Place to re­mem­ber old Grafton

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Scott Morgan

The glory days of the for­mer Grafton rugby clu­b­rooms are be­ing re­mem­bered, thanks to the build­ing’s new owner.

Doc­u­men­tary maker Bruce Nixon, who bought part of the Mt Eden prop­erty ear­lier this year, plans to line the walls with old pho­tos of the club.

“When I bought it, the real es­tate agent said she thought it was a for­mer rugby club,” he says.

“So I thought it would be quite fit­ting to find out a bit more.”

As he dug deeper, Mr Nixon dis­cov­ered Grafton was known as the mag­pies and had a black and white striped jer­sey, like the Hawke’s Bay pro­vin­cial side he sup­ported for many years.

Mr Nixon de­cided to get in touch with for­mer mem­bers of the club, which was founded in 1873 and folded in 1982.

“I just want to do it a bit of jus­tice,” he says.

And when for­mer Grafton play­ers re­vis­ited the old clu­b­rooms, it was clear the build­ing held many mem­o­ries.

For­mer Auck­land Blues man­ager Rex Davy, who played for the club in the 1950s, is as­tounded that some of the orig­i­nal fix­tures are still in­tact.

“They’ve kept the old tongue and groove ceil­ings,” he says.

“The shape of the build­ing it­self is still the same.”

But Mr Davy says the in­te­rior, which has been di­vided into res­i­den­tial units, bears lit­tle re­sem­blance to its for­mer life.

“It was our chang­ing room as well as the club­house and we only had one shower,” Mr Davy says.

“We didn’t have any plush head­quar­ters like to­day, but that’s all we re­ally needed.”

Colin Craigie played for Grafton and rep­re­sented Auck­land dur­ing the 1950s.

“We used to go for train­ing runs up the side of Mt Eden,” he says.

“You couldn’t drink at the club so ev­ery­one used to drink at the Ed­in­burgh Cas­tle.

“If we won you couldn’t get in the place, but if we lost it was just the us and a cou­ple of sup­port­ers,” Mr Craigie says.

The high pro­por­tion of po­lice­men who played for Grafton also made for some in­ter­est­ing mo­ments.

For­mer club mem­ber Lou Farndon re­mem­bers one day in the 1960s when a star player couldn’t take to the field be­cause he was on duty.

“The next thing you know a po­lice car ar­rived at the ground with sirens blaz­ing and the guy ready to play,” he says.

Grafton amal­ga­mated with the Corn­wall club in 1982 be­cause of fall­ing mem­ber­ship.

“The fam­i­lies spread into the sub­urbs so the city didn’t have a lot of kids,” Mr Davy says.

Sev­eral more merg­ers fol­lowed, with Grafton now part of to­day’s Gram­mar Carl­ton.

Grafton won Auck­land club rugby’s top prize, the Gal­la­her Shield, in 1934 and 1946, while they picked up the sec­ond di­vi­sion Por­tola Tro­phy in 1966.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

The good old days: Cur­rent owner Bruce Nixon, with for­mer Grafton rugby club mem­bers Colin Craigie, Rex Davy and Lou Farndon in front of the for­mer clu­b­rooms.

Photo cour­tesy of JUNE WHITE

Win­ning side: The Grafton pre­mier side who won the Por­tola Tro­phy sec­ond di­vi­sion club ti­tle in 1966.

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