In Memory of Bill Ryan – by Lindsay Knight
Bill Ryan, one of the Takapuna Bowling Club’s most distinguished members and with the longest period of continuous membership, has lost his brave battle against cancer, passing away today, aged 82.
Bill, after starting bowls with the Kaukapakapa club, joined Takapuna in 1983. Others like Murray Mathieson, Chris Taylor and Nick Barnes have also had a lengthy association with the club, but each of those stalwarts had time away. So Bill’s unbroken membership of nearly 40 years is without parallel among present member.
Bill’s loyalty to the club was all the more admirable, when it is appreciated from his home in the west of Auckland he had to drive many kilometres to the club, which he did regularly either to play or lend his carpentry skills to a club project.
With his Amish-style beard, Bill cut a distinctive figure on the green and enhancing that was his considerable bowling ability and his prowess as a skip.
Bill, Australian-born and raised, arrived in New Zealand in 1966 while in his mid 20s and soon indulged his first sporting love, cricket, with many seasons at a high club level. When he took up bowls he quickly transferred some of cricket’s skills to the bowling green.
In particular, he possessed a thundering drive and in the assessment of club historian Murray Mathieson few then or since have matched the power he could muster.
Bill, like most of his countrymen and women, was always intensely competitive, but with a calm, phlegmatic demeanour he retained a high level of sportsmanship. And as a skip he was invariably positive and tolerant even when his front-end players had lapses.
He quickly became one of Takapuna’s best bowlers and starting in the 1989-90 season he won 12 club championships: four in the fours and pairs, two in triples and two in singles. He was also a regular in the top inter-club teams.
Before the formation of the Harbour centre in the mid-1980s Bill had won a North Shore sub-centre singles title, beating in the final another Takapuna playing legend, Eddie Earwaker.
When Bill joined Takapuna he and Eddie soon became playing partners and close friends, with Eddie’s impeccable draw bowls as lead complementing Bill’s power and shot-making.
All four of Bill’s pairs championships, and some of his fours, were won with Eddie leading and while they never had success together at centre level they came close to winning an unofficial national honour.
In the early 1990s the Milford club staged a national triples competition and with another Takapuna club member, Warwick Wills, Bill and Eddie made the final, only to be beaten narrowly by a Wellington triple skipped by former test cricketer Peter Petherick.
After many near misses Bill finally landed a Harbour centre title, winning a fours championship with Bob Howitt, Norm Scott-Morrison and Trevor Forward, in the 2014-15 season.
Bill made a notable contribution to Takapuna away from the club with his skill as a master builder, a craftsman of the old school. He performed, usually at mate’s or token rates, many carpentry repairs and alterations in the club-house and its surrounds.
Bill preferred to do his bit for the club in this practical, handyman sense. Had he sought executive positions he might well have been a life membership candidate. As it was he was happy when earlier this year the club bestowed on him an honorary membership.