Big occasion at Ascot Park
Bernie Wood honoured as new turf is opened
Bernie Wood would have hated all the attention he received on Sunday.
The rugby league historian and administrator, who died in April, was the key driver behind the installation of an artificial turf in Ascot Park.
It was formally opened by his wife Tricia and Porirua mayor Nick Leggett and is called the Bernie Wood Synthetic Sports Field.
The consensus among guests at the unveiling was that Mr Wood would have hated his name emblazoned at the entrance to the $1.9 million facility.
Tricia Wood said her husband was driven by seeing children playing on Elsdon Park’s hockey turf from 7am till 9pm, while junior rugby, league and football was cancelled because of wet grounds.
‘‘He would have been absolutely delighted to see this day. It was his vision and passion and he was ahead of his time,’’ she said.
‘‘The one thing he regretted was not getting a naming rights [sponsor], but it meant his own name could be used.
‘‘I’m not sure he would’ve liked that, but it means his legacy endures. What’s most important is that kids of any sport will use it – that’s what he wanted.’’
Her family had hoped it would be opened while Bernie was still alive, but the day after the dedi- cation was Bernie’s birthday, so Tricia said it was perhaps ‘‘more fitting’’.
Western Suburbs Soccer Club chairman Nigel Hiller said Mr Wood’s ‘‘dedication to the cause’’ had led the soccer club and Porirua Vikings League Club to be partners in an example of ‘‘the best turf in the southern hemisphere’’.
Bayern Munich FC trained on a similar surface and it has had accreditation from Fifa and the International Rugby Board, he said.
The Ascot Park turf has stateof-the-art shock pad technology.
Ngati Toa kaumatua Taku Parai led a walk from halfway to bless the turf and then Western Suburbs and Vikings juniors played mini tournaments.
More photos, P 26
Proud family: Bernie Wood’s family at the entrance to the turf that bears his name – from left, Lachlan Woodsmith, Katrina Wood, Zachary Woodsmith, Ella Woodsmith and Tricia Wood.