Last hur­rah for sports so­cial club

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STE­WART ni­cola.ste­wart@wrcn.co.nz

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.

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