The Royce Western Districts Shuffleboard Champions!

July 14, 2021

Article Originally Written By Kerrie Davies for Nepean News

When I first heard that we had a team of shuffleboard champions living right here in Penrith, at The Royce, I must admit I first thought it was some kind of dance.

A bit of googling showed me that they were not busting out moves in a dance shuffle but rather playing a sport, and it is the kind of sport anyone can have a crack at regardless of their age, mobility or skill level. Some of the game’s objectives include sliding and ricocheting, hanging off the edge of a gutter and knocking your opponents out. Intrigued? So was I.

To find out more I headed to The Royce and I met with team members Ross Creighton, Dawn O’Keefe, Sandra O’Meara, Muriel and Ivan Halford, Joy and Bob Turner, Helen Price, John Smith and Francie Donney. Ross Creighton is the Captain Coach and the all-round organiser. The idea of getting involved in the sport first came about when Ross was having a chat with Rugby League legend Steve Mortimer at Rosehill Races.

“We started to play the game socially here at The Royce,” Ross said. “Everyone enjoyed it. We’d meet up and play, and what was really great was that it is an all inclusive sport, anyone could join in.”And so they can!

Among the ten team members I spoke to, one was quite challenged mobility-wise and another was legally blind. The game is played on a sanded table, with pucks. The idea is to get the best score without your puck being knocked off. It is a bit of a cross between air hockey and lawn bowls. If you get a chance to play it, I recommend it. Following some guidance from the team, I was encouraged to have a go. After a few attempts I managed to place my puck in a decent position and I was hooked.

Soon after The Royce team began to play weekly, Ross explained that a social day at St Johns Park was organised for three local teams, of which The Royce was one of, to have a match.“How’d you guys go?” I asked. “We came third,” they all said in unison, eyes sparkling.

Next they heard there was an opportunity to play in a wider competition. If you think this fun loving bunch of The Royce residents were going to run the risk of coming in wooden spooners, think again.“Francie stepped up her practicing from two hours a week to 25 hours,” Dawn quipped.“We suddenly all became very competitive!” added Muriel with a laugh.

The Royce Shuffleboard team were on a mission and that was take out their opponents and win! For a team that have only been plying their trade for a couple of months, they blew everyone’s expectations out of the park. The team blitzed through the Western Districts section and into the semi finals. They missed out on winning from there but it took the Grand Champions from Lakemba to take them out.

“The day was such a great success.” said Ross. “The competitive aspect, but also the opportunity for we over 55ers to mingle with others really made it a great day. And to be bringing home the Western Districts champions trophy was so exciting!”

Ivan said the social life at The Royce was terrific and being a member of the shuffleboard team made it even better.“We really had a great time, it was so good to meet all the people in the other teams,” he said.

Francie reflected on the impact that playing the sport has had on not just her life, but others.“It is really rejuvenating. It gives us something fun to focus on. When you’re practicing and trying to improve, any stress you felt beforehand just fades away,” she said.

The general consensus was that Francie and John are the best players, a couple of team members raised their hands when I asked who the worst players are, and there were some giggles when I asked who cheats. The team was lots of fun to have a chat with; they are a very happy, good-hearted and welcoming group. The friendly rivalry and banter between the team members shows how much affection they have for each other and what great friendships have been formed since becoming residents at The Royce.

I’ve been to many retirement villages over the years, but I’ve not seen a social environment quite like The Royce before. It really is a place where people thoroughly love living their life. It is like being in a resort with round-the-clock activities for those who wish to participate. Everywhere you look there are smiles on faces, and why not? They’re living the dream.