The name ‘Frank Lockey’ is very well-known on the Shore.
It’s not because this Browns Bay Bowling Club bowler is the ‘Richie McCaw’ of the game, although he has combined with Brian Langridge and Glen Pepper to win the Club Triples in 2004/2005 and 2005/2006 – as well as the Champ of Champs North Harbour Centre Triples the same year.
It’s not because he once played rugby league for the mighty Glen Afton Seniors (near his home town of Pukemiro) – the Huntly area was a league hotspot at the time.
It’s not because he was a keen golfer playing out of Pupuke on a 10+ handicap, although he did win the BMW International at Whitford Park in the 80s, and scored a trip to the Canary Islands to represent New Zealand.
In fact, it’s not because of any sporting prowess at all.
Instead, the name ‘Frank Lockey’ became synonymous with one of the most famed invitational tournaments in New Zealand – the Browns Bay Bowling Club Seafood Tournament that ran from 2000 to 2010. And it was Frank that was the driving force behind that tournament.
We’re not talking here about a tournament where someone regifts some unwanted fishing tackle for prizes and puts on fish paste sannies for morning tea. Frank’s long career in the seafood industry meant that he could twist the arms of his numerous contacts to drown the day in seafood – to the extent the bowls almost became secondary.
“We used to play corner-to-corner at the end of the tournament,” recalls Frank, “We put a crayfish in the middle and charged people $5 for a go. One member who will remain nameless, had repeated go’s, He reckoned it was the cheapest way he could go home with a $150 crayfish.”
Frank immersed the day in seafood: crayfish, scallops, prawns, clams, mussels, salmon, cod and more. There was seafood for the tournament winners, seafood for morning tea, seafood for lunch, seafood for snacks, seafood for raffle prizes and random seafood giveaways. “We used to have to close off the tournament with 48 Fours teams playing on 3 greens. It’s hard to know whether they came for the bowls or the seafood!”
The tournament epitomised the saying ‘If you want to catch more fish, use more hooks.’
When Frank could no longer stretch the favours with his seafood suppliers, he took to organising annual hams tournaments – schmoozing his longstanding contacts in the food industry who came up with hams of unrivalled quality. He also press-ganged Phil Spathis, the Chef at Harbourside Restaurant, to provide slap-up luncheons on the day.
Long-time friend, John Street from the local New World, became involved this year, and will be again when the tournament is held on 3rd December later this year. “I’ve already had confirmations from a lot of teams saying they’ll be there again,” says Frank, “Characteristically, we get a lot of out of towners: the Far North, Whangarei, Morrinsville, Tauranga, New Plymouth … they come from everywhere!”
The Seafood and Hams Tournaments typify the way Frank operates. He doesn’t leave participation in the tournaments to happenstance – he ensures that all attendees will have a fabulous time on the day. “The only thing I cant do to make the tournament more enjoyable for them is to ensure they win the bowls on the day,” he laughs.
That thinking comes from his decades being in sales in the food industry.
Frank worked for General Foods when they ruled in New Zealand. “They were buying up all the old ice cream brands that we knew as kids,” recalls Frank. “Like Perfection in Christchurch, Supreme in Timaru, Crystal in Dunedin and Southland in Invercargill. I started with the company in Auckland, went to Christchurch, and then Dunedin. It was there I met Cliff Skeggs and got into the seafood business.”
They were days when reps roamed the country in their Mark 3 Cortinas, complete with push-button radios if you had the seniority, endearing themselves to retailers everywhere. Frank was brought up on networking, and how to keep the customer happy.
It’s the same philosophy that’s driven his contribution at the Browns Bay Bowling Club.
“I was President when we held the Nationals in 2015,” says Frank. “And with Tim Preston and the team, we were determined to make them the best ever. The weather did its part for 13 days. The greens were in fabulous condition – and I still think they’re the best on the Shore. Helen Stallard was a great Tournament Director. And we were able to muster 65 volunteers from the Club to help with the tournament. They were even all uniformed out by the Heartland Bank.”
It’s that determination to do the best which has been the signature of Frank’s work for bowls.
“When you’re a salesman,” he concludes, “You can’t assume people will just buy. It’s up to you to get them to buy. It’s the same with bowls. We can’t expect people just to show up for tournaments. We need to do our darndest to make the tournament as attractive as possible.”
Great thinking, Frank.