Drawing: David Bryant

David Bryant

Whilst watching the Glasgow Commonwealth Games yesterday, I was reminded of some of its legends, as the BBC punctuated its coverage with mini profiles of its famous past participants. Among them was Englishman David Bryant, the bowls icon.

Lawn bowls as opposed to opposed to bowling of the ten pin variety in an ‘alley’. It involves rolling biased balls towards a smaller ball called a ‘jack’ or ‘kitty’. Distinctively British, dating back to the 13th Century. In fact, the game was banned by King and Parliament, fearing it would jeopardise the practice of archery which was important in battle. Given their resemblance to cannon balls, they may have been better to use them in battle instead of arrow… maybe they did. Regardless, in 1541, Henry VIII ordered that artificers, labourers, apprentices, servants and the like were forbidden to play bowls at anytime except Christmas, and then only in their master’s home and presence. A penalty of 6 shillings and 8 pence was the fine.

Anyway, enough of that and back to more recent history. David was perfect for a caricature, wearing his white cap, pipe-smoking and with his distinctive delivery style with his raised leg. The English teacher was the master of the rink. Some would say god.

Definitely one of the greatest, if not the greatest, exponents of the sport, along with Bowls Englands’s current CEO Tony Allcock. Together they won six world indoor pairs titles and individually too many to mention. David collected five Commonwealth Golds dating back to Perth in 1962. I haven’t checked if the King’s edict’s been revoked. If not, not a bad haul for an illegal activity.

At the World Championships in Auckland in 1988 (where David won the singles title and was runnerup in the pairs) he found time in between games to sign my caricature.