Deer Park’s heartbreaking elimination from the Bowls Victoria premier division finals has stirred up a variety of emotions.
The Parkers were pipped at the post in the preliminary final for a second year running.
In sporting terms, it does not get much tougher.
Last year, the Parkers went down by a shot at the penultimate stage of the season, this year’s exit was similarly painful in a 77-73 loss to Clayton at the Lalor Bowling Club on Saturday.
Parkers’ president Neil Cromie was shattered with the result, but acknowledged his side’s incredible feat to make it to two consecutive preliminary finals straight after being promoted.
“It is hard to swallow,” Cromie said.
“On the other hand, I’m also extremely proud of them.
“No club in history has ever made two preliminary finals in their first two years of premier league.
“We’ve achieved something that no one has achieved before.”
In a closely fought game, one blowout rink cost Deer Park dearly in the preliminary final.
James Pearce was the Parkers’ best rink on the day, winning 22-15.
Brett Mahoney had a 17-all tie, while Aaron Wood was edged out 20-18.
A see-sawing game eventually fell Clayton’s way after Chris Ball’s rink went down 25-16 to Clayton’s New Zealand international Ali Forsyth.
“We were slightly in front early, halfway mark scores were level and they got in front and we chased all the way,” Cromie said.
“They converted a couple of big heads that made a different in the end.
“No one gave it up and that’s the main thing.”
It was off the greens where Deer Park’s players made Cromie the proudest.
The Parkers players wore black armbands following the tragic events in Christchurch last week.
They stood in solidarity with Forsyth, a kiwi international.
“The players took it upon themselves to wear the black armbands as a sign of respect because those events are bigger than a game of bowls,” Cromie said.
“At the end of the day, win or lose, you shake hands and say ‘well done’.”