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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 2 (May 1, 1937)

Panorama of the Playground — Great Loss to New Zealand Sport

page 107

Panorama of the Playground
Great Loss to New Zealand Sport

During the last few weeks New Zealand sport has suffered severe losses by the deaths of Colonel Campbell and Mr. Dan McKenzie.

Both these men did much to mould the future of Rugby in New Zealand—at a time when to-day's national sport needed the support of men with vision.

Colonel Campbell was a founder of the famed Athletic Football Club (Wellington) and was to have been an honoured guest at its Diamond Jubilee celebrations, held at Easter. He passed away two weeks before this could be achieved.

Mr. McKenzie, well-known as a sporting journalist, in addition to his activities in Rugby and Cricket circles, was respected for his knowledge of rules, and one of his most successful feats was to broadcast the rules of Rugby in such a manner that the everyday citizen could reap some benefit and enjoyment from listening-in. Dry-as-dust rules were treated in the manner which reflected great credit on a veteran sportsman.

A Tribute to the Railways.

Progress was represented by the arrival of the Clipper ship in Auckland last month and day by day distance becomes less and less a bogey for travellers.

It is interesting to read the “Fifty Years Ago” columns in various New Zealand newspapers and then marvel at the progress made. Railway transport has shared in this move with the times and the large number of athletes who travelled by train to the N.Z. Amateur Athletic Association's championship meeting in Auckland are lavish with praise for the comfort of the mode of travelling.

It is a tribute to the comfortable seating arrangements that a small team of ten athletes should travel from Dunedin and win the championship shield against teams—much larger in numbers—the members of which had done little or no travelling. But that is the position. The Otago team travelling almost continuously not only won the shield but one of their members established the best performance at the meeting!

“An Amazing Athlete.”

The athlete mentioned in the preceding paragraph as having established the best performance at the N.Z. A.A.A. championship meeting held at Auckland was W. A. C. Pullar, who won the one mile championship in 4 min. 14 4/5 sec.—time only bettered once in New Zealand. Pullar, who has represented New Zealand in Australia as a cross-country runner, has held the 440 yards hurdling championship and the 10,000 metres crosscountry championship in addition to the one mile title he won at Auckland. He is an amazing athlete, and might well add an Empire title to his collection when he competes at the Empire Games next season. With A. R. Wilson, who finished second, less than a yard behind, Pullar set the third fastest second half of a mile race on record among what has been termed the “classic miles,” i.e., the fastest mile races from the time when W. G. George held the world's record in 1886 until the present time!

Youth and Age in Golf.

Youth will have its day! More and more does the axiom strike home. In the Auckland provincial golf championship, played a few weeks ago, R. E. Bell, a lad not yet seventeen years of age, won the championship from the former title-holder, H. D. Brins-den. Golf, of course, is a game for which youth has a definite advantage over age—with one exception, experience. Golf is a game of timing and body balance, and it must be admitted that these virtues are not improveu with the passing of the years. Mental balance, maybe, but body balance, seldom! The co-ordination of mind and muscle, the mental impulse—the speed of which makes the champion—is natural in the care-free days of youth, but dulled as a man grows older, and has his business and domestic worries.

(Riy. Publicity photo.) A timber train hauled by two “X” class locomotives leaving Ohakune Junction, North Island Main Trunk Line, New Zealand.

(Riy. Publicity photo.)
A timber train hauled by two “X” class locomotives leaving Ohakune Junction, North Island Main Trunk Line, New Zealand.

Where youth does suffer by comparison is in the final test where mental balance is needed to stiffen one's morale.

Our Foremost Motor Cyclist.

Harry Mangham retains his place as New Zealand's foremost motor-cyclist on a grass track. Competing at Napier Park a few weeks ago he won the New Zealand middleweight championship over seven laps of the racecourse, with an average speed of 62 m.p.h.

Mangham is a worthy successor to “Cannonball” Percy Coleman, who used to “bark” the skin off his knuckles by riding close to the rails about eighteen years ago.

The advent of speedway racing threatened extinction for grass-track racing, but there seems to be a swing toward the sport which flourished in the days immediately following the Great War.

Coleman and Whitehead were stars of the first degree, and those who saw them handling their machines—and the frames were not specially built for racing—will never forget the thrills they supplied.

An Old Sport Revived.

Slowly but surely wood-chopping as a sport is coming back to popular favour.

It has been stated that popularity of sporting exercises go in a cycle, and this does seem to be so.

A few years ago wood-chopping figured on the programme at nearly every sports gathering outside the page 108 cities. Those were the days when cash athletics flourished. Bad times saw cash sport suffer, and with no means of providing prizes many of the clubs ceased operating.

With the return of prosperity, these clubs are beginning to recommence from where they left off, and chopping is due for a boom period.

Quite recently the people at Danne-virke were thrilled by an exhibition of what was termed “Australian chopping.” In this contest the axemen had to cut notches up the side of a tree, insert foot-rests, and on reaching a mark near the top of the tree chop off the top.

The skill needed in fitting the foot-rests and the balance required when near the top makes for an event that is sure to appeal wherever it is staged.

Chopping is one of the big draw-cards at the Sydney Royal Show, and might well be included among New Zealand's Centennial displays.

Loss to New Zealand Cricket.

The tragic death in England of A. E. Relf removes one who had done much to raise the standard of cricket in New Zealand. He toured Australia under the captaincy of “Plum” Warner in 1903–04, and played for England against Australia in 1909.

It was in 1907 that Relf was brought out as a coach by the Auckland Cricket Association, and his first major engagement in New Zealand was in the first Plunket Shield game. Relf scored 157 and took eight Canterbury wickets in that match.

It was as a bowler that Relf did best in New Zealand, but his pupils kept Auckland's flag flying for many years after he finally returned to England in 1910.

Visit of the Springboks.

A few days after this is written, the South African Rugby footballers will leave their homeland en route for New Zealand.

In New Zealand, “strategists” have been advocating certain changes in New Zealand's style of play to overcome the Springbok mighty forward pack; in South Africa “strategists” have been advocating a lighter forward pack to meet the speedy New Zealand backs! Looks like a battle of tactics before the games commence!