Bruce Surprised

Bruce Martin has been intimately involved with Basketball in Canterbury since 1962 (that’s over 56 years, and counting!) and has helped make the CBA community one of the best in the country.

Bruce has been heavily involved with the Bealey’s Alehouse Midweek Leagues, so is extremely well known to all of the teams that play on Wednesday nights – sending out countless emails to help recruit teams and referees for each of the 18 weeks the competition is played each year.

What may not be as well-known publicly, is the amount of behind the scenes work Bruce has done as a volunteer – here are some of the things which have benefitted from his time:

  • Recaps – Bruce used to undertake the mammoth task of writing recaps for every weekend game played (and noting all the scorers, after dissecting every single scoresheet). His health, and the continued growth in team numbers has made this an impossible task to keep up with
  • Competitions Committee – Bruce has been involved in every discussion of the CBA Match Rules, and where changes were needed over the last ten years (and probably a lot longer)
  • Competition Formats – Another area where Bruce’s influence may not be seen by the general public. Every team benefits from his wealth of historic knowledge, and understanding of how numbers of games to play and rounds available, when these are released

When Bruce’s health weakened, CEO Paul Duggan thought a “Bruce Appreciation” night at the Midweek competition, that has become synonymous with his name, would be a great way to show Bruce how loved he was by the community, and also give everyone a chance to express themselves directly to Bruce.

A plan was hatched to invite Bruce along to a “Competitions Committee” meeting, which was a sure-fire way to get his attention. After the 7pm games had finished, find some excuse to get Bruce to Cowles with all the midweek teams there, all the while keeping him in the dark about the true nature of the night! The first organised date had to be cancelled at the last moment, when Bruce was unable to referee the Special Olympics game that night due to his condition, so 13 June was scheduled as the postponement date.


Bruce refereed the CSO game, and then made his way to the CBA office for a discussion on match rules, while the rest of the committee were “on their way”. At 8pm the Celebration Lions and University men’s teams had an issue, with both teams tied on 59-59, meaning we had to quickly leave for Cowles to try and sort. Of course, when we arrived, there was nobody playing on the courts, so we went down to the kitchen to see if we could find out what was happening.


This is when Bruce realised what was organised for him – people shared short memories of what Bruce’s involvement in basketball meant to them, presented Bruce with some mementos (he is now a proud owner of a Halswell Basketball Cap, and blanket with plenty of messages of support) and then had some refreshments.


The night wasn’t quite over for Bruce though, as a newly minted Life Member of the Checkers Club, he had been recruited in to play for them against another Midweek mainstay – the Raiders. After he won the jumpball, the Checkers White team looked exclusively for him as he scored the game’s opening bucket (he later did defect to the Raiders team, and score their final basket of the game too). This opening basket was shared on facebook, and allowed two thousand people to see him score for Checkers, and leave some more messages of support.

Bruce Martin is one of the reasons basketball in Canterbury is so strong, and this night was a fantastic chance for the community to show Bruce the love they have for him – we’re not sure if we can pull off another surprise for him like last night, but are sure he’ll be around for quite a while longer for people to talk to about all things basketball here!

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