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The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1934

Rugby at Victoria

page 68

Rugby at Victoria

Out in the fields the forwards are a-lining;
The backs are crouched already in their place.
Cold and grey, with a wink of sun a-shining—
It's just the day for scrum, and rush, and pace.
Hard the luck that I must sit here whining,
And watch another fill the vacant space:
While for the fresh old fight my heart is pining,
And for the times when I was in the race.

—"Superannuated," by S.S.M., in "Spike," 1906, "The Old Clay Patch," 1920.

Ntineteen hundred and three was the year of the formation of the Victoria University College Football Club. True, the first College team lined out on Athletic Park on the Prince of Wales' Birthday, 1902, but this was an isolated effort. However, the win against the Old Boys' team on that occasion, by 19 to 12, gave the Rugby enthusiasts their last and conclusive argument. In 1902 Sydney University began negotiations which ended in the exchange of visits with the New Zealand University teams, and the Students' Association appointed a committee to go into the question of football generally. The direct outcome of the work of this committee was the foundation of the Football Club. The inaugural meeting was held at the Girls' High School and H. H. Ostler moved "That in the opinion of this meeting the time has arrived when a football club be formed." This was carried and a subsequent motion, "That a Victoria College Football Club be formed," was carried by 11 votes to 4, despite the efforts of the chairman.

A committee was elected, consisting of G. V. Bogle, W. Gillanders, A. H. Johnstone, F. A. de la Mare, R. Mitchell, H. H. Ostler, A. G. Quartley, R. G. M. Park and A. Tudhope. The first annual general meeting was held on the 2nd April with sixteen members present. "Some were cripples," says the report, "but all were enthusiasts." Professor G. W. von Zedlitz, the first president, occupied the chair. It was decided to enter two teams, a junior and third-class.

In 1903 there were in all 191 students attending lectures. The first fifteen lost all its nine matches. The second fifteen secured the honour late in the season of winning the first two matches won by the Club, by defeating Poneke III. by 8 to 3, and Melrose III. by 15 to 8. The season of 1904 was an important one. Thomas A. Hunter, a newly appointed lecturer in Mental Science and Economics, joined the rearguard, and it was this recruit who moved that "Next season we enter a senior team." This motion was carried despite many misgivings. The second team in 1904 scored 3 points against 200 and won one game—it beat Melrose by default.

In 1905, with 254 students attending lectures, two teams were entered, a senior and a third-class. Professor Hunter was the first captain of the senior team. It is noteworthy that during this season the old Maroon and Blue Colours were discarded and the Green and Gold substituted. Two games were won, the first versus Poneke, and the second against Wellington. The season was also memorable because it marked the beginning of a series of matches with other Colleges. We defeated Canterbury College in the inaugural game by 8 to 6, but were beaten by Otago by 13 to nil. Hunter and de la Mare were picked for the Wellington representatives, but were unable to play owing to the match with Otago University.

In 1906 the membership of the Club doubled, and four teams were entered. G. V. Bogle, a fine defensive back, won his Wellington representative cap. In 1911-12 this player was a Scottish Trial International. V.U.C. played its first match against a touring Sydney University team and were beaten 31 to 3. A. H. Johnstone, W. Gillanders, F. A. de la Mare and T. A. Hunter gained the honour, which they very highly value, page 69 of life-membership of the Club. A. McCarthy, who left for Wanganui half-way through the season, represented Wanganui on playing there.

In 1908 the first visit by a New Zealand University Team to Sydney took place. V.U.C. was represented by J. D. Brosnan, F. W. B. Goodbehere, A. D. Lynch, F. A. de la Mare and H. F. O'Leary. L. Hitchings, F. A. de la Marc and J. Prendeville were picked for Provincial games.

Sydney University visited us in 1909 and our representatives in the New Zealand University team were A. T. Duncan, C. E. Phillips, H. F. O'Leary, J. D. Brosnan, A. Curtayne, F. A. de la Mare, Tennant and W. J. Robertson. A. T. Duncan played for the Wellington representatives. One of the great events of the season was the opening of the Gymnasium on the 24th July, due mainly to the efforts of the Football Club with whom Professor Hunter was closely associated.

In 1910, V.U.C. had even more teams in the field, and P. J. Ryan and A. Curtayne represented the Province, whilst in the next season Ryan maintained his place in the representative team and for some years no Wellington team was complete without him. A. Curtayne, J. D. Brosnan, A. S. Faire, R. H. Quilliam, P. J. Ryan and W. J. Robertson went with the New Zealand University team to Sydney. A New Zealand University team went to Sydney again in 1913 in which R. H. Quilliam, A. Sandel, A. S. Faire, L. J. Shaw, T. Fawcett and P. J. Ryan were included. A. S. Faire, T. Beard and P. J. Ryan represented Wellington. In 1914 Ryan, Faire, T. Beard and W. J. Sim played for Wellington. During this season the College team added to its laurels by defeating the champion team, Athletic, by 10 to 3.

Then the Great War intervened. 113 members and ex-members of the Club joined the colours, and not less than 38 members or ex-members were killed. The Club's playing strength fell off greatly, but in 1917 the Club again gained men in the representative team, G. G. Aitken, E. R. Black, W. E. Caddick, A. Jackson, F. A. Morton and D. Scott all gaining a place. In 1918, A. Jackson, G. G. Aitken and R. R. Scott were in rhe representative side whilst in 1919 with the men returning from the front, the Club was greatly strengthened. Four teams were entered and the senior team was runner-up for the championship. N. A. J. Barker, R. R. Scott, T. Beard, E. Chrisp, A. Jackson, G. G. Aitken, J. D. Brosnan and P. Martin-Smith all represented Wellington.

In the next season, 1920, football was booming in Wellington, and 'Varsity football, too, received the impetus that so many good players in one city must give. G. G. Aitken, N. A. J. Barker, J. D. Hutchison, P. Martin-Smith, R. R. Scott, S. K. Siddells, Max Smith and C. B. Thomas were all in the Wellington representatives, and G. G. Aitken, J. D. Hutchison, F. M. H. Hanson, a New Zealand Army representative, D. H. Scott, R. R. Scott and S. K. Siddells were in the New Zealand University team. Barker also represented the North Island. In the second match ever played against Sydney University, V.U.C. lost, 18-20.

Next year, 1921, G. G. Aitken captained and S. K. Siddells represented New Zealand against South Africa, the first time in the history of the Club for anyone to gain All Black honours. These two with A. Jackson, G. G. Mackay, D. H. Scott, C. B. Thomas, F. C. Hutchison (captain) and F. M. H. Hanson repped. for Wellington. In the New Zealand University team which visited Sydney, H. N. Burns, F. M. H. Hanson, G. G. Aitken, A. Jackson, D. H. Scott and S. K. Siddells gained a place.

Again in 1922 the Football Club had a successful season. As many as eleven of the team gained representative honours, these being G. G. Aitken, A. Jackson, J. O. J. Malfroy, A. Murray, A. D. McRae, H. Riggs, D. H. Scott, S. K. Siddells, C. B. Thomas, J. Trapski and H. N. Burns, whilst S. K. Siddells was in the North Island team. The touring Sydney University team defeated V.U.C. 21 to 14. S. K. Siddells, A. Jackson, D. H. Scott, C. B. Thomas, A. D. McRae and H. N. Burns represented the New Zealand University.

Jackson, Aitken, Malfroy, Thomas, D. Scott and McRae, retained their places in the representative team in 1923, whilst I. A. Hart and Max Smith were also in the team. In the New Zealand Universitv team were Thomas, McRae, Malfroy and Riggs.

Many fine players wore the green and gold during these seasons and there always seemed more equally promising youngsters ready to step into the shoes of those who dropped out of the game.

page 70

Eight players were again in the representative team the next season, Malfroy, Martin-Smith, Hart, Riggs and Max Smith gaining further dates on their representative caps, whilst F. Britland, C. J. O'Regan, and E. Walpole were in for the first time. Most of the famous figures of the immediate post-war years had now gone but promising youngsters were coming on fast.

Then commenced a four year period of 'Varsity football success which fully lived up to the playing traditions made by such figures as George Aitken, Albert Jackson, Keith Siddells and their contem-poraries. 'Varsity were third in the senior championship, drawing 15 all with Poneke, the champions, in the second round. Hart, Walpole, E. T. W. (Tui) Love, Malfroy, R. H. C. Mackenzie, S. Joll, Martin-Smith and O'Regan gained representative honours, and Burns, Martin-Smith (captain), Mackenzie, Malfroy, O'Regan (captain), G. J. Sceats and Walpole playing in the New Zealand University team in the Tests with Sydney University. The Club defeated Sydney University for the first time by 16 to 8.

1926 saw the team even stronger. 'Varsity were runners-up in the senior grade, and played really good football. The team was strong both back and forward, as can be seen from the Wellington representative list. F. Noble-Adams, J. D. Mackay, L. J. South, Malfroy, Sceats, Mackenzie and Leys (backs), and Burns, Martin-Smith (captain), J. Platts-Mills, O'Regan and S. C. Childs (forwards), all being in the Wellington representative team, whilst Tui Love gained a place in the New Zealand Maori All Blacks who toured Great Britain, France and Canada.

During the next season the Club occupied a prominent place once again in the senior championship, being third. New players were coming on and it seemed inevitable that before long 'Varsity would achieve their ambition—that of winning a Senior A Championship. Mackenzie. O'Regan, F. S. Ramson and E. E. Blacker repped for Wellington, whilst Childs, Love (vice-captain), O'Regan and Burns toured Australia with the New Zealand University team.

1928 was 'Varsity's peak year in Rugby. Few who followed the team's successes will forget rhe magnificent games they played that season. The Senior A Championship was won at last after a great final with Poneke, and University after many disappointments had done it at last. Eight players represented Wellington in one or more of the representative engagements, those being Noble-Adams, E. Brown, Ramson, Mackay, Mackenzie, Leys, O'Regan and Blacker, whilst Craig Mackenzie and Doug. Mackay were in the All Blacks. The Club also won the National Mutual Cup, being represented on this occasion by almost a Senior B team. It was this year that rhe University Team in each of the four centres won the Senior A Championship, Sydney University winning also the Sydney Senior A grade.

1929, and again the Senior A Championship was won. Again the team was powerful both in the forwards and backs, and even more players represented Wellington, those being F. Cormack, E. K. Eastwood, Ramson, Mackay, Mackenzie (captain), Leys, H. Cormack, C. E. Dixon, R. E. Diederich and J. M. Edgar, whilst in the New Zealand University Test teams against the first Australian Universities team to tour New Zealand the following V.U.C. men were included: Mackenzie (captain), Leys, Mackay, Blacker and Edgar. "Tiny" Leys gained his All Black Cap touring Australia with the New Zealand team. J. O. J. Malfroy, for years a member of our Club, who had gone to Cambridge with a travelling scholarship in Law, had, we learned, gained a place in the 1928 Great British team for the Argentine. Victoria in the first match against an Australian Universities side were defeated in a close contest by 6 to 3.

In 1930 a 'Varsity football as well as an economic slump set in. From champions 'Varsity dropped to last place. Many things were blamed for this eclipse, but of these the alteration to the old kick-into-touch rule was mainly responsible. Ramson (who will forget his magnificent game against Great Britain?) Blacker, Mackay and Diederich were in the representative side, despite University's poor showing.

1931—four matches played, four matches won, and a really powerful side in the field. Then the New Zealand University team left for Australia, taking with it Mackay, Diederich, Dixon and J. H. Ruru, and the loss was too great. 'Varsity did not win another game until late in the season, injuries playing havoc with the team after the men returned from Australia. Mackay was reserve back for New Zealand at Auckland as well as page 71 gaining a place in the Wellington team, as did Diederich, Blacker, Ruru and F. Cormack. Ruru also represented the New Zealand Maoris against Australia.

The following season was another year of dis-appointments, the senior team managing to get in a win now and again. Representative honours went to Diederich (captain), N. Hislop and Ruru (unable to tour).

1933 saw the team relegated to the new second division of the Senior A, and again the University Tests with Australia ruined the team's chances of success. The team missed promotion to the first division of the Senior A and were runners-up in the second division. C. M. Ongley and J. Wells gained places in the Wellington representative team, and Diederich (captain), Wells and W. A. Edwards were in the New Zealand University team. Victoria defeated the touring Australian Universities team by 21 to 15.

This year the team has had to fight hard, and all things considered has done well, gaining promotion to the first division of the Senior A. The Club's sole representative in the representative team was Jack Ruru, whose tragic death took away all the pleasure we knew when two lower grade teams, the Third C's and Fourths, won their respective championships, an unheard of thing in the Club.

In 1931 work was commenced on a practice ground behind the gymnasium, and this ground was completed in 1933, a great improvement to the training facilities of the Club.

Annually a match is played between a team of players under twenty-one representing V.U.C. and Te Aute College, and these games have invariably resulted in expositions of football at its best, while Massey College is now played every year.

As can be seen, 'Varsity football has had its periods of football success and failure, and has taken them both with a smile. The public has always liked 'Varsity as a team, and it is to be hoped they always will. Certainly if the side remembers the great figures of the past who have made the Club by their open and sporting play, few complaints will come from 'Varsity's most consistent admirer—the man on the bank.

J. A. Carrad