The man to beat in lawn bowls

Tom Donoghue when nominated for the Local Legend Gloucester Sports Award in 2017. Also pictured bowling in Perth.
Tom Donoghue when nominated for the Local Legend Gloucester Sports Award in 2017. Also pictured bowling in Perth.

Tom Donoghue started playing lawn bowls after he finally caved into his neighbour’s persistent pestering.

He was around 25 years old at the time, living in Gunnedah and working as a telegraphist.

His neighbour, aged in his 40s, finally convinced Tom to play in a fours competition with him.

“I won the very first competition I ever played,” he said.

“Then I got hooked.

“I would got down to the club every weekend and play.”

After working hard to past the postmaster course, Tom was successful in getting his first position in the small NSW town, Kandos, south east of Mudgee, where he continued to play bowls. 

Tom was the star of the Kandos Returned Services Community Club taking the men’s singles title consistently.

“I won it every year I was there,” he smiled.

“There were about 14 bowlers in the club and some years they couldn’t be bothered to play and they’d just give me the cup,” he laughed.

When he moved to Gloucester in 1978 to take up the postmaster position, he joined the Gloucester Bowling Club immediately and found himself bowling at a very competitive club.

But it didn’t take him long to start claiming the men’s singles title, with the first awarded in 1982, then again in 1985, 1988, 1989, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001 and finally in 2011 before the 90 year old retired a couple of years ago.

Over the years, Tom has played at a district level and a zone level taking many titles across singles, pairs, triples, and fours. He has helped the club win numerous pennants and has been invited to play in several masters tournaments. In 2017, Tom was nominated for Local Legend at the Gloucester Sports Awards due to his long list of achievements.

Tom enjoys the competitive nature of the game and the club.

“I’m a competitive person,” he said.

“Bowls is 75 per cent skill and 25 per cent luck. If you haven’t got any skill you won’t win, and if you haven’t got any luck, you won’t win either,” he chuckled.

He said he has stopped playing bowls for health reasons.

“But there’s another reason,” he explained. “I don’t want to be beat by the ones I’ve beat,” he joked.

Tom holds the club record with 10 titles, but in 2017, he was matched by Col Hebblewhite.

He admits that if Col wins another one, then Col will be ahead of him.

“But I don’t have the heart to tell him I’ve won a half dozen already at my old club,” he laughed.