AT AN impressive 93 years of age, Thomas Grimes is competing with the best in his sport at state level.
Considered "an icon" of the Cudgen Leagues Bowls Club, his bowling has improved to the point that this month, he represented the club at his first state titles in Orange.
The state carnival on August 1-3 saw Thomas's Cudgen team of 12 compete as zone one in the Grade Seven State Pennant Finals where they came away with an impressive third overall.
Fellow bowler and Cudgen club publicist Barry Henderson said Thomas's feats were not only inspiring, but his friend was undoubtedly the "star of the show".
"Our original plan was for Tom to play alternate games because of his age," Barry said.
"We were going to play him in the first and third games but he played that well in the first game, he ended up playing all four.
"He really did bowl bloody well."
Barry said that thanks largely to Thomas, the team was adopted as a crowd favourite right from the first game of the tournament.
"We played Merimbula first and they had all their wives and girlfriends with them and it was like a cheer squad," Barry said.
"After we beat them, they sort of adopted us, particularly Tommy, and for the next three games they were barracking for us."
Thomas, who Barry fondly labels "bit of a show pony", didn't take long to get the crowd onside.
"When we were playing them (Merimbula), every time they (players) turned around, they got a cheer from the girls, so I said 'what about mine?' and they said 'alright, now you!' and I started getting cheers," Thomas said.
He thrived in his new role of being the star attraction and not only entertained the crowds on the green, but also socially, particularly at the nearby Royal Hotel where the teams gathered following a hard day's play.
The state titles' performance was a wonderful achievement for Thomas, who has called Kingscliff home for 40 years after falling in love with the region on trips from Queensland.
After the passing of his wife in 2000, Thomas made his way to Cudgen Leagues where he found solace in the club and the sport.
He says he will continue to spend his time at his "second home".
"I play two days a week and, although I don't drink, I come to the club (to socialise) often," Thomas said.
"The club is a big part of my life."
Thomas has no plans for retirement anytime soon, so the club can rest well knowing that its star attraction will continue to perform for them on and off the green.