I am in a particularly privileged position to write about John Snell. We are both club members at Ivanhoe and I have practised with him; I have played with and against him; and as a sports commentator at the ABC, I have talked about his game during the television series, Jack High and the World Bowls Championships. However, it is not my intention here to talk about his deeds. I want to talk about the man.
John Snell is a great sportsman, who is always willing to help any bowler improve his game. I have had experience with him in many of the bowls clinics conducted by the Royal Victorian Bowls Association, and have seen that he has the happy knack of being able to impart his knowledge to the new bowler.
It is easy to be a great winner, which John has been on many occasions. What impresses me is his sportsmanship in defeat. John is not often beaten, but when he is, he is always ready to acknowledge that he was beaten by a better man on the day. He keeps himself fit, immaculate and enthusiastic about playing. I am sure that he never plays a bowl without purpose.
John belongs to a very closely-knit family, with strong associations with my club. Both his parents have been club champions, his wife Ricky, plays in the number one team, his Uncle Sam is a great bowler, and his son Terry, in his early twenties, is an up and comer who will make the number one side before long.
In my career as a sporting commentator, which dates back to 1951 , I have rubbed shoulders with the greats in golf- such as Palmer, Nicklaus, Player and Peter Thompson- in football, and in many other sports. During that period I have noticed that some – not all- champions let you know how good they are. But not John Snell. To me, he is the best kind of champion- brilliant, a thinker, and yet humble and always willing to learn. He is not one to criticise his team mates, but is always willing to help them.
If there is a fault in his make-up, it is that he drives himself too hard. When he puts down a bad shot – which even champions do sometimes – he worries far too much. But I believe that in the last year he has largely overcome this problem. Snell has put his name in the record book, and will continue to do so for some time.
If I were asked to name the most satisfying aspects of my sporting career- either as an umpire in the VFL, or during my thirty years as a sports commentator on television and radio-I would have no hesitation in including my close association with John Snell.
Next: John Snell’s Record