Men’s Country Week
Country Week as an organised Carnival for country bowlers was inaugurated in 1928 with country Championships in singles, pairs and fours held at Easter.
The first carnival attracted 68 singles entries, 36 pairs and 18 fours. All three events were won by participants from the Beverley Club. The Singles championship was won by D G Adamson, the Pairs by H S Naismith and J Diprose and the Fours by A A McManus, D G Adamson, H S Naismith and J Diprose.
The same club winning all three events is a rare achievement but it has been done on six occassions. 1928 by Beverley, 1946 by Northam, 1951 by Boulder, 1957 by Balingup, 1970 by Bunbury and the most recent by Northam in 1982.
Aussie Bailey created Country Week history representing Balingup in 1957 when he won the singles, captained the winning Pairs with Jim Stapleton and also the Fours with Jim Stapleton, Tom Glendinning and Bill Ellis.
Wally Stewart is the only other player to have all three events in the same year representing Northam in 1946. He led in the Pairs for Bill Matthews and was also lead in the Fours with Charlie Hatswell, Bill Beer and Bill Matthews, as well as winning the singles.
In more recent times the name Keith Doncon has appeared in the winner’s honor roll than anyone else. This Wickepin stalwart has won the singles five times, pairs once and fours three times.
The Bignell Memorial Shield was originally presented in 1958 and based on a points system and is awarded to the most successful club across all three disciplines. A new shield renamed the P.S. Bignall Perpetual Memorial Shield was made available from 1968 onwards. The strong Bunbury Club has won it on a record eight occasions.
The WA Matthews Trophy named after the late W H Matthews is also awarded to the club which provides the Singles Champion. Last years winner Kaleb Walding from Karratha is the youngest ever winner at just 16 years of age.
Additional interest in the Country Week Carnival has been generated by the annual Country Allstars versus State Squad. This popular competition is a pipe opener to Country Week and always attracts a large crowd of supporters and spectators.
Women’s Country Week
The first official Country Week Carnival for women was held in the 1945-1946 season with approximately 100 players competing in Singles, Pairs and Fours.
Northam took a clean sweep with the winners of the Pairs competition Mrs Williams and Mrs Green and the Singles Champion Mrs Williams, there is no record of the Fours winners for the inaugural year.
1946-1947 again saw Northam in the winners circle with the winners of the Fours competition being Mrs D Orr, Mrs R Neill, Mrs B Wiltshire and Mrs M Elder of Northam. 1947-1948 saw Mrs Bonnie Moulton of Bridgetown a winner in the Fours, Pairs and Singles Champion.
The strength of women country players has been reflected over the years by the number of country women who have represented at both State and National level. Noelene Abe (Corrigin), Roma Dunn (Dudley Park) and Lee Poletti (Geraldton) all have eight titles each and are amongst a select few players to have won all three events in singles, pairs and fours.
Prior to this official competition there is a record of a group of ladies participating in a country week in 1929. The programme reads something like a morning and afternoon tea fest, with no mention of Bowls but a variety of invitations to Crocquet and Bowling Clubs to join members for refreshments and conversion.