A life dedicated to sport and administration

Last updated 14:55 17/07/2012
Lindsay Bell
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

IN THE BLOOD: Legend of Sport Lindsay Bell with a photo of his father Joseph "Wampy" Bell who was vice-captain of the 1926-27 New Zealand Maori All Blacks.

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The Star Rugby Club would not be the same without the hard work of Lindsay Bell. However, as sports writer Don Wright explains, it isn't just rugby into which he has poured in many volunteer hours as we introduce to you our latest Legend of Sport.

Life without helping softball, rugby and bowls participants would be unbearable for Lindsay Bell, nor would it be any worse if he was unable to play the popular sports himself over a lifetime.

His contribution to those recreational pursuits identifies him in the eyes of many Southlanders as a true blue sporting legend in every sense of the word.

In recognition of his contribution to the Star rugby club, two of its respected stalwarts Alan Blackler and Bob Donnelly spent many hours compiling a "This Is Your Life" presentation of the son of 1923 All Black, Maori All Black and 1929 Southland Ranfurly Shield winning captain J R "Wampy" Bell.

To this day, Lindsay Bell knew nothing of all the work done behind the scenes for the programme until it was about to start.

He played senior rugby until he was 42 and ran the Star club's Monday night Housie fundraisers for 33 years until calling it quits 11 years ago. The Housie nights are now staged on Mondays and Thursdays and have since been organised by Pauline Flynn, club president Myra Boyle and Blackler.

Blackler was moved to say: "All sporting clubs need a Lindsay Bell within their club to run efficiently and for survival.

"He was a self-appointed manager of the club for several years and, while I was president for six of those years, Lindsay would ring me nearly every day to inform me of activities within the club."

Blackler and Bell's wife Olive (Olie) did a lot of the homework behind the scenes while Lindsay was away swimming.

Rugby identity and fellow Southland Times Legend of Sport member Bill Anderson said Bell was the Star club in its heyday, the face all identified with the club. Now retired after 36 years on the permanent staff of the Ocean Beach Freezing Works, Bell still swims five times a week and enjoys bowls with his wife at the Waihopai club.

Olive is now a prominent administrator of the sport, being a board member of Bowls Southland, past president of the women's executive, the present vice-president of the Waihopai club and secretary-treasurer of the Southland Umpires Association.

"Bowls was once the domain of the elderly but is now played more commonly by the younger brigade, " he said.

Bell was a former Southland representative and Waihopai green cutter for nine years and bar manager for the same period, as well as selector for 10 years, club captain, tournament secretary and a committee man for 11 years.

"Sport has been my life. I wouldn't have it any other way if I had my time over again and I owe so much to the support and tolerance of my wife Olive."

Bell's involvement with the Star Rugby Football Club has spanned 64 years (1948-2012).

He played one game as a Southland senior three-quarter before suffering a serious knee injury that required surgery.

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He represented the province as a colt, also at third grade and second grade, often as captain and first represented Town Seniors when 21.

He was a Star senior for 20 years and represented Southland Maori for 16 years. The year 1952 was special when he and his Star mates won the Middlesex Sevens competition for New Zealand clubs.

Star retained the trophy in Timaru the following year.

Another feature of his playing career was being a member of four Star Galbraith Shield winning teams.

Bell is honoured to have been a Star club committeeman for 42 years, including President in 1970-74, also secretary, treasurer (14 years) and bar manager for 25 years.

He designed the club's monogram for a 1969 Fijian visit and was heavily involved in coaching Star and representative colts teams.

The chairman of the club's 1986 centennial committee, he has been historian and author of the centennial book for the last 10 years and was made a life member as far back as 1976.

Among countless other distinctions and recognitions, he is to this day patron and was joint organiser of the club's touch tournament for many years, not to overlook being the overseer of building the new clubrooms project in 1994, opening the facility with the city mayor.

Bell represented Southland Seniors in softball for seven years, mainly as short stop, and was a South Island triallist, coached Southland women for two years and was secretary-treasurer for several years.

Bell is one of several distinguished family members.

Older brother Trevor was a South Island and Southland Softball outfielder and Manawatu representative.

Younger brother Athol was a New Zealand, South Island and Southland representative Pitcher.

Lindsay and brother Athol's summer Saturdays were fully absorbed with swimming (7.30-10am), then softball, followed by cricket at 1pm, before finishing up with roller skating and attending the St Mary's dance.

Winter was all about rugby.

He often enjoyed helping Bert McKechnie with Wednesday summer cricket.

The social cricketers were a "different breed" who prolonged activities at the bar and were often late home, "myself included", he said.

Believe it or not, he still found time to play summer hockey, representing Southland against North Otago in 1956.

- The Southland Times

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