Bowling partners not bothered by age gap of almost a century
A mere 96 years separates bowling partners Jim Stapleton and Jacob Brighton. (ABC Goulburn Murray: Will Kendrew)
Almost a century separates Jim Stapleton and Jacob Brighton, but this hasn’t stopped the pair from taking on the competition on a small-town bowling green together.
Echuca’s Jim Stapleton, 105, met bowling partner Jacob Brighton, nine, a few weeks ago, when they were paired together for the City of Echuca’s division five side.
After winning a couple of games together, Mr Stapleton believed they were ready to take on (and win) a final.
“This is a precocious young schoolboy,” Mr Stapleton said.
“At nine years of age he plays bowls better than plenty of the 40-year-olds.
“If he goes on with that he’ll probably make a name for himself in the international, or at least the state stuff.”
Teammates learn from each other
At 105, Mr Stapleton still has a sharp mind and penchant for the harmonica.
He’s lived through both world wars, the Great Depression, helped set up the Rich River Golf Club in the 1950s, and played plenty of football in his day.
“I played in the grand final in the Hume league and it was a bloodbath,” Mr Stapleton said.
“They punched and kicked, kneed us, and I spent four days in hospital. I still suffer from a ruptured kidney I got in that era.
“Football was pretty rough in my younger days, but then again you can stand that, you have to.”
Enthusiastic student Jacob, who has lived in the town for the past three years, is just happy to take on any sport he can, and said he was happy to learn a bit more about bowls, golf and footy from his teammate.
“I’ve been playing sport my whole life; I’m not just into bowls,” Jacob said.
“Normally every sport, I try and get good at it and then I like it.”
While she wouldn’t want to bet on it, club president Pat Schram believed the age gap between the teammates could set a world record in sport.
“It is good for the club, it’s been in the local newspaper, we’ve got comment from Australian bowlers in the Australian team saying how good this is,” Ms Schram said.
“It would have to be nearly a Guinness book of world records type, you know, a 105-year-old and a nine-year-old playing sport together.
“I mean, we do talk about bowls being a sport for all ages, and this is the perfect example of that.”
Ms Schram said players at every club wanted to know the teammates’ story.
“I think they’re in the right spot for each other at this point in time,” she said.
“Jacob won’t be in division five for many years, and Jim needs to be looked after, so at 105 he’s in the right spot too.”
Generational gap addressed
For Jacob and Jim the time spent together was not just about sport, but for closing the generational gap.
“They sit next to each other between ends and just chat away — they are like mates,” Ms Schram said.
“Just before afternoon tea last Saturday Jim said, ‘Will you get me a beer?’ and Jacob said, ‘I’m not allowed to yet’. It’s just delightful.
“It’s a feel-good story and that’s good for the club because we’re very inclusive.”