Tribute to Brent Turner

  • December 11, 2019

    Bowls North Harbour has lost one of the giants of the sport with the death after a long battle with cancer of Brent Turner.

  A multiple winner of centre titles, a long-time centre representative and a bowler who succeeded at national level, Turner passed away on Tuesday, December 10, aged 69.

 Bowlers from not only North Harbour but from many parts of New Zealand immediately paid tribute to both the man and his achievements.

 At a local tournament, at which many leading players were participating, a minute’s silence was observed, flags were lowered to half-mast and centre Vice President, Elaine McClintock, spoke in his honour.

 Turner finished with a staggering 28 titles, which may have been more had he not taken a five-year break from the game in 2009-13. His tally has been exceeded only by another Harbour bowling titan in Colin Rogan.

 Rogan also joined in the tributes to his long-time rival and occasional team-mate, wryly noting that Brent had often jokingly reminded him that his eventual aim was to overhaul his tally.

 Turner started bowling with the Silverdale club in 1983 and quickly showed his ability and what Rogan described as formidable powers of concentration.

 Besides Silverdale, Turner had lengthy stints at the Browns Bay, Orewa and Helensville clubs, forming at the latter a powerful four with Pat Robertson, David Game and Ron Cowper. This quartet in 1996-97 performed the notable feat of winning both the centre championship and champion of champions title.

 He won the 1993 Masters title and in 1999-2000 the national champion of champion singles and in 2015-16 with Kerry Chapman, Scott Evans and Rory Soden he won the national pathways fours title.

 But his most satisfying success was probably being in the North Harbour representative team which in the 2005-06 season won the national inter-centre title. That side included the likes of Rowan Brassey and Danny O’Connor and, of course, Rogan.

 Turner’s wife, Rona, also became an accomplished bowler and another proud moment for Turner, almost meaning more for him than his own many successes, was when a few seasons ago she won her fifth centre title to gain her gold star.

 And Turner’s return to active bowls after his five-year break was instigated by one of his sons. Doug, taking up the sport.

 Originally, from Taranaki, where his parents ran a store in Stratford, Turner also had a passion for rugby, as the writer discovered when he had the privilege of marking his singles game in a centre event. During the game, besides showing his remarkable playing ability, he unwittingly took the risk of disturbing the marker’s concentration. Between ends he rattled off his boyhood memories of Taranaki’s great Ranfurly Shield eras of the 1950s and 60s displaying an encyclopaedic recall of the exploits of the likes of Ross Brown, Kevin Briscoe and Roger Urbahn.

 As Elaine McClintock observed in her tribute, he will be sorely missed.

Lindsay Knight