Farewell to the old South Stand
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.
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.