Glenn Thatcher’s passing a loss to the bowls community

By Liam Nash

Glenn Thatcher and his moustache made an immediate — and lasting — impression on the Goulburn Valley bowling community.

Not just for his fierce competitive spirit on the greens, but for the mate he was to everybody when he did not actually have a bowl in his hand.

And for his singularly individual style — once met he was rarely forgotten.

While clubmates and opponents have an unlimited supply of stories about games with and against him, it is the stories about him that will do the rounds much longer.

Though competitive, he was the sort of salt of the earth bloke who everybody seemed to get around, according to GV bowls legend Mark Ryan.

“He was a funny guy; a big, happy-go-lucky fella,” Ryan said.

“Glenn was very social, loved a cold beer and everyone who ran into him loved him and thought he was a fun bloke to be around.

“Whether you were playing against him or with him he was the same; competitive, but always laughing and having a good time.”

Ryan recalls an anecdote which he said summed up Glenn’s character to a tee.

“Sometimes when he’d knock off work painting, he’d come down in his thongs and he would be buggered,” Ryan said.

“He’d say, ‘I’m not bowling tonight, I’ve had enough’, so he’d crack a can and watch you.

“He only got away with it because that was him.

“We played in the Goulburn Valley side together, it wasn’t that long ago we won the best performed rink in the GV Challenge against the Murray League in the Central Division.

“It wasn’t just the Goulburn Valley where he knew people, he had friendships far and wide across the state through bowls.”

Everyone agreed when the 62-year-old lost his battle with cancer on July 31 the local bowls landscape lost one of its favourite sons.

A fervent Hawthorn fan, a determined competitor and a bloke who saw the value in a cold beer, Glenn was a mainstay for Mooroopna and Shepparton Park for the past two decades, as well as playing pivotal roles in various Goulburn Valley representative sides during his years in the sport.

No matter whose green he was playing on, Glenn’s ability to spin a yarn with those around him made him a magnet.

Close mate Jeff Anselmi spotted the trait in Glenn when he first graced the greens of Mooroopna Bowls Club — as well as a natural capacity for the sport.

And he delivered as a vital part of the side, and sure enough, a decade on Glenn would play a hand in one of its most storied triumphs.

“Glenn came to Mooroopna in 2000 when he transferred from Mooroopna Park, and he definitely showed promise that he could cut it at a higher division,’ Anselmi said.

“He was a vital member of the team which won the division one pennant in 2011-12.

“That was the first division one championship Mooroopna had won — it was a big moment and Glenn was part of that.”

Glenn’s influence at 13 Echuca Rd was undeniable — his club singles championship was his crowning achievement among the raft of club and competition awards he collected along the way.

His knack for stringing quality performances together in the white and blue marked him for the talent he was.

But that was only half the Glenn Thatcher story.

This people person would give an outstretched arm to many committees — as well as a mate at the bar after a day’s play.

His style was so irresistible it proved enough to sway Ryan to join him in the trenches at Mooroopna Recreation Reserve.

“I played with Glenn at Mooroopna when I coached there for three years — he was the reason why I went in the first place,” Ryan said.

“We were chatting over a few drinks at one bowls tournament, he said he was looking for a coach, and that was it.”

The pair would share success — and good times — on and off the greens for years.

Glenn later moved from Mooroopna to join son-in-law Simon Carter at Eaglehawk, but was eventually coaxed back to the region by friends at Shepparton Park.

And the successes kept coming.

He was a part of two division one grand finals with Park and although his side lost both, Glenn was compensated with two club pairs championships.

Anselmi, who spent plenty of hours next to Glenn on GV greens, said he loved every minute of it.

“Personally, I played a lot of bowls with him, we had many very enjoyable times together — he was very well known and respected,’ he said.

“The times when we travelled together it was incredible just how many people he knew, and how many knew him throughout Melbourne and country areas.

“From a club perspective he will certainly be missed; not only in bowls, but socially — that was a big part of his life.”

Dave Hardie was another who fought side by side with Thatcher in a premiership at Shepp Park, and like others, viewed Glenn as a top tier bowler and friend.

“We were pretty close, Glenn and I,” Hardie said.

“He came over from Eaglehawk and was a great acquisition, because he could skip and was a very good player.

“Glenn, Denis Smyth and I won the Goulburn Valley, Murray League and Central League triples. Then we went to Bendigo to the state titles where we came third, that was just two years ago.

“Until you got to know him, he was very quiet. He wanted to get to know you before he became friendly with you.”

While some saw a hard exterior, beneath it was a heart of gold.

The big, moustachioed, sometimes gruff, but ultimately likeable man had just as much of an impact off the greens as he did on them.