Last hurrah for sports social club
A group of sports-mad Matamata blokes are closing out their innings with one last get-together to raise money for Pohlen Hospital.
The Final Reclining Sportsmen Club Charity Dinner will be the members’ first – and last – meeting in nearly 10 years.
Wales rugby coach, New Zealander Warren Gatland, will be the guest speaker. Club member Kerry Simpson said all proceeds would go towards construction of the new wing.
‘‘We had a reasonable amount of money left in the club account and I thought it was an opportunity, with the ex- chairman’s permission, to help out a very worthwhile cause.’’
The Reclining Sportsmen Club was started in the upstairs office of Mcsweeney and Neil Chemists, dubbed ‘‘the boardroom’’, where local men would meet for a beer or two and discuss sport.
The group decided to form a club and invite leading sportsmen of the day to speak at the meetings.
Guest speakers included New Zealand cricketer Sir Richard Hadlee, All Black Wayne Shelford, and New Zealand rugby league player Gary Freeman.
‘‘Up to 100 blokes would turn up four times a year to the meetings,’’ said Mr Simpson.
‘‘There was a cross-section of the entire community, farmers, lawyers, accountants, and we all had very strong opinions on sport. ‘‘We had some real characters.’’ The club ran regular meetings for seven years before several key members left the area.
Mr Simpson said the club was very excited and lucky to have Warren Gatland come to Matamata for the event.
Mr Gatland grew up in Hamilton and played rugby for Waikato and later the All Blacks. He has spent the past five years coaching Wales and was in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup last year.
The Final Reclining Sportsmen Club Charity Dinner will be held at Longlands Farm and Restaurant on July 18.
There are limited tickets available.
Two cricket bats, one signed by the Black Caps and one signed by the South African cricket team, will be up for auction on the night.