George Maguire is a well known Sawtell resident and a champion lawn bowler. He shares his passion for the sport and his local club.
How long have you been a part of the Sawtell community?
For roughly 37 years now, and I’ve been a part of the Sawtell Bowling club for around 34 years.
What do you like about the Sawtell community?
It’s a very friendly place, Sawtell. You walk up the street and you know everybody. I come in to the club and I know everybody … it’s just a nice peaceful spot here.
You first started playing bowls down in Albury and have been playing for years. What got you hooked on the sport in the first place?
I don’t know what it was, really. I think it was just that everyone was playing, and they talked me into it. I was the youngest member at the club in Albury at the time, and I’ve been playing regularly ever since.
And you still play regularly?
Yes, I play twice a week, on Wednesday and Fridays. I just play socially these days, generally as part of a men’s team. I don’t play championships anymore … I’m too old now!
But you have won some tournaments in your time, haven’t you, George?
Yeah, I’ve won a few. I don’t want any recognition for anything, but I did win a few. I won the Major Fours here at Sawtell 7 times; I think that might be a record, actually. The first one I won here in 1979, and it finished in about 1993. I only played with the same team twice, and the rest were with different blokes.
You get to meet everybody when you play with different teams. I really like the friendships that you can make in bowls. It’s a very friendly game … if you lose, you come in and have a beer; and if you win, you do the same thing!
So what is your favourite thing about lawn bowls?
Friendship, more than anything. Since my wife died and I was home on my own, it’s given me a good place to go and enjoy good friendships. I can play bowls and come down here and have a couple of social drinks. It’s great.
You were on the Board of Directors here at Sawtell for a while, weren’t you?
Yes, I was on the Board of Directors here for three years. It was pretty hectic. The wife used to go crook all the time, because I’d get home from meetings late at night – and she wasn’t very happy! So that lasted three years, and then I decided it was time to just get back in to the fun of lawn bowls.
But we’ve had a lot of highlights at this club. While I was on the Board, we spent something like $1.5 million on the extensions down the back, and I think that really made the club and attracted people here. We had 100 here playing on one day last week, which is a big number for this area. It has really flourished at this club.
Lawn bowls is a bit of a tricky sport, but you make it look so easy! What’s the secret?
I don’t think there’s any secret – just practice I would say. But I’m not one to practice … well, not now anyway! I guess the trick is to not aim directly at the kitty up the other end. You generally point your feet a little bit towards the side that you’re going to bowl, and it helps you take a bit of grass – and that’s how you pick it up.
What about the weight?
Actually, the weight most probably is the easiest … it comes to you. If you’re short or long, after a while you can pick the weight and correct it yourself.
What do you think about bringing juniors up through the ranks?
There are not a lot of juniors here, but young people still do play – more so in the city than here. The Club at Sawtell does have a Juniors Program. Frank Gradson’s wife, Pat, passed away maybe 12 months ago, and she left $5,000 for the junior bowlers in this club – and that has helped to promote it.
It’s very hard to encourage juniors to get involved with the sport when you live around the coast like thi,s and they want to get out and surf and do more active sports.
So aside from winning all those tournaments, what have been the highlights for you so far?
Over the years I can say it’s been wonderful. When my wife was alive, I talked her into playing, and she played here for years. You meet a lot of people through lawn bowls, and that’s the greatest part of it.