Taieri stalwart’s service celebrated

Between them, Wilma and Charles Burrell boast 100 years of active membership with the Taieri...
Between them, Wilma and Charles Burrell boast 100 years of active membership with the Taieri Bowling Club. Charles has been a member for 60 years, and Wilma for 40.
The phrase "for the love of the game" does a good job of summing up Taieri Bowling Club member Charles Burrell’s dedication to the sport.

Burrell (83), was on Saturday recognised for his 60 years of continuous membership as a full playing member of the Mosgiel-based club.

As he was the first member of the club to achieve the feat, and a special plaque and service badge were instigated.

The large crowd present at the Taieri Bowling Clubrooms on Saturday were entertained with some colourful history; stories of characters and happenings from the past 60 years were shared.

Burrell's introduction to the game came about when was publican of the Hotel Taieri. He would host members for after-match drinks at the business, which he managed for 40 years.

A hallmark of Burrell's game is that he still plays with the same bowls he did when he first joined the club at the beginning of the 1959-60 season.

He mentioned that esteemed bowls reporter Alistair McMurran once asked him if he would ever consider getting a new set of bowls.

"I told him that it would be something I'd consider if I ever mastered these ones."

Burrell reflected on a Taieri Bowling Club vastly different from that which it is now.

When he joined, it was just what is now the top green. The bottom green was a croquet club, and was surrounded by macrocarpa.

The same land, before becoming the club’s lower green, was also used to grow tomatoes at one stage.

Alongside the top green, through what is now the club’s car park, ran a railway line — play would at times be interrupted by trains travelling back and forth to the woollen mills.

While Burrell has won numerous pairs, triples and fours titles in club competition, the singles title still eludes him.

He was first selected to represent the Dunedin Centre after he caused two major upsets in its open men's singles championships when he eliminated Commonwealth Games representative Gordon Jolly (Leith) in the round of 16, then in the next round eliminated another international, Neville Hill (Port Chalmers), to progress through to the semifinals.

Burrell was defeated in the semifinals, but his victories over Jolly and Hill had him tapped on the shoulder by selectors to play in an inter-centre competition the following week.

He fondly remembered his best result in the national championships, when he reached the quarterfinals of the national fours.

"We were doing all right until we met a chap called Unkovich," he said of his progress being cut off at the pass by the holder of 10 national titles.

Burrell has been in two fours teams to have won the prestigious Bicardi Cup: in 1974 with Jack Stiles, Arthur Lawrence and Gordon Thompson, and in 2009 with Mike Bankier, Steve Puller and Dan O'Leary.

"I wore the badge I got for 50 years with the club for luck," he said.

This year holds another diamond jubilee for Burrell, as next month he and wife Wilma will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

The couple have three daughters (Linda, Christine and Sandra), three grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Before Saturday evening's presentation, the couple watched their daughter Christine and her husband Lance Robinson miss by a nose a second consecutive Gore Guineas victory with their horse Live Drama.

Last year, the Burrells were part-owners of winning horse Air Max with their daughter and son-in-law.

The Burrells love sport, whether equine or bowls, and say it is a "great way of meeting people and staying active."

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