Bowled over by champion skipper

MURRAY HILLS
Last updated 07:17 27/11/2012
harvey stand
ROBERT CHARLES
Grant Harvey had the audience in fits of laughter as his North Taranaki indoor bowls team accepted the prize as the region's top sports team.

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He's larger than life and an entertainer to boot.

When Grant Harvey led his North Taranaki indoor bowls team forward to accept the trophy for the senior sports team of the year at the Taranaki Daily News Sportsperson of the Year awards in New Plymouth on Friday, no- one expected what was to follow.

Harvey high-fived every team member as they stepped up on stage and let everyone know just what the team had achieved.

To say he was ecstatic would be an understatement.

Harvey oozed pride. He grabbed the microphone and extolled the virtues of the team, which won the Welch Trophy interprovincial title - the symbol of supremacy in New Zealand indoor bowls.

And when Sport Taranaki chief executive officer Howie Tamati pointed to his watch, hinting Harvey had gone into overtime, Harvey bowled the crowd away.

"Don't worry about the time Howie, this is our moment."

It certainly was.

The North Taranaki team beat five other teams to win the regional contest, then headed off five teams at the nationals to claim the trophy for the first time in 32 years.

Harvey, 44, said team members couldn't believe they had won the award.

"We were stoked, it was unbelievable," he said. "The guys played brilliant bowls. We cleaned everyone out in the Paterson Trophy . . . blitzed them with a round to spare."

Things were much closer at the Welch Trophy.

"We were one point behind going into the last round and won by two points. It was a great team effort against the best players in New Zealand."

Harvey led from the front, winning 13 of his 15 games and halving another. "Alistair Wilson and John Zittersteijn both won 12 out of 15 and 24-year-old Sean Ridley won 11 out of 15 . . . outstanding."

Harvey is an imposing figure, weighing in at 141kg.

"I don't look it," he joked. "There's plenty of muscles in these arms. I'm big boned. The boys will give me a bit of grief for sure, but I can handle it. Bring it on."

Harvey, who has played indoor bowls for 10 years, said captaining the team was easy.

"As a captain, you need to make them feel comfortable. In our team, there's some real quiet ones . . . seven quiet lambs, in fact. I'm the only loud one," he said. "The key is we all respect each other."

As for public speaking, Harvey said it was something he loved.

"I love talking. I don't worry about notes . . . I just get up there and away I go. I had some good feedback afterwards, everyone saying 'What a great speech'," he said.

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"We even got a sponsor out of the night. Paul Clarke, from Kingsway Menswear, came up and said they would sponsor the team next year, that's a big plus."

Harvey said he should also mention his mum, Gay Harvey.

"She was district governor for Lions last year and did a lot of public speaking, so I suppose I get it from her. That will make her day. It's not from dad [Maurice], he doesn't say boo."

For the record, the North Taranaki team was: Grant Harvey, Grant L'Ami, John Zittersteijn, Paul Midgley, Mark Ridley, Sean Ridley, Alistair Wilson, Lindsay Willis; reserve, Les Coxhead; selector, Peter Terrill; manager, Bryan Whittaker.

- Taranaki Daily News

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