It isn't about the prize money at all but one thing you can be dead sure of - there's never any shortage of some fair dinkum ribbing.

"The bloody 'Gnomes' fell off their fishing rods," No 2 Jim Hagan said yesterday after he, skip Malcolm Stockwell and lead Eddie Liefting beat defending triples champions composite side of skip Ken O'Neil, brother/lead Pat O'Neil and Kevin Ives.

It was in stark contrast to how the hosts' triples team played last year in the revived President's Day tournament at Bowls Napier when the vertically challenged "Gnomes" trio stole the limelight.

Said the "baby" of the new champions, Hagan: "I'm not sure if we played together at all last year."


The 64-year-old retired accountant got nods of endorsement from Stockwell, 73, and Liefting, 72.

"We were also-rans," said retired insurance manager Stockwell, originally from Palmerston North and father of Wellington Blaze cricketer Andrea Stockwell.

The three yesterday tamed the immaculate greens of their home club, beating the Dudley Hunt-skipped Bowls Havelock North unit, Mary Evans-skipped fellow Napier club mates and the Tom Howard-skipped Port Ahuriri side before overwhelming the Ken O'Neil-skipped trio 16-7 in the last match of the day.

The club revived the one-day tournament last year after a five-year recess.

Forty-two teams of threes converged on three greens to see which unit was left standing in the day-long tourney.

Stockwell selflessly championed the contribution of his teammates.

"Eddie led very well and he's a junior who has only been playing for three years," he said of the retired Napier taxi driver who stopped flicking the tariff meter almost 20 years ago.

"When Eddie wasn't there [showing the way on the greens as lead] Jim backed him up," Stockwell said of the youngest member who lived and worked in Dannevirke before shifting to Napier several years ago.


So what did the skip do then?

"Oh, I played a couple of decent ones."

Laughter prevailed among the trio before Hagan quipped: "I can't remember them but I'm sure you did."

The trio didn't go through the motions of elite athletes when they rolled out of their beds yesterday morning or even when they polished their bowls before rolling out the mats.

No, for them it was simply a matter of unadulterated gratification.

"We just come down to enjoy ourselves and have fun.

"You do as well as you can on the day because any number of those teams out there can win on their day," said Stockwell, who gravitated to Napier because another daughter and grandchildren live here.

Incidentally, Liefting maybe a junior compared with Hagan's 30 years and Stockwell's 20 in the code but he is still bowls savvy.

That's because he has played indoor bowls for almost a decade.

Asked why the switch to outdoors, Liefting replied: "I enjoy it and there are so many variables such as the weather, wind and grass."

Hagan said the competitive edge to the excellent camaraderie was pivotal.

Age, of course, negated relative physical advantages between males and females prevalent in many other sports.

Bowls Napier has a plan to launch a format of speed bowls, akin to Twenty20 cricket, golf croquet, throttle jumping (equestrian), sevens rugby and Fastnet netball.

It's not for the trio but they certainly see the urgent need for the code to reform or become sporting dinosaurs.

Said Hagan: "I may sound a little old-fashioned in saying [traditional] bowls is what I'm used to but it's certainly not an exaggeration to say it's a dying sport."

The champions will return next year "God willing".