An application for the incorporation of the Henderson Bowling Club as a men’s bowling club was made on 13th April 1926 by fifteen prominent Henderson identities headed by the Rev. Francis J Usher, who was the first Club President. Previous fundraising by members, assisted by the ladies of the newly formed Henderson Croquet Club had enabled land to be purchased between the banks of the Oratia stream and the Henderson Primary School with an entrance off Great North Road next to the Oratia stream bridge. A joint clubhouse was erected on the land and a bowling green and croquet lawn laid.
At the time of the club’s formation members had the assistance and tuition of four experienced bowlers, Messrs G Y Canton, /W R T Leighton, H A Buscom and D McLeod. This tuition certainly paid off as it was only six years later in 1932 that the club had its first international bowler. In that year member R S Higginbotham represented New Zealand at the Sydney Harbour Bridge tournament in Australia as skip, winning the section with eight wins and one loss. He was also the Auckland Centre Champion of Champions in 1932 and 1933.
It was not until 1997 that the club had its second international player when 40-year-old Kevin Schischka represented New Zealand at the World Indoor Championships at Preston UK.
Kerry Chapman at the age of 28 years was the clubs third international representative when he attended the Scotland millennium bowls event, the World International Open, The World Indoor Championships in the UK. and the Millennium Six Nations in Malaysia. He also represented New Zealand in tests against Scotland and Australia in 2001.
The older members have also performed well headed by foundation member Steve Ozich, fondly known in later years as the grandfather of the Club. He was one of the best-known early players and in 1980 received an Auckland Centre title as lead for the winning Henderson four combination in his 91st year. He passed away in 1992 at the grand old age of 103 and is commemorated in the naming of the present club lounge and in the main annual tournament “The Steve Ozich Memorial Triples”.
Another older member to make his mark on the club scene is Tony Govorko who was a finalist in three championship events in his 91st year. At the age of 94 years he is a force to be reckoned with in club tournaments.
The highlight of the club’s history must be as the only club in New Zealand to act as the headquarters for a world championship event. This happened in 1988 when our pavilion and four greens hosted the Men’s World Championship in February and the Women’s World Championship in November of the same year. This was made possible through the Henderson Borough Council and the bowling fraternity working together to design and build a venue suitable for a world championship on the present site of Cranwell Park in 1983/84. The facilities were funded from the proceeds of the sale of the former men’s bowls and croquet club’s property for commercial use, a contribution from roading funds for the acquisition of the woman’s bowls pavilion and green on Falls Park and a grant from the Lottery Board.
With the amalgamation of the men’s and woman’s bowling clubs in 2003, the newly formed Henderson Bowls Inc. is a much more competitively and financially strong sporting club. This is bourn out by both men and women members featuring prominently as winners of Auckland Centre titles in the past season and the club being voted Club of the Year by Auckland Bowls.
The new club has now been granted the honour of being the headquarters for the 2004/5 national bowling championship which will be a notable highlight in its short history.
(note – written in 2003)