Leicestershire’s Steve Wade has had many successful occasions on a bowls green, winning no fewer than six national titles.
But one particular triumph which stands proud on Father’s Day was his success in the inaugural Bowls England National Family Pairs competition with his father, Malcolm, in 2012.
“I’ve been fortunate to enjoy a lot of success on the greens over the years, including winning the national triples and national fours, but I can say that I won the Family Pairs for my Dad,” Steve said.
“We were really looking forward to playing the competition together when it was first introduced and keen to get our entry in right away. He had always wanted to qualify for the National finals with me.
“We fancied our chances of a good run in the competition before it started, but not to necessarily go on to win the whole competition.
“We looked at the entries in our area and felt that we were on a par with most of them and although my Dad wasn’t a Middleton Cup player, he could have quite easily been considered for that level,” Steve added.
Not only does the Family Pairs competition offer parents and children the opportunity to compete on a level playing field, but it also welcomes grandparents with grandchildren, siblings and step-relatives of these partnerships the opportunity to play together and appreciate some key family time.
Steve added: “When you get a family on the green there can often be some sort of ‘argy-bargy’ between the players because the tension is higher especially when deciding on shot selection, but it was a very easy pairing with my Dad.
“He does play back-end a lot and skips regularly, but he was happy for me to skip the Family Pairs. He reads a head very similarly to me, so most of the time it was very easy to agree on the shots to play.
“There is never any animosity between the two of us on a rink together.”
Not long after their triumph in 2012, Malcolm moved to Lincolnshire to live and as a non-driver it became a logistical issue for the pair to still play together.
“That’s one of the great things about the competition – you can really mix up the combinations and when my Dad moved away I actually replaced him with my step-daughter, Isabella, for a couple of years until her exams got in the way.”
It is very much a family affair in the Wade household, with Steve’s wife Claire and youngest daughter Phoebe also enjoying time on the green, but it was very much thanks to Malcolm that Steve took up the sport, rolling his first bowls at the British United Bowls Club in Leicester when he was just four years old.
Steve recalls: “I was often told that I was too young to be there and that I should be out playing on a football pitch, but when my father had finished playing a friendly match on a Saturday afternoon, him and a few of the other members would take me onto the green to give bowls a go and get me into the basics.
“My Dad then moved clubs in the early 1980s when I was about 10 and I started to play in the Saturday matches and in a few competitions with him. We weren’t greatly successful, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.”
Steve and Malcolm’s partnership on the outdoor greens had a break particularly in the 1980s and 1990s as Steve moved clubs to enjoy the sport with bowlers of a similar age whilst competing in under 25 events.
“When I moved Clubs away from my father, we were unable to play much together outdoors, but on the indoor circuit they had the Father and Son Pairs, so we were still able to play that together.
“We reached the semi-final once and the quarter-final twice in that competition, but lost to the eventual winner on all three occasions.
Have you got a family member who doesn’t play bowls? Then why not get them down to your local club and get them started – perhaps you could follow in Malcolm and Steve’s footsteps!
Steve is pictured with father Malcolm, step-daughter Isabella, daughter Phoebe and niece Aoife following the Family Pairs success of 2012.