Kevin racks up 50 in style

Henty veteran Kevin Bourke has been playing for 50 years and still loves it.

Henty veteran Kevin Bourke has been playing for 50 years and still loves it.

Kevin Bourke and a bowling arm. Pictures: DYLAN ROBINSON

Kevin Bourke and a bowling arm. Pictures: DYLAN ROBINSON

HENTY bowling stalwart Kevin Bourke has achieved a massive feat by completing his 50th season of pennant.

Few bowlers in NSW or even Australia have managed such longevity in the game.

Bourke, 86, is still a significant contributor and playing for Henty’s grade seven team in the Albury and District Bowling Association finals this weekend.

He loves playing pennant and said: “It’s the cream of bowls, the keen competition.”

But there came a time just a few years ago when Bourke contemplated retiring after an operation on his bowling hand.

“It got that way I could not hold a bowl. I was about to give the game away,” he said.

He started using a bowling arm, quickly became adept at it and is now playing almost as well as in his earlier years.

Bourke joined the bowling club in 1957, started bowling in 1962 and his pennant career began two years later.

In 1967, he was in a rink skipped by Norm Ehlers and Henty, runner-up in the division three pennant.

Bourke was elected to the committee in 1969 and served for 15 years until being elected president in 1984.

His bowling prowess steadily improved and he skipped a rink in the club’s top team when it won the district grade two pennant in 1972-73.

It was in the mid-1980s that Bourke was picked as skip for one of Albury’s rinks playing in the annual Bing Wallder Shield competition.

There have been many club championship successes over the years and he won the pairs with Des Singe in 1983.

Bourke was runner-up to Peter Forck in the club’s prestige singles event in 1988.

He combined with his wife Terese to win the club’s mixed pairs in 1987, 88, 89, 91, 92 and 94.

Mick Broughan and Bourke were runner-up in the club pairs in 1992 and 1998.

Bourke won the B grade championship in 2003 and was the club’s inaugural “bowler of the year” in 2010.

His contribution to the club was acknowledged with life membership in 1989 and he had three stints as president from 1984-88, 1995-97 and then 2002-03.

He also served as a vice-president of the club for more than 10 years.

One of the greens at Henty has been named after him to recognise his service.

Bourke was instrumental in starting the Jack Odewahn triples for country clubs in 1986 and it is held annually.

Representatives from other Albury district clubs have been invited to attend a function at Henty on April 13 to acknowledge Bourke’s 50 years of pennant play and his efforts at club and district level.