Honours Board

Legend of Bowls North Harbour – Marlene Castle

Marlene Castle, one of the undisputed greats of New Zealand women’s bowls, spent only a handful of seasons within the Bowls North Harbour centre, from 1994 to 2000, but in that time she crafted a splendid record.

In those seasons, as a member of the Orewa club, she quickly won six centre titles to collect a gold star, to add to the nine titles she won with Auckland. And while with North Harbour she gained both her national titles. In 1999 at Christchurch she skipped three other outstanding Harbour players, Carole Fredrick, Mary Guldbrandsen and Paulette Mytton, to the New Zealand fours title and in 2001 she partnered Mytton to win the pairs in Wellington.

But it was for her international exploits, many of which were achieved while she was playing in North Harbour, that Castle ensured her enduring place among the game’s legends.

Superbly fit, with the petite build of a top gymnast, she had been only playing the game in the Auckland centre for a few seasons before winning national selection, making her Black Jacks debut in 1989 at the Asia Pacific Games. Barely out of junior ranks, she then led for the Rhonda Ryan-skipped four which won the silver medal at the Auckland 1990 Commonwealth Games losing the final narrowly to Australia at Pakuranga.

That was the first of her many major international honours. She competed in three more Commonwealth Games, in 1994, 1998 and 2002, and collected a couple of bronze medals. She also was at the World championships in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004, winning two silver and two bronze.

Missing a gold at either the Commonwealth Games or World championships, despite being close so many times, was one of the few disappointments in Castle’s career. But some compensation came at the eight Asia Pacific championships in which she participated. In these she won five golds and nine silvers. And she did have one world title, at the world indoor championships in 2000 an event in which she also gained a silver and two bronze medals.

In her early years Marlene was essentially a draw specialist and her accuracy made her an ideal lead. But with experience she developed more shots and more tactical acumen to become equally successful at skip.

In 2000 she was a finalist in the sportswoman’s category of the Halberg Awards along with Olympic greats in Sarah Ulmer and Barbara Kendall and in 2002 she was a senior finalist in the Maori sportwoman’s awards. In 2013 she was an inaugural inductee in Bowls New Zealand’s Hall of Fame.