A new attire rule turned out to be the perfect fit for Koroit Blue lawn bowler Stephen Mitchell.
The Western District Bowls Division one player wears thongs most rounds after Bowls Victoria tweaked its rules two year ago.
“I have been (wearing them) since they were legal,” he said. “I always wear thongs anyway.”
Mitchell, 54, is among a select group making the most of the option.
“(I wear them) unless it’s raining. If it’s raining, they get slippery,” he said.
The former truck driver, who played in Koroit Blue’s 99-96 loss to Warrnambool Gold on Saturday, started playing bowls eight years ago after a truck accident.
“I had a neck injury – I couldn’t play any other sports, so this is it,” the ex-South Warrnambool footballer and Deakin University coach said.
Mitchell’s played with a mechanical arm – to ensure he doesn’t have to bend down – for the past five seasons.
“It got to the stage where I needed it,” he said.
“They are hard to master but I wouldn’t be bowling if I didn’t have it, I just couldn’t bend down. It’s because your arm is so much longer with it, it’s an extra joint.”
Mitchell started at Warrnambool, spending six years at the Timor Street club.
“I started in division four and we won the grand final and I went from there,” he said. “You’ve got to start at the bottom.”
Mitchell then crossed to Koroit with Brian ‘Blackie’ Lenehan, who is his current-day skipper.
The club’s division one side is hoping to end Warrnambool Gold’s stranglehold on the title this season. Warrnambool Gold has won the past six premierships.
“We’re not far away. You’ve got to win to get that experience but we’re close, very close,” Mitchell said.
Koroit Blue went into the round nine match undefeated with Warrnambool Gold sitting second with a 8-1 record.
Mitchell said he enjoyed testing himself against the competition powerhouse.
“It’s a good rivalry. You want to play against the best,” he said.