CITY Memorial Bowls Club is Leo Dunne's home away from home.
The long-time bowler is grateful he can practice, in groups of two, under Victoria's stage three coronavirus restrictions.
Dunne, 80, has played bowls for City Memorial for two decades, vowing "I started here and I will finish here".
The Heatherlie resident said the pandemic protocols had "affected a lot of people" and having a social outlet was paramount for older residents.
"You don't have to be a good bowler to enjoy it," he said.
"Older people look forward to their Tuesdays and Thursdays, somewhere to get out and have a bit of company."
Dunne said the stage three restrictions were better the second time around with certain outdoor activities, including bowls, golf and tennis, allowed in groups of two.
Stage three was re-introduced last week and will be in place for a minimum six weeks after a rise in cases in metropolitan Melbourne which is currently in stage four lockdown.
"The first shutdown we weren't allowed to come near the place, we weren't allowed to practice," he said.
"Now we are allowed to practice and there's always someone up here you can bowl with.
"I come up a couple of times a week, have a practice and order a toasted sandwich."
Dunne, a former dairy farmer, said stage two allowed bowlers to compete in social competitions and night pennant.
Indoor meals were also permitted.
"When we went back to stage two that was quite good," he said.
"You had to stick to the restrictions, which we did. It was divided off after the game in there.
"You were only allowed 20 in spaces."
Dunne took up bowls 20 years ago after football and cricket careers with Grassmere - the latter which lasted until he was 60 - finished.
He hasn't looked back.
"As you get older, most sports you can't play," Dunne said.
"I always said 'I'm not playing bowls, that's for old people' and then all of a sudden I was one.
"Everyone is the same, once they get interested in it and get to know everyone they think 'I should have been playing it years ago'."
The 2019-20 Western District Bowls Division pennant season was the first in two decades he missed.
But he was still a regular at the Cramer Street club.
"When we got this (the new roof) built and it was magnificent, we did attract a lot of new members," Dunne said.
"I thought 'I've been playing for 20 years and I am on the way out, not on the way up'.
"I thought I'd just play social bowls and I then used to come up here every Saturday and watch pennant.
"Me and a mate of mine would get something to eat and sit out at these tables and just watch the bowls."
The pandemic restrictions have cast doubt over the 2020-21 pennant format with the association leaders yet to determine a start date.
The competition usually starts at the end of October and runs until March.
Dunne will consider playing again if a season gets under way but knows he'll have options regardless.
"If it goes ahead good and well but if it doesn't I daresay they'll organise something up here amongst ourselves," he said.
"We are lucky enough to have night pennant and I played in that last year which was good."
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