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ALEXIA.JOHNSTON
@alliedpress.co.nz

A “social history disguised as bowls” has hit the shelves in the Maniototo.

The book, titled Roll Up – a History of the Patearoa Bowling Club, also features stories and pictures from the Maniototo sub-centres of Naseby, Ranfurly, Orangapai, Waipiata and Middlemarch clubs.

Author and bowler Jim Sullivan said the book looked at the sport’s social history, not how people played bowls.

It also features a selection of photos, including one of a game being played by men in the early 1900s dressed in suits and top hats, while some smoked a pipe.

Another photo, taken on the opening day of the Patearoa Bowling Club in 1949, shows Mary Hall preparing for her round attired in a dress, high heel shoes and hat.

Mr Sullivan said many members enjoyed successful rugby and cricket careers and went on to play bowls, which they saw as “an attractive outlet for their competitive and sporting instincts”.

Story-telling . . . A range of stories features in the book about bowling in the Patearoa area. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

“However, the idea that bowls is a sport only for old men, which in recent years has been firmly rejected, was no more valid in the 1940s,” he said in the book.

Mr Sullivan said bowling clubs often had a strong following of dedicated members, making them one of the last sporting codes standing in rural centres.

However, that did not mean they did not have their challenges, he said.

“No club was set up without a bit of struggle getting the bowling greens . . . but you have situations [like] when the Patearoa Bowling Club was short of money in 1951. All the farmers were asked to make a donation on the very week that wool prices trebled. The farmers were able to bail the club out without any trouble.”

Mr Sullivan has enjoyed writing the book.

“You are learning about the wider community, men and women, young and old,” he said.

Roll Up is available from club members and Ranfurly’s book store.