If you were a women’s lawn bowler in the 80s and 90s, you probably came across ‘The Mouse’ making a nuisance of herself on the green.
Nicknamed ‘The Mouse’ by renowned bowls commentator Stu Scott, she was one of ‘the three musketeers’ (along with Marlene Castle and Adrienne Lambert) whose prowess at the game invited women’s bowls to be taken seriously in those pre-amalgamation days.
But Christchurch-born Marie was not always a lawn bowler. “As a youngster, I started off as a swimmer and a surfer at South Brighton,” she says, “before moving on to indoor bowls after I married Ken and had a family.”
Indoor bowls started as just a ‘night out from the kids’, but she quickly got noticed at the Linwood Avenue School indoor bowls club, becoming the first woman to win the Canterbury Singles in 1976. “I found myself playing for Canterbury,” says Marie, “and then for New Zealand.”
Marie represented New Zealand Indoor Bowls playing Australia in the Singles in 1979, and in the Pairs in 1987 with Wynette McLaughlin, winning against Australia. She represented the South Island in the Singles in the North-South Tournament in 1982 and 1984.
“Ken had started playing lawn bowls early in the piece,” she recalls “I used to sit and watch him. In those days’ women weren’t able to play in the weekends. But when the kids were able to look after themselves, I took up the outdoor game as well, and joined the Linwood Bowling Club.”
Like indoor bowls, Marie found herself becoming good at the new game. Very good.
In 1987, she won the Women’s National Pairs title with Denise Page. And in 1995, she teamed up with fellow Linwood bowlers Beverly Morel and Raelene Peters to play in a Denise Page-skipped team to win the Women’s National Fours.
She had already become a go-to selection in the New Zealand Women’s team, taking out a Gold medal in the Women’s Pairs with Judy Howat at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland. Two years later, in 1992, she was in the New Zealand Four that won a Silver medal at the World Outdoor Bowls Championship in Ayr, Scotland. In 1995, she teamed up with Betty Prattley (Skip), Marlene Castle and Millie Khan to win Gold in the Women’s Fours at the Asia Pacific Championships in Dunedin.
Before she and her husband moved to Nelson in 1996, she had accumulated 23 Canterbury Centre titles, and an uncountable number of Linwood Club titles, as well as being…