Mix­ing it with the best

South Western Times - - Faces & Places - Sam Gibbs

The old say­ing of “bet­ter late than never” is a per­fect way to sum up the me­an­der­ing sports life of State-level bowler Linda War­bur­ton.

Linda, who hails from Aus­tralind, picked up lawn bowls at the age of 46 at the in­sis­tence of her hus­band’s fam­ily, the War­bur­tons – a weighty name in the halls of the Bruns­wick Bowl­ing Club.

“I guess you could say I mar­ried into bowls,” she said.

Linda re­luc­tantly ac­cepted an in­vi­ta­tion from her mother-in-law, Elsie, to play in an event but had con­cerns over the uni­forms be­ing long dresses and pet­ti­coats.

For­tu­nately the dress code had been mod­ernised, which Linda said was prob­a­bly the cat­a­lyst for her join­ing the club.

“I can’t say I loved it and I didn’t play for a cou­ple of weeks after that ini­tial time,” Linda said. “But then I ac­tu­ally thought ‘I think I do quite like this game’ so I went back and I sort of took to it like a duck to wa­ter.”

Linda played at Bruns­wick for six years be­fore be­ing asked to join the Bowls WA Women’s Pre­mier League in Perth – and she said no.

She was asked again the fol­low­ing year and de­cided to give it a shot, com­mut­ing to Perth weekly dur­ing pen­nants sea­son to play for Mos­man Park.

It wasn’t long be­fore Linda was rep­re­sent­ing State squads and now at the age of 63 she has placed sec­ond in WA for ev­ery bowls for­mat in­clud­ing a win in the triples.

As far as big events go, Linda said the proud­est mo­ment of her bowls ca­reer came last year when she and her part­ner Lisa Featherby won the Moama Clas­sic Pairs in NSW.

“Lisa and I won that event and there were some of the best bowlers from around Aus­tralia play­ing, it’s a very pres­ti­gious women’s event,” she said.

How­ever, Linda went through a whole list of sports in her early life be­fore set­tling on bowls and ad­mit­ted to not be­ing par­tic­u­larly good at any of them.

Raised on the fam­ily dairy farm in Roe­lands, Linda said there was not much time for sport while her par­ents ran the Seven Hills Farm, next door to the for­mer Roe­lands Mis­sion.

“We had a great child­hood liv­ing on the farm, we had a lot of free­dom that you wouldn’t see much of these days,” she said.

After at­tend­ing Roe­lands Pri­mary School, Roe­lands High School then Bun­bury Se­nior High School, Linda met her fu­ture hus­band Ross through Ju­nior Farm­ers, now known as Ru­ral Youth WA.

They mar­ried when Linda was 21 and had their first son Craig the day after Ross’ beloved Har­vey-Bruns­wick lost the grand fi­nal to Bus­sel­ton.

“We all went back to the footy club and I re­alised it was time to go and give birth so off we went,” Linda said.

Ross would go on to be­come a life mem­ber of the club after play­ing 160 league games and even served as pres­i­dent with Linda as sec­re­tary for five years.

Linda even­tu­ally fol­lowed up on her goal of teach­ing, study­ing at Edith Cowan Univer­sity Bun­bury be­fore be­com­ing an art teacher at Adam Road and Park­field pri­mary schools. But that was just one of the many hats Linda wore. She also took up pot­tery as a hobby and even opened a craft shop in Bruns­wick called Lin­dels Crafts.

She vol­un­teered with Har­vey Meals on Wheels for a few years, coached and um­pired when her chil­dren were play­ing bas­ket­ball and served as Bruns­wick Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety trea­surer for five years.

Pic­ture: Sam Gibbs

Raised on a dairy farm in Roe­lands and dab­bling in all man­ner of sports, Linda War­bur­ton found her call­ing when she picked up lawn balls at 46.

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