LONG-time Wodonga bowls identity John “Smokey” Dawson is an astute administrator who pulled off a recruiting coup many years ago.
Dawson was president of the Wodonga Bowling Club and set his sights on securing the services of Paul Carey, who was playing regularly in the Victorian team.
Carey was working at Mayday Hills Hospital in Beechworth at the time and playing Ovens and Murray A1 pennant for Myrtleford.
Dawson rang him and offered the job of bar manager-bowls co-ordinator at Wodonga.
Carey accepted the position, moved to Wodonga and has been an integral part of 15 A1 premiership teams in the past 18 seasons.
It is 18 years on Saturday since he started work in the role and he is retiring in the next couple of weeks.
Carey, who turns 66 next month, started playing bowls at Beechworth at the relatively young age of 29 in the 1978-79 season.
He was still playing cricket, but realised he had a long-term future with bowls.
His first pennant appearance was in 1979 and he won three singles championships at Beechworth before moving to Myrtleford in 1992.
That was the year he made his representative debut for the state playing as third for the legendary Bob Middleton.
“I played 18 games with Middleton before he retired,” Carey said yesterday.
“Then I moved to playing third for Phil Godkin.”
He played a total of 101 state games between 1992 and 1997-98.
A prestige invitation singles event was played at Yarrawonga back in the 1980s and Carey won it four successive years before being runner-up in the fifth year.
He won a singles championship at Myrtleford, but the honour has eluded him at Wodonga.
Twice he was runner-up to fellow Victorian representative Ashley Bates, who has dominated the club events for decades.
Carey has skipped in Wodonga’s dominant A1 pennant team since his arrival.
But where he plays in the coming season is still up in the air, even though he will continue living in Wodonga.
His son-in-law Richard Baylis and grandson Mason Baylis are pressuring him to return to his home club and play alongside them in Beechworth’s A3 pennant team.
In recent years, Carey’s role has changed to club manager and he is being replaced by Bob Ellwood, who takes over on August 5.
Ellwood worked at the SS and A’s Winsor Park facility before it closed and more recently has been at the Holbrook RSL Club.