Let’s hear it for the Roy

May 17, 2018

Roy Rowan also enjoyed plenty of premiership success with Katandra Cricket Club and Katandra Football Club.

Roy Rowan bowled at Katandra West from 1957-1979 and was proud to be included in the Murray Bowls Division Hall of Fame.

After winning nine club championships at Katandra West, Roy Rowan amassed a further 12 at Shepparton Golf to go alongside three at Shepparton RSL.

Roy Rowan is an all-round star sportsman.

Rowan ,85, won four consecutive premierships with Katandra Football Club from 1955-58 and played in Katandra’s cricket premiership in 1953.

But despite all of these achievements, arguably, for the man known as ‘‘Darky’’ his best sporting accomplishments have come on the bowling green.

Having played 990 pennant games — and counting — Rowan was recently inducted into his second hall of fame.

Already an inaugural member of the Goulburn Valley Bowls Division, his name was added to the honour board of the Murray Bowls Division earlier this month.

Again one of the first five members in the new hall of fame initiative by Murray, his work at Katandra West Bowling Club made him an obvious choice.

His first game at the club came in 1957, with his last in 1979 before Rowan gave up being a dairy farmer to move into Shepparton.

Rowan’s father was the reason he first decided to have a roll and from then on he was hooked.

‘‘It’s something I liked as soon as I put the first bowl down,’’ he said.

‘‘My father and mother were members of the bowling club and I worked for Dad and he said one day ‘why don’t you play bowls?’ and I said ‘I’m pretty busy Dad’.’’

Rowan had good reason to turn down a game, with the late 1950s a time where he never sat down for long.

‘‘In 1957 I had a busy year, I was still playing football, I’d just got married in 1955 and our family started in ’56,’’ he said.

‘‘I was starting a dairy farm too, but I finally gave in to a game and I liked it and Dad said ‘why don’t you play pennant with us?’ and I started playing and got in the team that won a premiership in the second year.’’

Rowan played in a rink with his dad and can still remember his team of four going down by eight shots as Katandra West enjoyed the overall victory.

‘‘They were all as old as my father and I was 27 at the time, so they all said if these young fellas are starting to play bowls we won’t get a game,’’ he said.

‘‘It was beautiful, him (dad) and his mate were so happy and they celebrated the old boys.’’

Coming to the end of his football career, Rowan decided to start rounding up his mates to play bowls in a sporting rich area.

‘‘We started to get too old for footy and they (footy mates) started to come in and we finished up with a good side,’’ he said.

‘‘Katandra West was a wonderful sporting area, we were all brothers within a five-mile radius of each other.

‘‘We (football side) were in the end of our four premierships in a row (1958) and we won that premiership and I thought you couldn’t get much better than that.

‘‘I’ve loved it and I’ve been successful.’’

With a dairy farm and a young family, Rowan still found time to play cricket and bowls on the same day, working around the commitments.

‘‘I just used to fit it in on a Saturday, there was night pennant, so we’d milk our cows then go to cricket.

‘‘I don’t know how I did it, but when the kids grew up they milked and my wife would be the chief.’’

By the time he finished at Katandra West, Rowan had accumulated nine club championships and would have the same influence at the newly formed Shepparton RSL.

‘‘They were just starting and my good mates played there and they wanted to start a pennant team, so we went around and we got all the better bowlers that wanted to help and I think in the second year we played we were runners-up to Shepparton in the pennant,’’ Rowan said.

‘‘I had a good three years there and I won three club championships, it was lovely and I was very lucky.’’

But after Shepparton RSL was sent to the second tier, Rowan embarked on the next challenge and pulled on a Shepparton Golf top.

With the legacy of a medal named after him, that indicates his impact there.

Rowan won an astounding 12 club championships and returns to Shepparton Golf each year to hand out his medal to the best pennant player, this year presenting it to John Gribble.

All of his medals and awards are framed and hanging on his wall, with his grand kids gifting the present for his 80th birthday.

Despite all the achievements in the Goulburn Valley and Murray leagues, Rowan could have played a higher level of bowls.

He was invited to trial and play at a state level, but declined with thinking along the same lines as another bowling legend — Keith Warburton.

‘‘I played in three second sides, but I didn’t have any loose time with the family and the farms,’’ Rowan said.

‘‘But I had a wonderful wife and she helped me and I was able to get away (to play in the seconds sides) and I was asked twice if I would be able to play in the state game and I said no.

‘‘They didn’t pay much and Keith Warburton was selected and he told them ‘no, I’m not going, I’d make more money rubbing dogs’.’’

Geoff Sutcliffe, Harold Sweeny, Gordon Grinter and Elaine Chaplin were all inducted as members of the Murray division’s hall of fame alongside Rowan who said Sutcliffe was a clear standout as one of the best bowlers he had played with.

Sutcliffe was Rowan’s coach at Golf as Rowan made the transition from more than 40 years as skip to a second.

But one of the best pieces of advice Rowan received came from bowls champion Don Sherman.

‘‘I didn’t have any coaching, but I was a good learner and Don Sherman told me to be consistent and the luck will come with you and that’s how I worked.”

Now a member at Shepparton Park and with almost 1000 games under his belt, Rowan has barely missed a game during his time, but he had to take last season off for health reasons.

That has not deterred him from going again and he is likely to bring up four figures worth of games when he resumes playing for Shepparton Park when the summer rolls around.

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