Another two greats of Bowls North Harbour, Birkenhead’s Ruth Lynch and Helensville’s Pat Robertson, were proclaimed legends of the centre at last month’s annual meeting/awards ceremony at the Takapuna club.
They joined those previously given the centre’s supreme playing accolade: the late Danny O’Connor, the late Barbara Kunicich, Marlene Castle, international umpire Jean Ashby, the late Ivan Kostanich, the late Carole Fredrick and the late Brett Turner.
For Ruth Lynch it was an especially significant and poignant honour for she was placed alongside her great friend and long-term playing partner, Carole Fredrick, at Birkenhead and earlier Sunnybrae and Glenfield.
Together they won many centre titles, with Ruth joining Carole on 25 and a fourth bar to her gold star awarded for five titles just a month after Carole’s passing in early 2020.
The pinnacle of their achievement together came in 2012 when they were skip and three respectively in an all-Birkenhead club four which won the national fours championship.
That was an especially memorable feat for increasingly in the past 20 years it has become virtually impossible for club combinations to win national championships against composite teams formed often by New Zealand players who not only play for different clubs but in many instances in different centres.
There was a reunion, in a spiritual sense at least, too, in Pat Robertson’s elevation to the bowling elite, for many of his greatest playing exploits were in partnership with his Helensville club-mate, the late, great Ivan Kostanich, notably their win in the 1984 national pairs championship in Dunedin.
In his own right Pat Robertson, who passed away in 2009, was a phenomenal player. Like Ivan, who won the national singles titles in 1977 and 1993, he was an accomplished singles player. In 1999 he was runner-up for the national title.
He won 16 centre titles plus another five Auckland championships, before the introduction of North Harbour in 1985, and one in Counties.
Unlike Ivan, he never became a Black Jack, but did represent New Zealand in an over-60s team in 1998 and which also included Ivan.
At the Helensville club in particular he was responsible for launching a notable family dynasty with several of his close relatives, spouse, brother and nephews also high achievers in the sport.
His widow Thelma, with eight centre titles, was also a gold star badge holder, his brother Peter won two centre titles both with Pat, and a nephew, Peter junior, was three times a centre champion.
And another nephew Bart is showing signs of achieving the same legendary status within North Harbour as Pat. He has been one of the centre’s most dominant performers in recent seasons and already has a bar to his own gold star.
Generally, legendary status or being installed in a sport’s hall of fame is reserved for those who have passed on. But Gary Stevens, who heads Harbour’s legends voting panel, points out those still living can be so honoured and that has been the case with Ruth and earlier Marlene Castle and Jean Ashby.
Currently, there are two players still in their prime who have already secured their places among the centre’s greats. Browns Bay’s Colin Rogan and John Walker last month won Harbour’s open two-four-two tournament to add to their phenomenal records and the championship triples won earlier in the year.
Colin Rogan has an extraordinary 36 centre titles, or six bars to his gold star, while JOhn Walker, with whom he has shared so many successes, now has 27.