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The Spike Golden Jubilee Number May 1949

Sport at Victoria College

Sport at Victoria College

It seems only yesterday that I was fortunate to witness the three miles New Zealand Championship held in Dunedin in 1914 when Athol Hudson, New Zealand Rhodes Scholar in 1916, sensationally defeated by nearly 400 yards the famous Jimmy Beatson, who had just a few weeks earlier won the Australasian three mile title. Hudson's death in World War I was a severe loss both academically and athletically to New Zealand, as well as to Victoria University College. I could devote all my time this evening telling you about this splendid athlete. I could also devote much time telling you about George Aitken, 1921 Rhodes Scholar, who captained the All Blacks the same year and who later won his Scottish International cap; of Jackie Ruru, a young Maori player whose career was cut short by illness brought about by his participation in rugby football; and of Ross Scrymgeour, champion harrier of his day, who lost his life in World War II, and who still holds the three mile New Zealand University record.

But the sporting history of Victoria College is not just the history of outstanding athletes—it is the history of the large participation in healthy recreation by those who have realised the value of such recreation in assisting to regenerate a tired brain—it is the history also of many lasting friendships which extend throughout the world.

It was only natural with the arrival in 1899 of the four foundation professors—H. Mackenzie, J. R. Brown, T. H. Easterfield and R. C. Maclaurin, men steeped in the traditions of the Universities of the Motherland—that sport should play a fundamental part in the life of the students.

Tennis was the first sport to gain official recog-nition at Victoria College, it being recorded that a tennis club was formed in 1900. Then quickly followed: Hockey 1901, Rugby 1903, Athletics 1904 and Cricket 1906.

The first record of tennis being played by students of V.U.C. was in a match against Canterbury University College. Representing V.U.C. in that memorable match were Misses Greenfield and Ross, and Messrs Richmond, Burns and Wilson (who later became Professor F. P. Wilson), other earlier representatives being Rawdon Beere and Misses A. M. Batham and Van Staveren.

A date of historic interest to tennis at Victoria is September 9th, 1905. On that day the Rt. Hon. Richard John Seddon turned the first sod of our own courts. This was just the start. Saturday after Saturday, bands of students, organised by Rawdon Beere and others, worked with pick and shovel to make the courts available. By November 3rd, 1906, the first three courts "on the old clay patch at Kelburn" were opened by Professor Easterfield. In 1907 the fourth court was completed.

Associated with Victoria College tennis will always be the name of Cam Malfroy, who secured page 35 world rating in the 1930's. Representing New Zealand at Davis Cup tennis, too, was Russell Young. Others who have helped to bring tennis to the forefront are G. S. Prouse, G. V. Bogle, Charlie Atmore, Hec. Burns, Roly Ferkins and Norm. Morrison.

Now, having given tennis just the barest mention, I move on to hockey. It is a great pleasure to students and ex-students to pay tribute to the gentleman to whom belongs the distinction of forming the Hockey Club, Mr George Dixon, who is still actively interested in the sport, and is today President of the Wellington Hockey Association.

Hockey has always been popular in Victoria College and, in 1934, the College had the distinction of having the largest hockey club in Australia or New Zealand. At that time it fielded eight teams in the Wellington competition.

When talking of hockey at Victoria College the names which come most readily to mind are Eddie McLeod, Charlie Bollard and Norm. Jacobsen, the latter a player from whom the touring Indian hockey players said they had learned much about their own game. All these three players won New Zealand representation. Then, of course, the College was proud of the successes gained on the hockey field by Skelley, Ryburn, Rawdon Beere (Club captain for the first eight years), Monaghan, David Smith (now Sir David Smith, Chancellor of the University of New Zealand), Hector Lawry and Ivor Ting.

Next, Rugby football. What a lot of time I could devote to players who came from Victoria College to the Rugby field! I have already referred to George Aitken and Jackie Ruru. When I go back to the beginning of Rugby at the College I also meet with names famous in the world outside the College. In our first year the Committee included such men as Bogle, Gillanders, A. H. Johnstone, de la Mare, Hubert Ostler, Quartley and Tudhope.

New Zealand Rugby football history seems to date from 1905—the year of the immortal All Blacks—but Victoria College rugby, with the club formed in 1903, could claim that its history really started in 1904. From the 1934 issue of The Spike I take this quotation—"In 1904, Thomas A. Hunter, a newly appointed lecturer in Mental Science and Economics, joined the rearguard and it was this recruit that moved that 'next season we enter a senior team.' The motion was carried despite many misgivings." Had those at the meeting been able to visualise the future as had that new recruit there would have been no misgivings. The Club went from strength to strength and we all have to thank our present Principal of the University, Sir Thomas A. Hunter, for his wisdom and his guidance at that time—for he was that new recruit. Sir Thomas captained our first senior team.

Time will not permit me adequately to deal with the players from V.U.C. who have made their names in representative football, but some that I must mention are Bogle, who was a Scottish trial international in 1911-12, McNaught and Hanson, who were New Zealand Army representatives in 1919, George Aitken, Captain of the 1921 All Blacks against South Africa and a Scottish International, Keith Siddells, an AM Black against South Africa in 1921, Tui Love, of Maori Battalion fame in World War II, who, in 1926 gained a place in the New Zealand Maori team to tour Great Britain and France, Jackie Ruru, a 1931 New Zealand Maori representative, Craig McKenzie and Doug. Mackay (All Blacks in 1928), Tiny Leys (All Black in 1929), and Jules Malfroy (with the 1928 British team which toured Argentine), and in more recent years, Jacob, New Zealand Maori representative in 1946 and 1948.

I desire also to place on record the great interest and enthusiasm always displayed by Professor Boyd Wilson and the late Professor H. B. Kirk in the activities of our Rugby football club and its members.

Next to Rugby, perhaps track and field athletics have brought Victoria College sport most into the limelight. In recent years the College has not been very strong in this sport, but the history of track and field is one of outstanding success. Mr G. F. Dixon, already mentioned for his grand work in connection with hockey, was one of those responsible for the formation of our Athletic Club, thus ensuring the success of the athletic events at In addition to Mr Dixon, the club owed much to the help given by Professor Easterfield—himself a Cambridge Blue—de la Mare and Tom Seddon.

Victoria College athletes have won 37 New Zealand titles and three Australasian titles. Australasian title winners have been L. A. Tracy (440 yards) 1924, Roger Lander (120 yards hurdles) 1927, and Stan Ramson (440 yards hurdles) 1927. Three New Zealand records have been credited to Victoria College athletes . . . the 100 yard sprint Malcolm Leadbetter in 9.8 seconds, the 120 yards hurdles 15.2 seconds by Roger Lander and the 440 yards hurdles 56.8 seconds by Stan Ramson. Ten of our college athletes have had the honour of representing New Zealand in track and field. They are C. B. Allan, Charlie Jenkins, Roger Lander, Malcolm Leadbetter, Don Priestley, Wilf. Kalaugher, Stan Ramson, Geof. Sceats, A. B. Sievwright and the speaker. At the Olympic Games in 1928, Victoria College had W. G. Kalaugher as a representative in the New Zealand team.

In 1906, fifteen enthusiasts, largely inspired by Allan Macdougall, Rhodes Scholar, decided that a cricket club should be formed, when two teams were entered in the Wellington Cricket Association's competitions. In 1909, the club was classified with senior status. Three College cricketers have actually represented New Zealand while playing for the V.U.C. Club. They are—in the 1929-30 season Eddie McLeod (whom as I have mentioned earlier page 36 was also a New Zealand Hockey representative), J. A. R. Blandford 1935-36 season and J. A. Ongley 1939. Others who have also represented New Zealand while attending the College are H. W. Monaghan, Ken James, Harry Foley and Eric Tindall. Among the names of those who have attained Wellington representative honours appear Frank Joplin, Gilbert Howe, Carl Berendsen (now Sir Carl Berendsen), D. Foster, J. F. W. Dickson, J. Fanning, Craig McKenzie, Maurice Hollings, Tiny Leys and W. Tricklebank.

With time marching on, I find that there are many sports I have not mentioned, such as Boxing, coupled with the name of Fred Desmond; Swimming—the name of Des Dowse comes to mind. Fencing, Basketball, Association Football, Cross Country Running with the name of H. E. Moore, New Zealand Champion in 1921, Rowing and Table Tennis. All of these sports are well established and have each and every one of them helped to foster the university spirit. Then again there are those two wonderful annual gatherings of university sportsmen. First, the Easter Tournament established in 1902 as a result of the efforts of that great collegian, George Dixon, and secondly the Winter Tournament established some five years ago.

With time almost up, I want to pay a special tribute to two men. There are, I know, others who have done a tremendous amount of work in assisting sport at the College, but I do feel that the College, and those who have represented the College in any sphere of sport, are indebted to these two gentlemen. First, Mr Geo. Dixon, who entered the College in 1899—the year of the College birth—and who since then has always been, and even today fifty years later, still is an ardent toiler for the College. No man has done as much for the sport of the College. Secondly, I would like to express appreciation to our Principal, Sir Thomas Hunter, who joined the staff in 1904. Sir Thomas has always been most willing to assist in many ways and his enthusiasm has helped over many a difficulty. To these two gentlemen I say "Thank you." I feel, looking back through the history of sport at Victoria College, that these two gentlemen can always be proud of the wonderful heritage they have given Victoria University College.

L. A. Tracy

To Readers

Some of the advertisers in this issue have been supporting Victoria College through thick and thin for a number of years. It would help them, and it would express your appreciation, if you were to buy from them. And when buying, please mention The Spike.