Peterborough civil servant who bowled 'the most famous bowl of all time' wants to make the sport sexy again

Nick Brett wants to make bowls sexy again.

By Tom Harle, Sportsbeat
Sunday, 22nd May 2022, 4:00 pm
Nick Brett.
Nick Brett.

No-one has done more than this 47-year-old civil servant from Peterborough to throw the sport into the mainstream.

Two years on, Brett believes not much has changed in terms of perception of the game he has been hooked on for 36 years.

“People look at other sports and think they’re more sexy, bowls isn’t the sexiest sport,” said Brett, speaking ahead of Bowls’ Big Weekend on May 27-29.

“The perception is that it’s played by the older generation and that it’s not a sport for everybody.

“The older generation do play, but it’s played by all ages. If you asked older people if they wished they’d started younger, 99.9 per cent of them would say yes.

“It’s an addictive game. It’s mind boggling how addictive it is to play.”

Millions were transfixed by watching Brett squeeze the ball through a six-inch gap, a ‘ridiculous’ shot called by partner Greg Harlow, en route to the world pairs title.

“I’ll always be remembered as that guy that played that bowl, I’m sure,” said Brett, “and I’ve not got a problem with that at all.

“It was a good bowl, I’ve seen people play better bowls but coupled with the crowd’s reaction, the commentary, the whole package made it something worthwhile.

“Is it the best bowl ever played? No. Is it the best bowl I’ve ever played? Probably not. But with the whole package, it’s something people can relate to.”

Brett, then ranked No.1 in the world, was denied the chance to defend his title in 2021 when he slipped and injured his wrist while playing golf.

He hit top form again in the 2022 indoor season, winning the British singles and fours title within a few months of each other.

His first World Indoor Championships since 2019 was less successful, however, as he was beaten by Alex Marshall in the second round, his opponent in the ‘wonder bowl’ game.

Bowls has another opportunity to go stratospheric this summer in the shape of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Brett has shown us bowls at its most beautiful but is prepared to win ugly in the quest for a first Games medal.

“A Commonwealth gold medal would be the best feeling,” said Brett. “If we play great bowls along the way, that will add to it.

“But if we play some rubbish ones, that will happen and all that matters is who gets that gold medal at the end of the event.

“You have to find a way to win in all circumstances because it’s not always pretty sometimes.”

Brett would welcome another ‘wonder bowl’ in Birmingham, even if it doesn’t come from his hand.

“People play because of who and what they see on TV,” said Brett.

“If another bowl at the Commonwealth Games is worth that sort of publicity, I don’t mind who plays it because it’s all good for our sport. We need to put ourselves out there.”

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