Old shirts unwelcome on the greens
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL
IT was the biggest controversy in lawn bowls since Mick Molloy's 'flipper' in the film Crackerjack.
Northern Star bowls columnist Jim Brigginshaw, along with team-mates Bob Hudson and Gary Blaxter, were disqualified from the weekend Iluka Bowls Club championship for refusing to wear new shirts emblazoned with the Bowls Australia logo.
It was the state's first disqualification since the Royal NSW Bowling Association made it mandatory from January 1 for all bowlers playing at pennant level or above to wear uniforms that carried the logo.
The Iluka trio boldly walked onto the greens in their ordinary whites on Saturday afternoon, but were told by bowls committee president Roy (Joe) Young and secretary Vic Reynolds they must don the new shirts or risk disqualification.
A crowd gathered and a flurry of finger-pointing erupted as Mr Brigginshaw argued against the ruling.
"You're depriving the elderly people in your club from playing in a championship because they can't afford a shirt," Mr Brigginshaw told Mr Young.
Mr Young eventually agreed to let the team play socially, but they were disqualified from the championship and unable to vie for a coveted position on the club's winners' board.
The president refused to comment.
Mr Brigginshaw said his team deliberately defied the rules to protest against having to pay up to $60 for new shirts.
"Pensioners have to pay through the nose to buy a shirt with the logo on it, when they have plenty of bowls clothing that was acceptable up to January 1," he said.
"I contend this is discriminating against people who are on restricted incomes and don't have the resources to buy unnecessary clothing.
"The logo scheme has also taken away my freedom of choice."
However, Bowls Australia chief executive officer Mark Rendell said the logo scheme was introduced in 1996 on a 'replacement basis' so new shirts did not have to be purchased until old ones had worn out.
He said, after 10 years, the Royal NSW Bowling Association decided bowlers had been given long enough to buy new shirts and if they still had not done so, they would be unable to play in tournaments at pennant level or above.