The Spike: or, Victoria College Review September 1921
To Sydney with the New Zealand University Football Team
To Sydney with the New Zealand University Football Team.
The New Zealand Team was assembled in Wellington on Tuesday, May 18th, and were the guests of the students of Victoria College at the Extravaganza on the same evening. On Wednesday, we were pitted against the Wellington Representatives in the first big match of the year, and contrary to all expectations, we left the-field victorious by six points, the final scores being 12—6. A very enjoyable smoke-concert in the evening proved a fitting farewell to we aspirants of the University Football "ashes."
Accompanied by a kiwi for a mascot, we left Wellington on the s.s. Ulimaroa about midday, and we all thoroughly appreciated the wholehearted farewell and genuine wishes for a bon voyage and successful tour. We were fortunate in striking excellent weather, and consequently the boys suffered little from mal de mer. We practised each day for an hour in a sort of a way. Team practice at sea is a difficult matter. Scrum practice, of course, could be accomplished, but the back division had to be content with running up and down the deck to keep fit. The voyage was very pleasant altogether. Some of the social successes managed to beguil some lady passengers into their affections, but also, when the voyage was over, their lady loves were soon forgotten, and little wonder, too.
We anchored just inside the Sydney Heads, in Waton's Bay, early on the morning of the 23rd. After our ship was cleared, we proceeded up the magnificent harbour. It truly is wonder, and once can only realise how really beautiful and interesting it surely is by seeing it for oneself. With huge liners anchored, with ferryboats darting here, there and everywhere, with the Australian Navy at peace, with the innumerable islets and bays, with the magnificent residences on the edge, set off by their beautifully picturesque gardens, and with heaps of other things, we were all intoxicated with drinking them all in during that hour's steam up the harbour. You see, for most of us il was our first visit to the London of the Southern Hemisphere. I might mention here that during our spare time aboard ship we learnt and practised a Maori haka, with which we greeted Sydney as we pushed alongside the Huddart Parker wharf. There were many old faces there to meet, many of the Sydney team that visited our shores last year; and so we did not feel strangers in a strange place. We were duly sorted out motored off to the college at which we were billeted. Attached to the Sydney University, which covers, I suppose, in the vicinity of 640 aeres, are four denominational college, St. John's, St. Andrew's, Wesley and St. Paul's, and at these fine college institutions we were billeted and looked after in a manner which tended to spoil us somewhat. It is strange how men like people to make a fuss of them. It is nice, isn'tit? A programme of events was mapped out for us, and space will not let me describe all the wonderful things we saw, pleaces we visited and stunts we did. ln fact, were I to make a candid confession, many readers of "The Spike " might even dare to suggest that I am a frivolous individual, and page 12 that would never do. On the night of our arrival, we were entertained to a theatre party at a clever play called "Scandal." Interested readers might ask "Jacko" whether the hero was a fool or not. On Tuesday we were officially received by the University Senate and other "red tabs," after which we were entertained to a luncheon. In the evening a jazz concert claimed us. On Wednesday afternoon we played our first match, against Metropolitan, many of whom have just visited our shores with the highly-successful New South Wales combination. We hadn't quite got used to the very hard grounds, and having only had one practice together since landing, we were at a disadvantage, and. sad to relate, suffered our only defeat of the tour by 34—17. In the evening we were the guests of the residents of Wesley College at their annual dance in the Wentworth Hotel. Their dining-ballroom was built specially for the Prince of Wales' visit, and is very popular with Sydneyites and New Zealanders who sojourn there. One can have afternoon tea there for the sum of 4s 6d, and dance from 3.30 to 5.30. In the evening, for £1, one can dine and dance from 7.30 till midnight. The jazz music is played by six intrumentalists, who truly are most successful in their efforts to rouse one's enthusiasm for jazz. Needless to say, on free afternoons and evenings the Wentworth found many of us there with the elite of Sydney's female population. You've no idea how popular we became with the ladies. Of course we were chosen for our good looks and social activities, rather than our ability to play football. Ask our manager, Georgie—a nice little fellow, but he had too much money to spend. We were all jealous of him. On Saturday, 28th, before 5000 people, at the University Oval, we played the first Test match. We were unfortunate in losing Fea in this match, as he promised to be our most brilliant back. However, after a hard struggle, we drew, 9—9. You see the social life, was telling its tale already. On the Sunday, in a fine large oil-launch, we did the harbour trip One could write for hours about it all, but go there and see it for yourself—you'll appreciate it far better than my attempt to guide your imagination, Incidental to this trip, we visited the wonderful Sydney Zoo. It was well worth seeing, too. On Monday evening, we left Sydney for Duntroon Military College, Leaving Jackson and Fea behind as patients to the most charming nurses at Prince Alfred's Hospital, where the medical student experiment and watch and inwardly digest. I don't think I had better relate the story of roulette on the journey down. The firm might be arrested for gambling on trains. We arrived at Queenbean about 2 o'bung in the morning, and rode miles out to nowhere, close to Canberra, the Federal Capital, where the College was situated in its lonely and dreary position. It can rain very hard down that way, and the weather was not kind to us. We played Duntroon, and decisively beat them, 34—4, We began at last to combine well and play with vim. We left the same night, only too anxious be caught again in the whirlpool of pleasure. Of these few days I'll leave the reader to conjure up all sorts of marvellous things we did. On Sunday, June 5th, we journeyed per motorcar back into the county and miles down to the famous Bulli Pass, returning via the South cosat. It was a most enjoyable trip really, even though I happened to be in a ear which experienced no less than six punctures. The scenery in the country is to my mind not sofascinating as New Zealand country. It becomes monotonous—too much of the sameness, whereas rule New Zealand scenery page 13 is forever changing. Perhaps I am prejudiced. On Monday, we played the second test match, and we won, 19—11, after an exciting struggle. Our next few days were filled up with tea parties, theatres, dances at Rodd Island, at Sargeant's, and. private stunts everywhere. I must mention The Australia, where all the social elite congregate about 4 p.m. to sip tea and talk scandal. Two shillings is well spent in the education of the unfledged. Farmer's in Sydney is what Selfridge's is to London, or, in a ridiculous comparison, what Kirk's or the D.I.C. is to Wellington. One can spend a whole day going up one lift and down another through one department to another. It is a wonderful place and well worth a few hours with one of the charming girl guides, who know every nook and corner of it, too. On Saturday, June 11th, we played the third Test and last game of the tour, and after a most exciting struggle we again were the victors by 19—11, thus winning the ashes. Siddells and Jackson had to leave the field on account of injuries, which, I might state, did not prevent them from enjoying life to any marked degree. Suffice it to say that the last few days had much crowded into them. We played many roles, told many tales, proposed often, and generally made the most of our time. On Tuesday evening St. Andrew's College held their dance in the college, and it was a huge success. I think I am right in saying, overjoyed with our success, that we enjoyed ourselves at this function more than at any other. St. Paul's College dance eventuated on the following night, and though we had very little sleep from the night before, yet we enjoyed ourselves as best we could.
It was with heavy hearts and light pockets that we took our leave of Sydney on Thursday, June 16th, on the s.s. Moeraki. Hundreds came down to farewell us, all of our wives, lovers, pals, etc. Our boat just reminded me of a troopship leaving port, with the innumerable streams joining parting friends. And to me the scene was almost as sad. We made many friends over there in such a short time, and if you could have seen our "down and out" expressions on the boat that afternoon as we watched the coastline of Australia receding fast into the dim distance, you would surely have thought, we were returning from a funeral, rather than from a most enjoyable and wonderful trip. Sydney itself is a magnificent town, well equipped with beautiful parks, an excellent tram and ferry service, in fact it is a veritable little London. One word before I close this hurried account. To the people of Sydney, the friends of their University, I .must tender our sincerest thanks, for all their unlimited kindness to us. They left no stone unturned to make our stay as pleasant and enjoyable as possible, in fact they spoiled us completely. We all have appreciated their over-successful efforts, and all we can say is that we will try to repay the compliment in some measure when their boys come over next year. It was rather striking to find in their University of some thousands of students. What a splendid spirit of comaraderie and esprit de corps existed. All their organisations run very smoothly, and they have no time for idle bickerings amongst students of their strong association, which in Sydney they call a union. Both the men and women students are keen upholders of sport as being an essential part of a University education, and they spare no pains or expense to encourage it. They can teach us many lessons in University life, and I think we can do well by learning from their experiences.page 14
Just a word of praise, too, for George Lusk, our popular manager. We managed him very well. He was very popular with all, and we say "Good old George." Our skipper, George Aitken, whom we must congratulate on his having attained to the loftiest pinnacle in a footballer's career, skipper of the All Blacks, was also a great favourite amongst us, likewise his assistant, Hector Harty, the burly brute from Otago. We were all a happy family, and have returned to New Zealand only eager to visit those fascinating shores again. All private doings of the firm are censored.