Bowled over by Playboy bid

INDECENT PROPOSAL: Julie Dalgarno reflects on her younger days.
INDECENT PROPOSAL: Julie Dalgarno reflects on her younger days. Rob Williams

JULIE Dalgarno was almost a centrefold in Playboy magazine.

The former world champion ten pin bowler was 16 years old when a man approached her at the bowling centre saying he wanted to do a magazine article and photo spread with her.

In those days bowling skirts were short and good girls like Julie weren't familiar with men's magazines like Playboy.

She took the man's business card and told him she would have to ask her father's permission first.

"I was very naive then," Julie said.

"I told my dad when I got home, he asked me what magazine the man was from.

"Playboy, I told him, he said they wanted to do a centrefold. My dad took the business card, called the man and I never heard from him again."

Julie, the middle child in a family of three girls, grew up in Sydney near Chatswood and started bowling when she was nine years old.

She won the Australian titles, the state titles, took home a silver and a bronze medal, and was once ranked 25th in the world.

In the 1970s Julie and her mother took the media by storm when they became the first ever mother and daughter duo to be picked for the state, and later national, teams.

Throughout her childhood and young adult years bowling was at the centre of her life - her mother and father both worked at the bowling centre and that's where she met her husband Brian.

Technically, the two were already acquainted - they went to primary school together but there was no love lost between good girl Julie and the bad boy Brian.

"I didn't like him," Julie said.

"He was naughty and I was a prefect who used to bring the teachers their morning tea."

Julie and Brian went to different high schools and didn't see each other for a few years until being reunited at the bowling centre where Julie was working part-time.

One day, Brian, who once parked a teacher's car in the school auditorium, asked Julie if he could walk her home after work, but she wasn't interested and turned down his offer.

The next week he asked again, and again she said no.

"The third time he asked I thought OK because I only lived about ten minutes down the road," she said.

"On the way we stopped at the park and sat talking for hours - I didn't get home until 3am."

The pair started dating and Julie clearly remembers the night she brought Brian home to meet her parents for the first time, over family dinner.

The Wimbledon tennis tournament was on television and Julie's father, who she describes as racist, started a "rant about one of the darker" players.

That didn't go down well with 16-year-old Brian, who had lived in Burma for seven years.

"'Well you're a racist so and so aren't you?', Brian said to my father.

"And I thought - oh well this is a good first meeting.

"Dad had a shot at him, Brian had another shot back and I thought 'well I won't be seeing you again Brian, see you later'."

After Brian had left, Julie was in the kitchen making tea for her mum and nana when her father came in and told her, much to her surprise, how much he liked Brian.

"He stands up for what he believes and I like that," her dad said.

After that the two men "got a long like a house on fire".

When Brian's father died, he came to Julie's house for comfort, sitting with her father all night crying.

"They started going to the club together after that and I remember one day Brian had thought he would be able to outdrink my father," Julie said.

"Now my father was a big drinker. I remember they went up to the club at 9am and by lunch time my father was carrying him home."

It seems Brian had actually decided to leave the club sometime before that but only made it as far as a nearby garden, which is where Julie's father found him before dragging him home to sober up.

When Julie and Brian became engaged, the bowling fraternity was sceptical, saying they'd be lucky to last six months together.

Next month they will celebrate their 43rd wedding anniversary.

Throughout her bowling career there were two standout moments for Julie - when she was picked to play at the world cup team and when she bowled a near perfect game.

"It was at Leichhardt Bowling, Sydney about 1986," Julie said.

"There were two floors with 16 lanes on each and I remember the centre was packed.

"It was very traumatic because everyone stopped in the whole place and stared at me. All you could hear was the clunk of the balls, other than that it was dead silent."

Julie had already bowled perfect scores and said she cracked a little under the pressure, bowling slightly off and landing a 297, instead of 300 - the highest score for a game of ten pin bowling.

It was still a major achievement and a plaque was erected above the lanes to mark the moment she almost achieved a perfect score in a professional women's competition.

Bowling took Julie all over the world. She competed in Singapore, Bangkok, Paris, Belgium, England, Holland and Germany.

Julie is 64 and only gave up playing in 2003 after knocking the pins down finally lost its appeal for her, taking up a job at Red Cross instead.

Now all she wants to do is live out her days with bad boy Brian at Tivoli Gardens and, if she had enough money, help her children buy a house for their own families.

"I've always wanted to help people," Julie said.

Topics:  general-seniors-news magazine playboy

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