Ian Crawford has a habit of being pulled into sporting teams when just having fun.
The former Shepparton resident, now living in Melbourne, was coaxed into playing bowls during a work Christmas party at the Rosanna Bowls Club.
‘‘Apparently I’m the first bowler ever to come straight out of barefoot bowls into the first (pennant) team,’’ he said.
‘‘I was at a work Christmas party and club members said ‘have you ever played before?’ and then they said ‘sign here’.
‘‘I never even knew where the Rosanna Bowls Club was until that night.’’
Returning to Shepparton to play in the Victorian Open, Crawford was searching for a pairs partner when Bowls Victoria president Barb Gilbert matched him with Shepparton Park’s Peter Matthews.
Matthews skips in the Parkers’ division two pennant side and together the pair worked itself into the third knockout round.
But there it met reigning champions Lee Schraner and Bradley Marron, who exerted their authority to win by 11 shots.
Having lived in Shepparton for the first 18 years of his life, Crawford received a golden opportunity to move up to the Gold Coast for a year.
He said 16 players from the Goulburn Valley League were asked to head up north and nearly formed a full side to play AFL for Burleigh Heads.
‘‘A coach rang us and he said ‘would you like to come up?’ and at 18 we thought ‘God yeah, why wouldn’t you?’ so there were four local blokes they flew in to make up the 20,’’ Crawford said.
The GVL group went far, reaching the elimination final only to go down by four points.
Following that year which was responsible for bringing Crawford a circle of lifelong friends, the immediate move was to go further north.
He joined his parents in Bundaberg after they had relocated from Shepparton and again Crawford joined the local sporting team while doing something social.
‘‘I was just having a kick of the footy with my mate on the beach and then the coach of the club (Bundaberg) just happened to be there and he said ‘you blokes are from Melbourne aren’t you? Can you come and play for us?’,’’ he said.
The sporting passion has since transferred into more than 500 games of cricket before continuing on the bowling green.