A stel­lar ca­reer in bowls

Talk of the Town - - News - BOB FORD

MEN­TION the name of Harold Bodill in the bowl­ing fra­ter­nity and most peo­ple through­out the Eastern Cape and other parts of the coun­try will im­me­di­ately know who you are talk­ing about.

In an il­lus­tri­ous bowls ca­reer span­ning more than 40 years, Bodill has cer­tainly left his mark. Hav­ing been a mem­ber of all six clubs in the Eastern Ar­eas (EA) sub-district dur­ing his ca­reer, his name boldly ap­pears on all these hon­ours boards. In fact, he has won ev­ery ti­tle he could un­der the EA ban­ner and many at Eastern Prov­ince level.

Born in Ade­laide but raised and ed­u­cated in Gra­ham­stown, Bodill was one of 12 chil­dren. While at Graeme Col­lege he was forced to play rugby. But his main love was foot­ball and he played this for a lo­cal club in the af­ter­noons once his rugby com­mit­ments had been com­pleted on Satur­days. His other love was fish­ing.

Ob­vi­ously fleet-footed, Bodill showed an in­ter­est in ball­room danc­ing and, with one of his sis­ters, joined the well-known Su­dano Danc­ing Academy in Gra­ham­stown. Al­ways com­pet­i­tive, he soon be­came one of their top dancers.

Mean­while, he had joined a lo­cal plumb­ing firm as an ap­pren­tice. On qual­i­fy­ing, he worked with one of his broth­ers un­til he opened his own suc­cess­ful busi­ness. It was then that he met and mar­ried his wife, Meryl. The cou­ple had one daugh­ter and have three grand­chil­dren.

But this mar­riage was to change Bodill’s life, par­tic­u­larly as far as his sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties were con­cerned. His wife’s par­ents were keen bowlers and en­cour­aged him to take up the game. It im­me­di­ately be­came ob­vi­ous that he had a nat­u­ral tal­ent for bowls as he soon made ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers take no­tice of a fu­ture star in the mak­ing. In fact, knowl­edge­able peo­ple in bowls through­out the coun­try still rate Bodill as prob­a­bly the best sec­ond of his time in South Africa.

Bodill soon made his mark when he won his club’s ju­nior sin­gles and then went on the win the EA and Eastern Prov­ince ti­tles, all in the same year. It was im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous that big­ger things were to fol­low and, in­deed, they did. A few years later while still play­ing for Gra­ham­stown, he made bowl­ing his­tory when he won all four EA ti­tles on of­fer for men. These in­cluded the sin­gles, pairs, trips and fours, skip­ping the three lat­ter teams.

While play­ing for the var­i­ous clubs in the EA, Bodill won all the cham­pi­onships he could. He went on to win the fol­low­ing ti­tles at both EA and EP lev­els: open and se­nior sin­gles, the EP masters sin­gles, men’s and mixed pairs, mixed and men’s trips and the fours on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, a feat not achieved by many play­ers.

He also won the EA cham­pion of cham­pi­ons and fol­lowed this up by tak­ing the EP ti­tle in 2010. In 2000 Bodill was in­vited to play in the South African Masters.

Bodill rep­re­sented EA in 15 con­sec­u­tive in­ter-district tour­na­ments and EP about 17 times in na­tional pro­vin­cial tour­na­ments mostly as a skip. They won these tour­na­ments on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.

His wife was also a keen bowler and rep­re­sented EP on two oc­ca­sions. The cou­ple played to­gether in mixed pairs, their most suc­cess­ful re­sult be­ing win­ning the EA com­pe­ti­tion.

Pos­si­bly, Bodill’s great­est achieve­ments on the bowl­ing greens came in 1987 and 2012.

In 1987, Spring­bok Rob Owsley ap­plied to his then club to en­ter a team in the South African na­tional fours, but was not per­mit­ted to en­ter the team of his choice. Fol­low­ing some ill feel­ings it was thus that Owsley broke away from his club and the Langholm club was formed with Owsley invit­ing well-known play­ers Neil Timm, Der­rick Fish and Bodill to join him.

To the bowl­ing world’s dis­may, the team went on to win the na­tional ti­tle. The fol­low­ing ap­peared in a press re­port on the event: “Fledg­ling club Langholm, with its head­quar­ters nes­tled in a val­ley on the farm “The Home” (owned by Timm) sit­u­ated be­tween Gra­ham­stown and Port Al­fred, caused a sen­sa­tion in South African bowl­ing cir­cles by cap­tur­ing the SA men’s fours bowls ti­tle. The last oc­ca­sion an Eastern Ar­eas team achieved this was 50 years ago by Gra­ham­stown”.

The fol­low­ing year, this Langholm team de­fended their ti­tle, only to be nar­rowly beaten in the semi-fi­nal by Spring­bok Neil Bur­kett.

In May, 2012, Bodill qual­i­fied to play in the South African Se­nior sin­gles cham­pi­onships in Port El­iz­a­beth. Pro­duc­ing some of the best bowls of his ca­reer, he won his sec­tion to qual­ify for the fi­nal, which he went on to win in an ex­cel­lent dis­play.

Sadly, Bodill’s health does not per­mit him to play any­more. But he will long be re­mem­bered for his com­pet­i­tive­ness and out­stand­ing abil­ity.

Pic­ture: BOB FORD

A TRUE CHAM­PION: Harold Bodill with the tro­phy he was pre­sented with on win­ning the South African Se­nior Sin­gles bowls ti­tle in 2012

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.