Hunt on for for­mer Pi­rates play­ers

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - FRANCES FER­GU­SON

A le­gacy of great rugby play­ers will be cel­e­brated at the 65th re­u­nion of the Pi­rates Rugby Foot­ball Club.

Held over two days start­ing on Fri­day Au­gust 12 past mem­bers will get the chance to rem­i­nisce in the clubs his­tor­i­cal foot­steps.

Formed in 1951 the club was cre­ated to cater for the town’s thriv­ing pop­u­la­tion.

For­mer pres­i­dent Gerry Port­e­gys, 77, said by 1958 there was a se­nior team, se­nior B, un­der 21s, un­der 19s and the Ju­nior Ad­vi­sory Board.

The Board had 21 teams of boys start­ing at 5 years old.

‘‘There was a need to form a sec­ond club. The first sawmill was up and run­ning in Kin­leith so there was peo­ple stream­ing into town.’’

Port­e­gys joined in 1958 at 19-years-old straight out of high school.

‘‘I was ap­proached by peo­ple who told me there was only one team to join and that was Pi­rates.’’

Play­ing all the way through to 1964 he left to go on a OE.

Re­turn­ing in 1978 Port­e­gys worked on the com­mit­tee un­til 1991.

At one stage three clubs ex­isted in the tim­ber town to cater for the pop­u­la­tion.

The high­light in the club’s his­tory is marked by the se­nior team mak­ing the fi­nals against Hamil­ton Marist.

In 1983 Toko­roa hosted the Brew­ery Shield match which drew the big­gest crowd Port­e­gys said.

‘‘It was the only time the club had been in a fi­nal. It was elec­tric.

‘‘The at­mos­phere was amaz­ing. Ev­ery­body be­came Pi­rates fans.’’

Play­ing in the pour­ing rain bus loads of sup­port­ers con­verged on the field.

The home­town lost but the mem­ory still marks an im­por­tant mile­stone for the club.

All Black, Paul Koteka was on the home side.

‘‘Toko­roa has pro­duced so many tal­ented play­ers in dif­fer­ent codes.

‘‘I think it’s the makeup of the town and it’s still hap­pen­ing.’’

The club ex­panded to in­clude Cricket, Soft­ball and Net­ball.

‘‘This in­cluded a se­nior women’s team.

In 2000 the Toko­roa Rugby Foot­ball Club and Pi­rates amal­ga­mated to cre­ate the South­ern United Rugby Foot­ball Club.

‘‘Toko­roa has been suc­cess­ful in the num­ber of promi­nent peo­ple it has pro­duced and long may they con­tinue do­ing that.’’

For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact Dave Heath­coat at dav­e­heath@telokmsa.net or Mike Ran­dall on mikeran­dall@telkomsa.net

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