One of bowls’ many virtues is a unique ability to provide sporting fulfilment, even at the highest levels, no matter what the age of its participants.
A shining example of this is a sprightly Takapuna nana (“Nanny-Annie)” Anne Dorreen, who last month played lead in a composite line-up of otherwise Central Otago bowlers which reached the final of the national women’s fours final in Wellington.
The four was skipped by Margaret O’Connor, whom Dorreen met four years ago playing pennants on the Sunshine Coast in the winter, lost to the composite team of former Black Jack Mandy Boyd. But to make the final was a mighty feat and capped the many illustrious deeds Dorreen has achieved in what has been a comparatively brief span in the sport.
Dorreen has been bowling competitively for barely a decade, yet from the time she started has enjoyed an extraordinary run of successes. This includes nine senior centre titles, gaining her gold star awarded for five titles in just six seasons, winning with O’Connor and another South Islander, Christine Buchanan, the Trusts New Zealand Auckland Open two years ago and third place in the national fours in 2012 while only a third year player when skipped by Sunnybrae’s Mary Gulbrandsen.
Yet when started playing in her mid 50s she could hardly foresee the glory which lay ahead. She and her good friend Rhonda Preston were persuaded to join the Milford club only when their respective husbands, Graham and Tim, took up the game.
Before long the two couples had achieved a rare double. Rhonda and Anne won the Harbour junior women’s pairs and in the same season Graham and Tim Preston won the junior men’s pairs. A little later that season Anne partnered by Tim won the Harbour mixed 2-4-2 pairs, the first of her senior successes, most of which were with the Browns Bay club.
“Until then I actually didn’t know anything about bowls,” Anne says. “I didn’t even know it had a bias.” She puts her remarkably quick progress to constant practice, which she has done for many years as an associate member and now full member at the Takapuna club and also to some early excellent one-on-one coaching by Keith Burgess, with whom she still maintains contact.
The diminutive Dorreen cuts such an athletic figure on the green that it comes as a surprise to learn that, other than social running over half marathons and 10km, she had no sporting background. “I was too busy doing other things and following my children’s sport.” Both Anne and Graham are proud that their three children all represented New Zealand, Kirsteen and Lisa in rhythmic gymnastics and Andrew in junior triathlon.
Nor does she regret not starting bowls earlier and perhaps achieving even greater honours. “As I say, I was busy doing other things,” she says. And despite being graded skip and delighted to have won her club’s champion pairs in that position she’s content playing lead. “My goal early was to make an open team and the best opportunity to do that was as a lead.”
When she started the game, too, she says would never had dreamt of being in a national final. When that did become reality there was disappointment in that because of a vile Wellington wind it became almost impossible to play the precise draw bowls which are her forte. ”But no excuses,” she says. “They were a classy team and Mandy Boyd played some beautiful bowls.”