Farewell to the old South Stand

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Morgan

The hon­ours boards have been put in stor­age and the spot where for­mer All Black cap­tain David Kirk hoisted the Rugby World Cup in 1987 will soon be gone.

But the events that took place within Eden Park’s old South Stand will be re­mem­bered for many years af­ter its re­place­ment is built for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

For­mer Eden Park fa­cil­i­ties man­ager Bruce Han­vey re­mem­bers many mag­i­cal rugby mo­ments in the 49year-old stand.

“Back in the 1980s club rugby was very big at Eden Park. There were lots of lit­tle chang­ing rooms and none of them had show­ers,” he says.

“In­stead there was an old con­crete shower block – there were me­tres of show­ers.”

Af­ter club rugby moved out to sub­ur­ban grounds, th­ese tiny spa­ces housed the likes of ball-boys and po­lice for the big games.

The main chang­ing rooms were lit­tle bet­ter, with a ma­jor re­vamp in the mid-1990s pro­vid­ing an ad­e­quate space for in­ter­na­tional teams.

But Mr Han­vey, who is now a project man­ager over­see­ing the park’s re­de­velop- ment, says the new chang­ing rooms will be far su­pe­rior to their pre­de­ces­sors.

“The height will be about 4.8 me­tres so they can throw a ball around.”

He also re­calls the days when play­ers in­clud­ing for­mer Auck­land and All Black hooker Sean Fitz­patrick would show up late for train­ing af­ter a day at work on the build­ing site.

That was dur­ing Auck­land’s fa­mous nine-year Ran­furly Shield reign be­tween 1985 and 1993.

“They were all great guys to have around,” he says.

But it wasn’t just the play­ers who en­joyed the use of the South Stand fa­cil­i­ties.

Mr Han­vey says there were many great af­ter-match func­tions held in the spectators’ lounge.

“In the old days it was al­ways prac­ti­cally full. They had some rip-roar­ing par­ties in there.”

And that con­tin­ued with the con­struc­tion of cor­po­rate boxes in 1987.

The rem­nants of the South Stand will end up in sev­eral dif­fer­ent homes, with items such as car­pet and signs from the stand al­ready sold to the pub­lic through a char­ity auc­tion.

Mean­while, big­ger items such as seats from the stand have gone to other sport­ing groups such as New Zealand Row­ing, while Coun­ties Manukau Rugby also get seats and lights for their sta­dium at Pukekohe.

As an in­terim mea­sure, tem­po­rary lights and me­dia fa­cil­i­ties have been erected in front of the new stand’s con­struc­tion site.

Mr Han­vey says he will re­mem­ber the stand with fond­ness af­ter so many years.

“We will re­mem­ber the good games, but we’re think­ing for­ward.”

Eden Park Re­de­vel­op­ment Board chief ex­ec­u­tive Adam Fee­ley says the stand com­ing down feels like real progress is be­ing made.

“I’m feel­ing pretty pos­i­tive. I think the gen­eral feel­ing is it’s time for some­thing new,” he says.

The new 21,500-seat stand is ex­pected to be fin­ished by the end of 2010.

Pho­tos: JA­SON OXENHAM

Win­ning mo­ment: Bruce Han­vey sur­veys Eden Park from the spot in the South Stand where David Kirk held aloft the Rugby World Cup in 1987.

Sold: Even some of the South Stand’s old “Eden Park” car­pet was auc­tioned off for char­ity.

Out the back: A view of the back of the South Stand be­fore de­mo­li­tion.

Into the crowd: A view of the old South Stand from the pitch at Eden Park. Tem­po­rary me­dia fa­cil­i­ties and lights have been erected di­rectly in front of the lower level seats.

The good old days: Project man­ager Bruce Han­vey checks out Auck­land Rugby’s hon­ours boards be­fore they were re­moved from the South Stand.

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