Boot on other foot as Keith prepares to take office

“Give ‘em a badge and they think they are God.”

Those were the words of Keith Hatzer, aimed at a referee, which came booming across the green at Hill Crest Bowling Club in Sowerby Bridge a good few years ago.

But the target for his abuse, Dougie Mellor, was only too pleased on Saturday to propose that the Halifax official became president of the Yorkshire Crown Green Bowling Association in 2013.

Mellor reminded Hatzer of his words at the county annual meeting Mirfield Old Bank BC, when it was confirmed that the colourful 52-year-old Calderdale Healthcare worker will succeed Huddersfield’s Joan Wrigley in the top post in 12 months’ time.

Hatzer has a reputation for being outspoken as well as being thoroughly passionate and hard working when it comes to the sport he loves. He will not be your archetypal figurehead, but Mellor urged him to “be himself” when he takes the badge of office and Hatzer has promised to be just that.

“It is a massive honour,” said Hatzer, who has turned down the chance to be Halifax president in the past because he said he had “never been in it for the glory”.

The Siddal Park member admits he is an “unusual” choice as county president and said he had discussed with his supportive wife Donna whether he should accept the post.

“She said I would make a good president but that it was up to me,” said Hatzer, who typically has no plans to give up any of his many roles during his year in office.

He will be following in the footsteps of the likes of Frank Roberts, Peter Shaw and Sheila Whiteley, who are other former presidents from Calderdale.

“I’ve got to keep the bar up because they have set a very high standard,” said Hatzer.

Hatzer took up bowls as a teenager, going to the Siddal club with his mates, and he says he was soon bitten by the bug. He has also been part of the all-conquering Akroyd Park set-up and played at Sowerby Tennis and Bowling Club, where he helped introduce a couple of big tournaments, before returning to Siddal.

When he realised he couldn’t match the best players, Hatzer decided the next best thing was to get involved in team management and he has been boss of either the Yorkshire home or away team for the last decade.

There was a bid to oust him as home boss last winter, as Yorkshire’s barren spell continued, but Hatzer and the players answered the critics last summer with a first Crossfield Cup success for 13 years.

Behind the scenes, Hatzer has served on the Halifax ABA and Yorkshire management committee for more than 20 years and the British CGBA management committee for six years.

He has been working with Wrigley on the Yorkshire Bowls Partnership for the last two and a half years, visiting agricultural shows and hiring a stand to promote the merits of the sport.

Hatzer sees his presidency as another opportunity to bang the drum for bowls.

“It is still seen as an old man’s game but it is certainly not,” he said. “It is a very skilful game, you are out in the fresh air and there is a great social side.

“We could do with a lot more middle aged players and there are not many young players in the Halifax area,” he added.

ALL clubs are being urged to send two representatives to a club night at Elland CA & BC on Thursday (7.30).

It is being organised by the Yorkshire Bowls Partnership, supported by the Bowls Development Alliance [BDA], and is free of charge and includes supper.

A recruitment drive is under way in the county and the purpose of the event is to inform clubs of the work of the Yorkshire Bowls Partnership and explain the ways the group can offer support to local clubs.

There will be presentations by the Bowls Development Alliance, West Yorkshire Sport and the Yorkshire Bowls Partnership plus a question and answer session.