The Wimmera Bowls Association 2019/20 season is well and truly off and running, Midweek Pennant kicked off on the last day of September and has now played two rounds and Weekend Pennant had an interesting first round last Saturday.
The big change in Weekend Pennant has been moving to twelve a side, playing three rinks, after previously being sixteen a side and having four rinks of four.
It is probably the biggest change to bowls in the area since unification and the almost universal move to synthetic greens.
It has changed the dynamics of many teams, some long time skippers are now playing as thirds, and some very good bowlers may have played in lower grades for the first time.
The other big move in Weekend Pennant is the resurgence of the Horsham Golf Bowling Club.
"Build it and they will come" they said in the movie Field of Dreams, the rebuild of their facilities, new synthetic green, beautiful surrounds and finally their own clubhouse, has helped Golf gain around ten new bowlers, including names like Batchelor, Robinson, Stephan, Deleeuw and Galvin to offset the loss of Gannon, the club now fields sides in all Divisions and scored a century in its first up Division 1 victory over Kaniva.
They don't hand out Premierships in October, (even though that is the only month Collingwood have been able to win them in in the last 60 years), but the indefatigable Ken Walters and his team of workers can enjoy whatever success comes their way.
While on the subject of facility upgrades, the Sunnyside Club will soon have the use of two new synthetic greens, and credit to that club for fielding a fifth side in Weekend Pennant, to make them the only club putting sixty bowlers out each Saturday.
In other Weekend Div 1 matches, Sunnyside 1 went down by just two shots to the 'Dynamic Dozen' from Horsham City 1, Nhill had a very valuable four shot win over the reigning premiers Coughlin Park on the Parkers grass fortress, and Dimboola had a good win over Coughlin Park 2.
In the ten team Division 2, the two grand finallists from last season both lost their first game. Goroke too good for Sunnyside 2, a very powerful City 2 took care of Natimuk, Golf 2 wheeled it up to Edenhope 1 in their first outing but couldn't overcome a big win by Wayne Caldows rink.
In the other two matches Sunnyside 3 beat last years Div 3 Premiers Dimboola who must be admired for stepping up a Grade, and Coughlin Park 3 went down at home to Nhill 2.
In Weekend Division 3, the two Horsham City sides didn't drop a rink, with victories over Edenhope and Kaniva second sides, the two Sunnyside teams had wins over Nhill 4 and Golf 3 and Nhill 3 was too good for Coughlin Park 4 despite a fighting win by Jimmy Cortesi and Judy Bryan's rink.
Midweek Pennant has six teams in Division 1 which has twelve a side, and there are eight teams in Division 2 and they play with eight bowlers in that grade.
In all 136 players take to the greens on Monday morning in midweek pennant, a combination of female and male bowlers (as is Weekend Pennant), but in Midweek Pennant male bowlers cannot play any higher in the order than third, which effectively means they are not allowed to play as "skip", or have the last two bowls.
Due to a glitch in Bowls Victoria's scoring system, full results for Round 2 are not available, but first round winners in Div 1 were Nhill, and Dimboola and City 1 each had one shot wins over Coughlin Park 1 and Sunnyside 1.
In great signs for an even competition, in Round 2 Sunnyside and Dimboola played a draw, Coughlin Park defeated Nhill and City got over Kaniva.
Div 2 first round winners were Natimuk, who also got the chocolates in round 2, and Goroke, Coughlin Park 2 and Servicton.