January 20, 2011
Tom Crispin walked into the old Belmont Bowling Club in 1977 on the instigation of secretary Bob Shearman, who was a colleague at the Railways. "I was just after a game of darts," he recalled. "But it didn't take long to get into bowls."
Two lessons from Arthur Edwards saw him right to go, and he was soon in the pennant side.
Treasurer of the Utility and Non Sporting Dog clubs at the time, Crispin spent much of his weekends showing his shitzu at country shows, so his was a measured progression onto the bowling scene. It was a busy time for Tom, with the raising of funds to build a new Canine Centre in Gosnells a time- consuming involvement. After raising sixty eight thousand dollars for the cause, he turned his attention to Bowls.
Tom Crispin won two singles championships at Belmont and has grabbed four more at Belmont City, with Laurie Trewern has taken off seven club pairs events in eight years, and has won everything the clubs can offer, as well as being named Bowler of the Year nine times in fifteen years at Belmont City.
He has had success in many country carnivals, including Pickering Brook and Dalwallinu, and has been a member of Western Australian Railway Institute sides competing in Interstate Carnivals in every State and New Zealand.
L/R: Milton Sims, John Mitchell, Tom Crispin, Keith Leggett competing in a carnival at the Upper Hutt Bowling Club in New Zealand
It was in the Fifties that Tom, asked to exercise a horse as a favour to a friend, was handed a piece of hosepipe. "What's that for?" he asked. "To quieten him down," was the reply.
The horse broke down soon after, and Tom thought that was the end of his equestrian association.
To his surprise, he was presented with that trusty steed with a pronounced limp, saddle, bridle, and blanket for nothing soon after by the owner, obviously anxious to rid himself of the animal. A racehorse named Lord Agrion, Tom rode it around the bush at Newburn on weekends. The limp gradually disappeared, so he put him into training, got into the swing of horse riding, and got his amateur license.
He entered Lord Agrion in the Hunt Club Cup at Belmont, only to see the leg go a mile from home. "We still ran second," said Tom. The following year he and Lord Agrion won the Hunt Club Cup.
After the horse broke down once again, Tom put him into the paddock, but was soon approached by Lois Lawrence(later Lois Taylor, mother of leading trainer of today, Jim) to take on the ten year old Melters Glory, a well bred horse who had once been nominal favourite for a Perth Cup. The pair won the Hunt Club Cup that year.
Crispin gave the horses away soon after because of increasing weight.
His riding wasn't confined to horses, he was a keen bicycle racer, and was second in a Lowry Memorial event at Collie. In his spare time he also did rifle shooting at Bassendean and Kalgoorlie.
Tom retired from the Railways after thirty nine and a half years service, starting as a junior clerk and moving to various sections involving stints at Midland, Kalgoorlie, and Northam.
Among the tales he recounted were several involving one particular young workmate who will go nameless. "Back in the days when smoking was allowed, this bloke threw his cigarette butt in the bin and stomped on it to put it out. His foot got stuck in the bin and the fire got his trouser leg, causing much consternation.
Then there was the time he went courting. It was going alright until he noticed she was breathing heavily so he took her home thinking she was asthmatic. There was also the transfer to Narrogin, which no one wanted. To be fair to all, a draw out of a hat was conducted, with this bloke's name the one on the drawn slip of paper. Little did he know that his name was on every slip."
Tom also told us about the bowler who was given two stickers for his bowls and came back for two more. Asked why, he replied that he'd put the two stickers on each side of one bowl. "How will you know which is the bias side?" was the obvious query, to which came the reply: "never thought of that."
Tom spent a lot of time on the committee at Belmont, at one particular time being President, secretary, and treasurer, but got the edict from his wife when the move to Belmont City took place: "No committees!" He has slightly transgressed, being a selector for twelve years.
Crispin nominated Robbie Ball as the best player he'd seen. "Brilliant bowler and nice bloke," But he has a lot of time for Henry Slawinski. "Henry's what it's all about," he said. "He's beaten cancer and is still out there playing." Another bowler Tom admired was a mate named Ted Oversby. Ted had trouble with his eyes, and sometimes, if the kitty was moved, he didn't know where it had gone.
"I won two club pairs at Belmont with Ted and four club fours with Ted playing third, then another two club pairs at Belmont City before he had to give it away," Tom said.
Tom Crispin has two sons, Peter, CEO of Dalwallinu Shire Council, and Steve, who has just played his three hundred and fiftieth game with Tuart Hill Cricket Club.
"I've had a great life, done a few things, and these days love being part of the bowling club," he said.
"Handy" is how he described himself as a player.
The man who rode two Hunt Club winners at Belmont and was runner up in the Lowry Memorial is still more than a handy bowler at the age of seventy five, and is looking forward to many more country carnivals.