Recent History of CNBC



The last history of CNBC, “50 years at Canberra North Bowling Club”, covered the initial formation and the development of the bowling club over its first 50 years. It’s a fascinating read and copies are still available in the bowls office. CNBC had some golden years, winning many Pennants and other ACT and Zone events. Ken Williams represented NSW and Australia and Jim Murphy represented NSW during that time. Alan Monfries won the Australian Champion of Champion Singles in 1998-99. There are many other achievements worth noting.

It’s time to update the CNBC history for the period from 2009 to 2020.

So many things have happened in the past 12 years at CNBC. Probably the biggest thing was the merger with the ACT Rugby Union Club to form a new entity, the Canberra North Bowling and ACT Rugby Union Club, which happened in November 2014. There is little doubt that this single action has been the basis for survival of CNBC. We now have a Club that is financially secure and making profits. A vote of thanks has to be given to the Club Board and the Managers, Ned and Jeremy. The licenced premises have been improved and are modern and smart. They are attractive to a younger crowd and, while things can get a bit rowdy at times, the club has a buzz to it that is hard to describe. While it can be a bit noisy for the older bowling crew, it’s the younger crowd that brings the money in.

Barefoot bowls has been a lifeblood for the club since the 1990s, providing an income that allows the club to trade profitably. Nowadays we often get over 10,000 barefoot bowlers over the summer season. In 2018-19 they provided income of over $230,000 to the Club. Bowlers have to make some sacrifices during this time but we are alive and well while some other clubs have disappeared or are in trouble.

The next biggest event was that the Club had to shut down completely in 2020 due to the impact of a worldwide pandemic, Covid-19, or the Coronavirus. Fortunately it was only for a short time, but I will come back to that later.

The years from 2009 to 2014 were largely spent trying to ensure that CNBC could stay afloat. There was an initial agreement with the Wests Rugby Union Club and, subsequently, the Southern Cross Club for the management of the licenced premises that seemed to work moderately well, but the Southern Cross Club declined to renew their lease in 2013. This left CNBC looking for other options. A range of alternatives were reviewed by the Board at the time, who recommended a merger with the ACT Rugby Union Club, which was endorsed by the CNBC membership.

During those years bowling membership was fairly static, but for some reason the actual bowling numbers were declining. The membership was aging and quite a few members had retired from active bowling. Various recruitment activities were conducted, including the “Get on the Green” program and work by Terry Bell with the U3A group. But in Annual Reports the President and Secretary exhorted members to seek out possible new members to keep the club going.

Yet there was an air of optimism in the Annual Reports as more members participated in championship events and Pennants. Bert Sheppeard won the ACT Champion of Champions Singles at the ripe old age of 85 in 2009. Bert won the Major Singles at CNBC for the third year in a row in 2010. In 2011 the CNBC team of D Harber, K Burden and G Marks won the ACT Champion of Champions Triples. Our 7’s won the Pennant in 2012. In 2013 our men’s 5’s, 6’s and 7’s Pennant teams were minor premiers, with the 5’s and 6’s taking out the flag.

It is obvious that the office bearers at the Club in those years worked very hard to keep CNBC going. They included Gerry Hiscox, Terry Munro, Ray Storrier, Ron Sotheron, Ray McInnes, Paul Ferrar, Noel Barnsley, Amanda Urbanc, Roger Grylls, Terry Bell, Rob Horner, Graeme Marks, Garry Downs and Rob Rawson. We should all be grateful for what they contributed. It obviously wasn’t easy going as the Club alternated between small profits and losses.

It is clear that a lot of work was done by the Board sub-committee members in setting up the merger with the RUC, especially by Gerry Hiscox, Paul Ferrar, Garry Downs and Ray Storrier.

A new era at CNBC

With the merger of CNBC and the RUC in 2014 we had a new Club. But CNBC was retained as the name under which bowlers compete in Bowls ACT events, including Pennants.

A Bowls Management Committee was established under the new Club’s Constitution to look after all matters related to bowls activities at the new Club. The first office bearers were Gerry Hiscox – President, Rob Rawson – Vice-president, Bryan Hurrell – Secretary, Steve Ayre – Bowls coordinator men, Chris Carcary – Bowls coordinator women, Cal Walters – Championship Director, Terry Bell – Selectors representative men, Lorraine Richards – Selectors representative women and Ray McInnes – Greens representative.

In 2015 an event almost as rare as the appearance of Halley’s comet occurred when Beau Johnston won both the men’s minor singles and the men’s major singles championships. Congratulations Beau on a feat that is unlikely to be replicated.

And our men’s 6’s won the Pennant for that year.

The end of a dynasty

2016 was an interesting year. Gerry Hiscox stood down as President of the BMC after 20 years of leadership at CNBC. The number 2 Green was named the Gerry Hiscox Green to honour his contribution to CNBC over such a long period.

The men’s number 3 Pennant team were able to win the flag after a year-long tussle with Weston Creek for supremacy. The semi-final was played on the Weston Creek synthetic green, which gave a significant advantage to the home team, who were able to win. But the final was played on a grass green at Yass and CNBC was able to get up.

Lyndell Dobbs did CNBC proud by winning the ACT Rookies Tournament in her first year as a bowler. Not bad Lyndell.

And Reg Motbey was made a life member of the Club for many years of service in a variety of positions.

CNBC has hosted an annual mixed pairs tournament to crown the King and Queen of CNBC since 1983. Teams come from other clubs in Canberra to play as well as from NSW. CNBC teams have been dominant in recent years, winning three of the last four tournaments. Kate Schipp and Ray McInnes broke a long drought for CNBC teams by winning in 2016. Denise Seaton and Reg Motbey followed that up by winning in 2017. Bev and Ken Dowrick won the latest tournament in 2019. (There was no King and Queen in 2020 because a worldwide pandemic came along and shut things down)

Some modernisations

In 2017 there were a number of renovations to the licenced club that made it a brighter and more attractive place. The Chief Minister of the ACT launched the new facilities in April.

CNBC changed its uniforms to a new design that most people think is more stylish. If we can’t be bowlers we can at least look like bowlers.

In significant achievements on the bowling greens, Paul Totterdell won the Bowls ACT Singles Championship and the ladies won the Doran bowls. The CNBC team of J Saunders, S Cottle, A Thatcher and K Deeves won the ACT Over 60s Fours. Beau Johnston almost won the grand slam of our Club Men’s Major Championships, but missed out in the Championship fours after winning the singles, pairs and triples.

Some new blood at CNBC

In 2018 we had a bit of an influx of new members following the closure of the Canberra City Bowling Club, which significantly increased the strength of CNBC. We gained many new and enthusiastic members who have made a big difference at CNBC, including becoming members of the Bowls Management Committee. CNBC is a richer place for their presence.

Also in 2018 our ladies won the mid-week No.2 State Pennant. In the same year a composite CNBC/Yass team won the Saturday No.2 State Pennant. In a nice touch, our ladies allowed Yass to keep the flag as they had never won a pennant before. In an even nicer touch, Ned came up with the money to buy a separate flag for our ladies.

Terry Doyle was awarded life membership of the Club, for his outstanding service on the greens over 20 years. We are all very grateful to Terry, the many apprentices who worked with him over the years and, currently, his son Joseph for all the work they have done to maintain the standard of the greens. It isn’t always easy when you think about the extent of the wear and tear from social bowls, Championships, Pennants and of course barefoot bowls. To honour Terry CNBC instituted a new event, the Terry Doyle Day, to be held in January each year. It is a mixed teams event (2 ladies and 2 men) involving men’s and women’s pairs, mixed pairs and mixed fours. The first event was staged in January 2019 and proved to be very popular. Everyone who attended had a most enjoyable day. Unfortunately, the 2020 event had to be cancelled due to smoke haze from bushfires. But we are all looking forward to Terry Doyle Day in January 2021.

Recognition for CNBC stalwarts

In 2019 Lorraine Richards was made a life member of the Canberra North Bowling and ACT Rugby Union Club in recognition of her long and outstanding service to the club. Well deserved Lorraine.

One of our long serving members, Ray McInnes, was honoured by Bowls ACT with a testimonial day which was held at our bowling club. Not only has Ray given great service to CNBC over many years, as both a very fine bowler and administrator, he has served the broader ACT bowling community in a range of ways, including his work with Bowls ACT. As you would expect with someone of Ray’s standing at CNBC, there was a very high turn out of members and it was a very good day.

Tony Barry, Dave Hill and Rob Kelly won the ACT Champion of Champion Triples. Gina Dowley won the ACT Rookies Tournament. Ian Hueston and Peter White won the ACT Over 60s Pairs from another CNBC team of Bill Pollock and Terry Munro. So not a bad year for CNBC bowlers.

A very strange year

2020 started off like any other year, with members attending wild New Year’s celebrations and making resolutions they would never keep.

There was little to indicate the wacky year that was to become an annus horribilis for a lot of people. First, we had severe bushfires throughout eastern Australia. There was constant smoke haze across many Australian cities, including Canberra. Social bowls and various competitions had to be cancelled because the air quality was in the toxic range. People had to check in with ACT Health each day to see whether it was safe to go outside. We began to see people wearing facemasks to protect themselves, a practice that would be repeated only a couple of months later, but for a different reason.

Australia survived the bushfires as it has done so often before, but then rumours began to emerge of a deadly virus that was spreading in China. This was the first we heard about something that was to become a worldwide pandemic and shut down whole countries.

The ACT went into lockdown in March, along with the rest of Australia, in an attempt to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus – Covid-19.

The bowling club was shut down and members couldn’t get their regular bowls fix, with many suffering severe withdrawal symptoms. For a couple of months people could only go out to the supermarket to try and find essential supplies. But this wasn’t easy as nervous nellies had started hoarding anything they thought they would need if they had to go into isolation. If you could find pasta, noodles, rice or tinned goods at the supermarket you considered yourself blessed. And toilet paper became a luxury product available only to some. At one time toilet paper became more valuable than gold.

Eventually supermarkets placed limits on lots of products and shopping became a high risk activity, with people battling away for the limited merchandise. Physical confrontations were not uncommon as an air of desperation gripped the country. It was all a bit unreal.

The only good thing was that the breweries were designated as essential industries and allowed to keep operating. So at least there weren’t any shortages of alcohol during the lockdown. Many people used home delivery services to get their essential goods. Clarkie (Neil Clarke) had to self-isolate for 14 days after he returned from Thailand and wasn’t allowed out of the house at all. Luckily for him his son wasn’t living at home and so was able to do beer runs for his dad. My own lazy son still hadn’t got his licence so I had to do my own beer runs.

To keep members in touch during the lockdown the Secretary at the time sent out a daily email giving his inane views on goings on in a crazy world. Other members put up posts on Facebook, including some memorable indoor bowls games that both amused people and kept the members bowls-ready for the time when we could finally get back on the greens.

We managed to get back on the greens in May, but under strict Covid-safe guidelines. Bowls were restricted to 2 hours and we could only play on every second rink to ensure safe social-distancing. All equipment had to be sanitised before and after games and you couldn’t even shake hands with your partner or opponents. Despite all the restrictions bowling numbers were very good. I think people just needed to get out again after being locked up for 2 months.

Covid restrictions were eased in June and bowls got back to more like normal. We were able to play club championships, but due to lost time we could only fit in the major championships. Social bowls attracted large numbers.

Men’s and women’s Pennants were cancelled due to concerns about the worldwide pandemic, probably a first for the ACT.

Bowls in 2020

We had some success on the bowling greens in 2020 despite all the disruptions from bushfires and worldwide pandemics. Beau Johnston, Nathan Savino and Rob Kelly won the ACT Triples Tournament. Hilary Merritt won 2 of the 4 Women’s Club Major Championships, the singles and pairs.

But surely the highlight of 2020 on the greens was that Nathan Savino created CNBC history by becoming the first player at CNBC to win all 4 Major Championships in the same year. A large crowd attended for the final of the Men’s Championship Fours to see whether it could be done. No disrespect to the opposition but it was a very popular victory. Congratulations Nathan

Despite all the strange happenings in 2020, I believe there is a sense of optimism at CNBC. The club is doing well financially. We have attracted a number of new bowling members during the year. Our Pennant teams were doing well before the worldwide pandemic arrived. Members are offering to contribute to the club’s operations in a range of ways.

I hope you find the history of CNBC interesting. But it is the future of CNBC that I am looking forward to. At the annual meeting of bowling members I posed a challenge to our members. Think not what CNBC can do for you, but instead what you can do for CNBC. That challenge holds. I honestly believe we can make CNBC the best bowling club in our region. It’s up to our members to make that happen.

Mark Carter

President Bowls Management Committee






Always respect your elders

One younger member, no names no packdrill, learned a hard lesson on the green one day when he thought he would gee-up one of our oldest and most esteemed members. He gave our doyen a dig in the ribs from behind, but the senior member spun around and gave him two lightning quick jabs on the kisser. The lesson was that you should always show respect for your elders, especially when they have a good one-two punch in their repertoire.

Next time catch an Uber

A younger member who didn’t mind a cold beer on a hot day had had a few one evening. He sensibly decided to walk home rather than drive. But he showed less sense in deciding to walk across the stormwater drain out the back of the club house. For some reason our member didn’t notice that the drain was doing its job and channelling a torrent of rainwater off to wherever it goes. Our member nearly got washed away and had to swim for his life. Fortunately he was able to grab on to a railing and pull himself out, or we would have been attending his wake at the bowlo the following week.

The bright young thing

Andrew Grant left us in 2019 to move home to Newcastle and be closer to family.

A younger Andrew Grant arrived at CNBC in 2000 after he transferred from the Australian Taxation Office in Sydney to the national office in Canberra. In fact, Andrew was recruited by me to be a part of my team which was working on aspects of tax reform after the introduction of the GST.

Andrew was a pretty fair bowler, having played first grade Pennants and even a game of Premier League in Sydney. When ACT Pennants came around our selectors put Andrew in our 5th grade team for the first game. The next week Andrew was selected in our 1st grade team. It was a good correction by the selectors.

In the ones Andrew was allocated to club legend Bert Sheppeard’s team as a number 3. Eager to impress, Andrew asked Bert what it was he expected and needed from his number 3 bowler. Bert’s answer was, “Be up and shut up!” You can’t get much clearer advice than that.

Apparently in his first game in the ones Andrew was studying the head closely so that he could advise Bert what to do and nearly got taken out as Bert’s bowl arrived. Some skips just don’t need a lot of advice.

Odds on look on

I had only been at CNBC for a couple of months when I got a big surprise to find I was scheduled to play the following Saturday in the handicap singles. It was a surprise to me because I hadn’t entered. It turns out that Cotts (Steve Cottle) had entered my name, but somehow had forgotten to tell me. I had to race around and find a club uniform so I could play.

Guess who I was drawn to play. Coincidentally it was Cotts. Whoever was doing the handicapping at the time wasn’t very generous to a brand new bowler and only gave me a 5, which only gave me a 2 shot start over Cotts. But bowls is a funny game and despite Cotts being the odds on favourite, and much to the surprise of bookmakers, I was able to win the game. It reminded me of the good advice my old daddy gave me when I was young. “Never bet odds on son and never run up stairs.” (I just wish I had taken some of the 50-1 the bookies offered about my chances)

For some reason Cotts never entered me for a tournament after that.

How to get a perfect score at bowls

Most people probably think a perfect score is an 8 in a fours game. But Lorraine Richards once told me about how the ladies were playing a tournament where they played 3 bowl triples. On one end the opposition had 6 bowls in the ditch and only 2 on the rink when their skip came up to play her last bowl. Would you believe it, she took out her team’s 2 bowls and ended up in the ditch herself. The ladies ended up with a perfect 9. So that’s how you do it.

That’s one big mother of a bird

When I first arrived at the Club a powerful owl ruled the roost at CNBC. It was a pretty big bird and kept the local possum population under control all by itself. It didn’t mind the odd cockatoo as a snack either. People came from all over Canberra and even interstate to catch a sight of this magnificent bird. Then for some reason the owl moved on and hasn’t been seen since. We all hope that it didn’t befall fowl (sic) play. I like to think he found a nice lady owl and settled down to raise a family of little owlets.

Do you ever go home?

You’ve probably heard of a few members over the years that they virtually live at the club because they always seem to be there. But did you know that a couple of members, apparently related, actually slept in the club house often enough to make it almost a home. I’m not sure if they paid rent or whether they had a special class of membership.