The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, 1939
To players and supporters alike of the Victoria College Football Club, a review of the 1939 Rugby season must provide considerable gratification. The most cherished hope of recent years was realised when the first fifteen assumed once more its status as a senior team in the Wellington Rugby Union Competition. The team's record, though not perhaps spectacular, has been more than sufficient to justify promotion, as evidenced by the fact that of the sixteen matches played seven were won, one drawn and eight lost.
A pleasing aspect of the year's activities has been the keenness and devotion to training shown by all players, and, with the prospect of retaining the services of practically every member of the side for the 1940 season, we can with good reason be optimistic regarding the future.
We have been singularly fortunate in our coaches—Jim Parker, the famous 1924 All Black, and his able assistant. Dick Wild. The credit for the team's improved showing is largely due to the splendid work of Jim and Dick, and to the inspiring leadership of our popular captain, Dick Burke.
In conclusion, our congratulations are cordially extended to Dick Burke, Roy Hansen and Stew McNicol for gaining places in the N.Z. University team, and to the same three players, together with Jim Eastwood, on their selection in Wellington representative sides.
The team had a good season and the following is a summary of the results:—Played 16, Won 10, Drew 1, Lost 5, Points for 165, Points against 123, Championship points 21. At the finish of the season it occupied third place on the list of Junior A grade table in a field of fourteen teams—a very creditable effort.
The even calibre of the competitors may be gauged by the fact that the winning team. Training College, were lucky to snatch their game with our team out of the fire with a penalty kick in the last minute of the game, making the score 8—6. The other team which finished ahead. Upper Hutt, scraped home 6—3 after a close game in which our team was handicapped through a breakdown in transport and took the field disorganised and with two players short.
Any team must expect some measure of bad luck during the season but it does seem, looking back, that the Junior A's did not have any of the luck that was going and with a turn of fortune's wheel the position might have been different.
The important feature of the season's operations however was not the actual result of the grade competition but the promise displayed by some of the players to whom the Club must look for future strength.
This matter is one which was kept steadily in view through the season and an effort was made to unearth and encourage talent which it is hoped will serve the Club in the higher grade in coming years.
The players stuck together remarkably well and the majority of the matches occupied the same eighteen players, while only twenty-two were called on all through the season. Their conduct and keenness and the real team spirit displayed is a matter for congratulation.
It is not surprising under these conditions that it is difficult to pick out any outstanding performers. The keynote of the whole operations was team play and unselfishness. It might help however to introduce a few of the younger men who showed improvement during the season and may develop into senior players. They are:—
H. Greig. This nineteen-year-old ex-Wellington College player is 6ft. lin., weighs 13st. 7lbs., and possesses pace, a good sense of position, and a remarkable boot.page 61
There isn't a longer or stronger kicker in any grade in Wellington. He must produce more determination in his tackling and rush-stopping and should pay attention to his ground work.
T. Mahood. A dashing determined winger always dangerous when he gets the ball. He is a most determined tackier and no one could fault his defence, possessing as he does pace to reach a man and the necessary grit and punch to bring him down every time when he gets to him. His handling is a trifle raw but will improve. A distinctly promising player.
L. Papps. This boy learnt his football in Taranaki at New Plymouth High School, a grand nursery of football. He is the complete footballer and has developed his whole game on sound lines. He is only nineteen and has a bright football future. No matter where he is played he does a tradesmanlike job and must be a prospect for senior honours next year. If he has a real weakness it is a habit of trying to accept a pass with one hand.
L. Gander. A fine loose forward standing 6ft. and weighing I2st. 12lbs., Gander, who is nineteen, has everything necessary to reach All Black class. Good hands, complete command of the ball on the ground, and above all football brains mark his every game. He is inclined to be lazy however and must give more regard to driving home to the bitter end the bright movements he initiates.
C. Smith. The best forward of the team. Aged eighteen and not yet fully set, Smith in a year or so will be the mainstay of any pack he assists. Equally at home in the front row at lock or on the side of the scrum he works purposefully and tirelessly. Shows surprising speed when he breaks into the loose. Has no fault but lack of weight and he promises to develop into a powerful man in the next year or so.
N. Taylor. Hooking is his forte and he is a specialist. If he keeps on improving he will replace Burke when the time comes. Works hard in, the rucks but lacks speed in the open. However his job is to keep the backs supplied with the ball and he does that admirably.
Because these players have been specially mentioned it must not be thought that they were not adequately supported by the others who have not been specially mentioned. What has been attempted is merely to throw the spotlight on a few who are expected to improve still further. The season has been good fun, good hunting and will be looked back upon by every member of the team with pleasure.
This team did not have a good run during the season so far as championship points were concerned, but some good and enjoyable games were put up, notably that against our old rivals, Wellington College Old Boys, in which our team excelled itself, and alto against Athletic when the luck went a little bit our way. As a matter of cold fact it was almost impossible to play the same fifteen twice in succession owing to the calls of standard players who were given a run in this team and their old form returning were immediately transferred to a higher grade. In this regard the team could be regarded as of great service to the Club, but the team lacked that esprit dc corps so necessary to achieve success.
Some outstanding players that will go well in the future should be mentioned—Duncan and Heard in the forwards and Fitzgerald and Caradus in the backs, while Creed, although suffering injuries, turned out and filled the gaps caused by casualties, promotions, etc., and put heart into the team by his unselfish efforts.
Altogether the season's work could be regarded as successful and under, at time, very trying circumstances the game was still played in the best possible spirit.
This team had a successful season, coming second in the Championship Competition. The Club is fortunate in that among the members of this team there is much promising material for future senior sides. Two members gained Third grade representative honours, namely R. Te Punga and A. McLeod. During the season two members of the team, Cooney and Masters, assisted the seniors each on one occasion, whilst Cooney and Smart were members of the side, which played Canterbury University College at Christchurch. Other members of the team who showed considerable promise were Innes, Kilpatrlck and Taylor in the forwards, and M. Te Punga and Moore in the backs. The most improved player in the team was J. Kilpatrick who showed great improvement with every game and at the end of the season was an indispensable member. He has been awarded the Good Memorial Medal for the most improved player in the forwards of this team.
Although the efforts of this team were not crowned with much success their play on the whole showed A gradual improvement as the season progressed. An all-round weakness in tackling was difficult to strengthen and some system of coaching in orthodox low tackling must be kept in mind for next season.
The pack for the most part was good, especially in the loose, but several really good rushes were marred by raggedness, and consequent lack of finish led to failure of attacks to be pressed home on many occasions.
However, each Saturday saw fifteen on the field in spite of a procession of losses and keenness waxed rather than waned with each defeat.