Geoff Simons : Shunning popularity contests

July 4, 2022

Geoff Simons, President of the Roslyn Bowling Club in Dunedin, has ruffled a few feathers in his time.

But then you don’t ruffle feathers unless you’re trying to make things happen … those who don’t do anything, don’t ruffle feathers. Geoff has always been a man on the go. He’s the man some sage was describing when they said ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person’.

At the age of 66 going on 67, Geoff is still a man on the go … and still working fulltime, but that will end this year.

“As a youngster, I went to Otago University and got a BSc in Maths,” says Geoff. “I did a bit of training, and became a teacher at the then new Logan Park High School here in Dunedin. I taught for quite a while, then took a break and sold insurance for AMP.”

“Then my dream job came up … Regional Sports Director for the Otago Secondary Schools Association. I would be working fulltime in sport ... and getting paid for it!”

That lead to his current job in sport as a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Sports, Exercise & Health at the Otago Polytechnic. He’s been Sport Liaison Officer for the last nine New Zealand Masters Games in Dunedin.

He was also a volunteer for the World Masters Games in Sydney in 2009.

“I’ve always loved sport, and always been involved in sport. I played rugby from when I was10, right up to the age of 40, but was never overly talented at the game. I just loved rugby. But I took up refereeing in 1991, and I’m still refereeing the lower grades of rugby today. Sure … I’m a bit slower around the field now!”

That has lead to him having a life-long involvement with the Alhambra Union Rugby Club, the spectacular sportsground wedged between Great King and Cumberland Streets in central Dunedin.

“When I was doing my OE with my now wife in 1978, we followed the All Blacks on the Grand Slam Tour of Britain. It was fabulous, including getting flooded out of the campground in Munich during the after-tour trip of Europe. These days, tours a bit more sedate ... but I’ll be in Auckland later this year for the Women’s Rugby World Cup, and the Men’s World Cup in France next year.”

But a love of bowls is now competing in popularity with his love of rugby.

“I got a flyer through the mailbox from the Roslyn Bowling Club back in 2006 … it sounded like they were desperate for members, so I popped down for a roll-up, even though I was running marathons at the time.”

“I ended up joining, and taking up the game. I became club delegate to the Centre, and suddenly found myself chairing the Dunedin Centre. I hadn’t been in bowls long and had never really had any administrative role with the club. But I must’ve been full of passion. And must’ve had a big mouth!”

“I was pretty keen to make some changes. I think I really got the ‘don’t come back Monday’ when I tried to get rid of printed handbooks. The expense of printing them was crazy ... I even photocopied ‘handbooks’ for free at work. But the real issue was that they also contained the season’s draws … it gave us no flexibility whatsoever to alter things during the season.”

“Unfortunately, there was a section of people who weren’t happy with changing the status quo, so I shrunk back to my cave at the Roslyn Bowling Club.”

All the kerfuffle didn’t stop Roslyn from capitalising on Geoff’s energy and enthusiasm. For the last two years he has been President of the club, Club Captain, and what he describes as an “Availabilitier’. “I check out who’s available for inter-club. I’m not a selector though!”.

Putting Geoff’s passion to work has paid dividends for Roslyn. From a club that was struggling on the brink of closure, it has gone to a full-playing membership of over 30. And rising.

Geoff is perpetually bringing new ideas to the table : whether it be a full selection of craft beers in the fridge of the club bar … zany shirts and jackets sporting the club colours … encouraging the tending of a community vege garden out the back … or promoting a brewing club within the club. He’s continually working (and talking) to make the club bigger ... and better.

But there’s also the usual not-so-flashy ‘to do’ list at the club. There’s only one women’s toilet … another is needed. The club flagpole’s sinking … it needs a new foundation. Two lamp posts on the site are threatening to fall over. There’s maintenance that always needs doing, or funding.

Geoff’s an unabashed cheerleader for the club. He’s someone who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. He’s one of those blokes that every bowling club wishes they had. Even the Centre finds his degree in maths extremely useful for managing the Centre draws.

“Sport has to be fun,” he says “Or why play it? Enjoying the company of others in the club is great.”

Thanks for everything Geoff. Keep up the good work!