Honours Board

Legend of Bowls North Harbour – Danny O’Connor

Danny O’Connor achieved much of his bowling fame with the Auckland centre in the late 70s and 1980s when he and his friend Rowan Brassey were youthful members of some crack Okahu Bay club fours skipped by Nick Unkovich.

Under Unkovich they won several Auckland and New Zealand titles and in 1983 O’Connor won the national singles championship and in 1982 with Brassey the pairs.

Even when Unkovich had departed O’Connor still secured national success, his last two titles being secured while he was playing in the North Harbour centre. In 2005 at Henderson, when he was both a member of Okahu Bay and Takapuna, he was in a winning composite four skipped by Richard Girvan and in 2015, now playing at Birkenhead, he was in a Peter Belliss-skipped composite four which won at Browns Bay.

This latter success, which was widely acclaimed by his many admirers, enabled him to join Unkovich and Gary Lawson as the only players to have won 10 national titles, so earning a bar to the gold star.

For most of the 2000s most of O’Connor’s bowls were played on the North Harbour centre, firstly with Takapuna and then for an equally solid period with Birkenhead. He played in several centre representative sides and the switch from Auckland to Harbour by O’Connor, Brassey and many other accomplished players helped boost the playing standards on the north side of the bridge.

In 2006 he and Brassey helped spearhead North Harbour to a notable national success. With Brassey playing singles and O’Connor skipping the triple of Brent Turner and Colin Rogan, Harbour won the national inter-centre title. Others in that side were the pair of Justin Goodwin and Neven Grgicevich and Birkenhead stalwarts Lionel Drew and Keith Burgess were manager and coach respectively.

O’Connor won three centre titles, the pairs in 2005 with another import to the centre, Richard Collett, and with Collett again in 2007 and in that same season the Dick Bree triples when he and Collett were joined by their then Takapuna clubmate Bob Howitt.

With O’Connor as the mainstay. Takapuna became New Zealand’s champion club when winning the sevens playoffs in 2005 and again in 2007.

Unkovich, a shrewd judge of players, described O’Connor as one of the best players New Zealand has ever had playing as a specialist three in a four. So it was surprising that he played so seldom for the Black Jacks, but in 2002 at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane he was in the four which won silver medal.