Fit­ting farewell for sports fan


When one of Horowhenua-Ka¯piti rugby and cricket’s big­gest sup­port­ers Bruce Mar­tin was farewelled, the dress code re­flected the man.

At his re­quest, peo­ple wore rugby and cricket at­tire for the funeral on Satur­day. Guests obliged, many wear­ing the uni­forms of Mar­tin’s beloved Wer­aroa Cricket Club and Ath­letic Rugby Foot­ball Club.

At least 250 peo­ple turned out to the Levin Do­main to pay their re­spects to Mar­tin, 68, who died on Oc­to­ber 31 fol­low­ing a bat­tle with spinal cancer.

The ‘‘of­fi­ci­at­ing ref­eree and um­pire’’ of the funeral ser­vice was pa­tron of the Wer­aroa club and one of Mar­tin’s long­time friends, Ken Swain.

Mar­tin’s pre­vi­ous visit to the Do­main was on Oc­to­ber 21 when he got to see the Horowhen­u­aKa¯piti pro­vin­cial rugby team beat Buller, 18-17, to be­come first-time fi­nal­ists in a Heart­land Cham­pi­onship.

Un­for­tu­nately he was not well enough the fol­low­ing Satur­day to at­tend the de­cid­ing match for the Meads Cup, re­tained by de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Wan­ganui, 30-14.

Two weeks prior Mar­tin fea- tured in a Stuff ar­ti­cle af­ter the Horowhenua-Ka¯piti pro­vin­cial rugby team vis­ited him at the Levin Home for War Vet­er­ans where he had lived for just over a month.

Coach Chris Wilton said they had made sev­eral vis­its, fol­low­ing Tues­day night train­ings, to show their ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Mar­tin’s years of in­volve­ment with the team. ‘‘We could see his health de­te­ri­o­rat­ing and even though he was in pain he’d make the si­t­u­a­tion eas­ier for the boys, al­ways com­ing out with some­thing funny, with him be­ing the char­ac­ter he was.’’

Dur­ing the team’s fi­nal visit on Oc­to­ber 24, Mar­tin per­suaded them to do a haka – some­thing Wilton said they were re­luc­tant to do, with rest homes be­ing ‘‘very quiet places at 9.30pm’’.

How­ever, Wilton said they de­cided to go ahead and also give it 100 per cent, ‘‘un­leash­ing a loudas haka’’.

On the way to Satur­day’s funeral, Mar­tin was driven around to his old Levin sport­ing venues – his homes away from home – the Wer­aroa Do­main, Play­ford Park, and Don­nelly

Park. He was also taken to Le­vana, for­merly Jer­sey Fab­rics, his work­place for many years.

In the open­ing trib­ute, Ken Swain said that dur­ing their rep­re­sen­ta­tive cricket play­ing days Mar­tin was al­ways ded­i­cated to his team and club.

‘‘In later years he par­tic­u­larly en­joyed the work­ing bees at the start of the sea­son and he loved to help pre­pare the wick­ets on the Wer­aroa Do­main, es­pe­cially us­ing the cricket pitch reel mower.’’

Swain said Mar­tin was also known for rid­ing his bike through Levin. ‘‘Bruce went every­where on it and be­cause he was such a like­able bloke, peo­ple got to know him.’’

Mar­tin was the old­est of four sib­lings, and he also had four half­si­b­lings.

Sis­ter Heather Mar­tin said he had no chil­dren of his own, but was ‘‘ab­so­lutely adored’’ by his nieces and neph­ews.

Horowhenua District Coun­cil had no records of an­other funeral be­ing held pre­vi­ously at the Levin Do­main. Parks and prop­erty man­ager Arthur Nel­son said the coun­cil would gen­er­ally not sanc­tion such use of the fa­cil­ity.

‘‘How­ever, in this par­tic­u­lar case there was a strong view in the lo­cal sport­ing com­mu­nity that such a cel­e­bra­tion was fit­ting be­cause of the strong in­flu­ence that Bruce Mar­tin had on rugby and cricket in the district.’’

See MORE PHO­TOS, page 10


Wer­aroa Cricket Club mem­bers salute at the end of Bruce Mar­tin’s funeral at Levin Do­main on Satur­day. Left, Mar­tin with the Bruce Steel tro­phy.

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