Friday, August 28, 2015

Bugger, Thrice Bugger!

Radio reports this morning have the Omihi Public Hall on the corner of Reeces Rd and SH 1 20kms north of the rapidly growing "waiting for God" town of Amberley, destroyed by fire.

That is a bit of my history and it leaves a wound.
In 1990, swmbo and self lost a home in the Wairarapa settlement of Bideford and those scars are still raw 25 years on.
In any NZ remote rural district "The Hall along with the school are the hub, the center of the community, the loss of either damaging that heart and soul, the community cement if you will.

My first memory of what was the 'home ground of Glenmark Rugby, an iconic team of North Canterbury Sub Union, came not from the winter game but from that 'Domain hosting the Gymkhana as a summer holiday event c1960, where horse sport fanatics gathered for displaying some very basic skills in fierce competition.

Situated on a couple of acres of land donated by local farmer Bob Little who owned the surrounding farm, the Domain with its Hall, the Anzac memorial and the primary school opposite on the side road, with the Railway siding and two or three railway houses half a km to the north that was Omihi in 1964.
Following marriage, my first job was in the Omihi district and membership of that rugby club, Glenmark. In those days had no All Blacks, Griz had just left school and the now impressive roll of notable ABs were still in the future. Most Rural clubs had a service town to support the player roster with stock agents, school teachers, staff from a garage, a store, a transport company, a local builder and a shearing contractor to augment the farming youth. In Glenmark's case the farming youth was it, yet the club fashioned a formidable reputation.
Oh to be sure Local Farmer Jack Sloss, one of the larger farm operators, employed some promising young men, as getting a job working for Jack had rugby ability as a major prerequisite skill.

When I was a member, the club operated out of the typical HQ for any country club of the day, consisting of two concrete block changing rooms with shared showers and the basic tea room where the Sheila's made the afternoon teas, for the after match before the players returned home to do the farm chores. A construction that doubled as the "pavilion for the adjacent tennis club.
The Hall was merely the site of the "annual Football Club Ball" at seasons end  that possibly created a spike in the local birth rate some nine months later.

In later years as the clubs mana increased with  the succession of All Blacks commencing with Alex Griz Wylie came out of that remarkable Club.
Robbie and Bruce Deans, Richard Loe, Andy Earl, Scott Hamilton all bred in the district plus Andy Jefford, Todd Blackadder Graeme Higginson and Craig Green as Club players who made the All Blacks led to the adjacent Hall becoming the club HQ.

It seems that hall with its club memorabilia has been razed in a dead of night blaze, so many memories, so sad but as with our loss c1990 no one lost their life, still, bugger, bugger,  bugger.

1 comment:

Chris Bird said...

Very sad to hear this news this morning. My mums family farmed in that area for many years, on the Omihi saddle, and she and her 7 brothers and sisters went to the Omihi school, so would have used the hall.My parents were married at the Glenmark Church and had their wedding reception in that hall in 1950.