association consisted of four clubs – Meadows, Milang, Strathalbyn and Langhorne Creek.”
Jack played a key role in helping to maintain not only Langhorne Creek’s greens, but also others in the area as a result of his creativity with crafting new equipment and willingness to put in the hard work.
“After years with couch grass greens the couch grass gets thatch in it and there was talk of scarifiers,” he said.
“Another member and I got together to make one. We bought a shaft bearing and blades, made a frame out of angle iron from around the farm.
“A safety cover was part of a sheep trough, a lever off a binder to lift it up and down, found some wheels from somewhere and a piece of pipe for the handle. I bought a 6HP engine off my grain auger and it was a growing concern.
“After we dethatched our green Milang asked me to do their green. I took 3 men and barrows to take the thatch away.
“Before dethatching a good green runs at about 9-10 seconds, after dethatching it would run at 12-13 seconds.”
All the meanwhile, Jack continued to develop his game on the green to become one of the top players in the region.
“I think it would be in the 1970’s that the Alexandrina Association was asked by Southern Association pick a team of four to play an interdivision game,” he said.
“We chose one player from each club and I was chosen to skipper this team, which I did for 11 games, we won nine, drew one and lost one.
“I was known for my up shots, my best at that was at Holdfast Bay in a pair’s game, to win the section I dead ended the last end four times straight.”
Despite having achieved just about all there is to do in the game, Jack says he still loves any opportunity to have a roll.
“I have been the Langhorne Creek Singles Champion 12 times and have won many Club Pairs and was the Champion of Champion singles winner twice,” he said.
“I am now nearly 93 years old and still playing with a bowling arm, and enjoying my bowls very much.”