Bowling clubs have been the hub of many communities over the years. They have not only been the place to enjoy lawn bowls (and in many cases indoor bowls in winter), but snooker, pool, darts, cards and more. They’ve been a place where people have simply socialised – either casually, or for weddings, birthdays, retirements, wakes, perhaps for worship and much more.
In cities, provincial towns and suburbs throughout New Zealand, the bowling club has survived the last bank branch, the last post office, the last video shop and the last RSA.
There are wonderful stories within ALL these clubs.
Stories that might date back over 100 years. And bowler and author, Barry Bunting, is making it his ‘labour of love’ to capture some of the stories behind every bowling club in New Zealand.
With a working title of ‘Behind the Green Gate, the book aims to capture highlights and ‘lowlights’ from the nearly 500 clubs, up and down the country, as well as humorous anecdotes, quirky insights, and unusual happenings that have defined the character and culture of a bowling club.
“When I was visiting bowling clubs in my early days,” recounts Barry, “I was somewhat intrigued by the variety of gates that had to be mastered to get into each club – the latches and catches, and the weights and pulleys. The logos and coat of arms on the gates were also intriguing to me. You could say I was a gate-spotter! But it made me wonder not only about all the stories behind each gate, but the stories behind each club.”
“And that was the inspiration behind the creation of ‘Behind the Green Gate’”.
Barry has already received contributions from over 100 clubs. “I’m extremely grateful to those contributions,” says Barry, “and I’m looking forward to hearing from the other 400 clubs that have their stories to tell.”
“For example, I found that world class New Zealand left-hand cricket batsman, Bert Sutcliffe, was the piano man for many New Zealand touring cricket teams. But he was also good value on the piano at his bowling club – although he usually needed a bit of persuading to get started.”
It’s stories and anecdotes like this that Barry is looking for. But you need to get ‘cracking’ if your club is to be included in this historical publication about the life and times of bowling clubs,
“I’ll be emailing all clubs again shortly,” says Barry. “I’m hoping there’s someone in each club who enjoys the history, culture, character and anecdotes about their club as much as I do. And as much as I’m sure the bowling public will, when the book is published. I just need my email address to get to the right person in the club!”
“I’m looking for interesting recounts about anything,” adds Barry.
“There will be wonderful highlights in the history of every club, Like the day members of New Plymouth bowling clubs formed themselves into a giant ‘E’ for the Royal visit in 1953/54. Or the Commonwealth Games in 1974 in Christchurch. Or maybe just an old photo of Members topdressing a green 100 years ago. Anything goes really.”
“There’ll also be plenty of lowlights around the country too,” says Barry. “You only need to think about the number of earthquakes there’s been in our country – the 1931 Napier quake, the 1942 Wairarapa quake, the 1968 Inangahua quake, the 1987 Edgecumbe quake and of course the 2011 Christchurch quake. Many clubs have also suffered from flood or fire.”
“And of course, I’m really keen on photos and the origins of each club’s gate!”
Barry will already be familiar with the stories behind the gate of his own bowling club of Burnside. He has served on the Executive (3 terms), as the Bar Manager (4 years) and until June last year as their Business Manager (nearly 4 years).
He’s now semi-retired, helping out with the business of a bowling mate, and is full-steam ahead on the book already.
He can be contacted in all the usual ways –
021 895 063
Post or courier
38b Westgrove Avenue, Avonhead, Christchurch 8042
Get those stories and photos coming in!