Wayne Crane would have shied away from the attention, but a record 56 teams gathered for an Over 50s Pairs event in his honour at Warilla Bowls.
Crane played 106 Tests for NSW and won 12 Zone 16 Championships in a career at the elite level spanning three decades from the last 1980s.The popular bowler passed away in November 2016 just a few weeks after he and Warilla clubmates Jamie Mitchell and Jeremy Henry won the NSW State Triples crown.
The triumph was all the more special given the trio won three straight Zone 16 Triples titles from 2014-16 and were State runners-up in 2014 and 2015. Warilla Bowls host an Over 50s Pairs in November each year and following Crane's death named the tournament in his honour.
This year a record 56 teams nominated to play six games of 16-end 3 Bowl Pairs, with entry numbers smashing the previous mark of 42 sides. Sponsored by Warrigal, the prize pool of $7,500 included a winner's purse of $3000 and $1500 for the runners-up. But for everyone the best incentive was being out on the green with your mates in a competitive environment again.
Wayne Crane would have smiled with this year's winners his Warilla mates Geoff 'Silver' McGillivray and Jamie Mitchell who were unbeaten on six wins and had the best differential of +79.
Warilla's Roger Duggan and Towradgi's Rod Busst (6wins+64) were a close-up runners-up, with Cabramatta's Gary Corey and Chris Tindal (6wins+55) third.
Ettalong's Dave Brandter and Tim Leslie (5wins+28) were fourth; Lubi Brglevski (Oak Flats)-Jim McKenzie (Warilla) were fifth (5wins+19), with Mal Lyons (Corrimal)- Ray Parkes (Wiseman Park) sixth on 5wins+16.
Among the Illawarra-based Game winners were Jim Green (Albion Park) and Eric Johannes (Paradise Point, Game 1); Geoff Barron-Andy Hamilton (Warilla, Game 3); Alan McDonald (Oak Flats) and Robbie Warren (Wiseman Park) in Game 4, and Dapto Citizens' Chris Green-Trevor Suckley who were tie-break winners of Game 5.
Garry Taylor partnered Warilla clubmate Chris Murray and said the tournament was special in retaining the legacy of Wayne Crane in Illawarra bowls.
''It's great we've an event to remember Wayne,'' Taylor said.
''He was very competitive on the green and a fantastic person to socialise with. He had a dry humour and once you got to know him he was a guy you were proud to call a mate.''
The 2020 Wayne Crane Over 50s included a quarter of entries from outside Illawarra Zone 16 including five teams from Double Bay BC, three from Ettalong, plus teams from Merrylands, Lawson, St Ives, St Johns Park and Wenty Leagues.
Host club Warilla had 15 teams while Wiseman Park, Nowra and Oak Flats combined for 10 entries.The relaxation of rules surrounding COVID-19 meant bowlers were able to get back to playing bowls again - albeit with some restrictions in place - which no doubt led to the record number of nominations.
Sponsored by Warrigal, the tournament had added significance in 2020 given the South Coast's biggest event the South Pacific Carnival has been cancelled due to coronavirus.
The South Pacific Carnival has been running continuously for seven decades and each year featured more than 1000 bowlers from across NSW and interstate.