North Albury’s grade six pennant side has returned from its first state finals appearance full of pride.
It will encourage others to want to go and that’s what I’ll be trying to instil into our bowlers.
The Albury and District and Zone 8 champions were unable to post a victory at the event in Tamworth against fierce competition in Nelson Bay, Dapto Huntley and Scone Bowling Clubs, but knew they were always going to be up against it.
The Hoppers suffered a 49-73 loss to Dapto Huntley in game one, followed by a close 55-64 defeat to Scone and proved no match for Nelson Bay, who finished 90-30 winners.
North Albury president and grade six player John Eddy admitted their opponents were at a much higher level.
“There was a skip from Nelson Bay in the last game we played who was playing grade three two years ago,” Eddy said.
“We were wondering how could a guy be in grade three two years ago and they said they had a Kiwi international and two state players in their grade one side, plus other players that are close to that standard.
“They’ve got grade one, three, four, five, six and two sevens, but clubs are allowed to downgrade four players a year.
“Because their top side is so strong and people probably wouldn’t get a game, they put in a downgrade for them, which is how they get so strong across all grades.
“They’re bowling on 17 speed greens all the time, maybe a bit faster, but we can’t blame the greens, our standard of bowls here just isn’t the same.
“We played in the district and played against the zone sixes and won and I don't think any other clubs from here would have done much better than us.
“But the experience and the friendships made and just to say that you’ve been there was huge.
“We never had a bad word after the games, we all sat around had a few drinks in the evening and mixed with the others teams, it was great.”
Eddy is hoping it can be the start of something special for the club and will help drive it to future success.
“It will encourage others to want to go and that’s what I’ll be trying to instil into our bowlers,” he said.
“We want to aim for it, regardless of whether we can win or not.”
Nelson Bay eventually progressed to the grade six state final, but were surprisingly beaten 61-52 by Taree Railway.