Topic: Darfield Rugby Club Centennial Celebrations

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The much awaited centennial celebrations for the Darfield Club were a great success - a well deserved payoff for the planning, preparation, and involvement of many in the community.

The weather was perfect for the weekend of 8th and 9th of May.

A few trepidations were felt in the large turnout to the working bee on Thursday prior to the event. Their efforts to erect the marquee against our trusty nor-wester resulted in a nil all draw and postponement! Not to be daunted the same team of workers turned up the next day to win the match against the elements. In all there were three large marquees at the venue and a huge volunteer troupe arrived on Monday to dismantle and pack these away.

 Special mention is due to Craig Miller (President) and Stu Gillanders (Club Captain) who have laboured long and hard to present the grounds and buildings at their best. The club rooms were also spruced up by a team of ladies who proved their prowess at the end of paintbrushes! Not too many introductions were needed at Friday night's opening, as most faces were "just a bit older."

Following the Crusaders final losing score at Wellington's Westpac Stadium (seen on television) the "place really started to hum," said Jill Moore. The Darfield Netball Club catered superbly for this, the first function of the weekend. All Saturday matches were played at Darfield with only two of the eleven teams being defeated. The main match against Kirwee was followed by a good old get together of players in traditional country club style. All players in the club received a complimentary 'bag of goodies' which included a "Centennial beanie' generously sponsored by Wayne and Trudi Boyes Contracting Ltd.

The formal dinner was attended by three hundred and sixty people. Beautiful floral pieces were arranged by the Darfield Garden Club and the entertainment areas were decorated by Kristine Daly and her team of helpers. Name tags had been prepared by Lorraine Ridgen. A centennial cake baked by Liz McKay and iced by Joan Crequer was cut by the oldest former player, Jim Anderson (now of Oamaru) and Centennial Secretary, Jill Moore. The Master of Ceremonies (Dick Tayler) kept the programme moving and Colin Meads mingled freely with everyone, giving autographs and chatting most amicably as he moved about the crowd. The only disappointing aspect of the evening was the delay in serving so many the delicious food. Organisers were sorry that more servers were not made available for the high quality meal. This glitch meant that Colin's after dinner speech did not begin until midnight.

Twenty two specially made Centennial jerseys, modelled by the Darfield Rugby Ladies team, were auctioned with the highest bidder purchasing jersey number twelve, sold at $1360. It is a wonderful compliment to the Club and is a reflection of the commitment and pride that players, past and present, have in the Darfield colours. Auction funds will be put towards a future project for new showers and changing rooms.

Sunday saw the newly formed 'Ladies team' put on a good performance against Hornby. Following that the traditional 'Golden Oldies' game saw many past players put on the red and blue jersey again. Special thanks to the Kirwee Golden Oldies who assisted on the day. The Darfield Primary School PTA catered for a BBQ to help keep everyone's energy levels up to the action.

Brian Redfern, chairman of the Centennial Committee, offers his thanks to each and every member of the organising committee. "Everyone faithfully did their little bit to make it such a success," he said. "We have fourth generation players involved with the club and it is the help and support of these and other families that has brought the club to its present level of success. We gratefully acknowledge all those people who have assisted us over the past 100 years." With such an astounding degree of support and sponsorship from thirty six local businesses the Darfield Rugby Club is in great heart. Congratulations to you all!

Source: Malvern Record 18th May 2004

RUGBY THEN AND NOW!

Planning for the forthcoming Darfield Rugby Club centennial and publication of a book and the club's history by John Creamer has highlighted community involvement in the sport and comradery that is rugby.

Earliest records of the club's foundations were in 1922 when W G McCormack was the first Club President. Games were played at two different locations courtesy of the local farmers! One was a paddock near the sale yards in Cardale Street and the other a paddock which is now Churchlea Place.

The first annual subscription was a lofty three shillings! The earliest club rooms were affectionately called the "Red Shed" and was located near the netball pavilion at the Darfield Domain. The interior consisted of two rooms for teams to change, but regrettably no other mod cons. The after match wash and clean up was done in the nearby water race, a chilling experience for the hardiest men in mid-winter!

At the Domain in 1951, new club rooms were designed and built to incorporate changing rooms, showers, a social room and verandah. A huge effort to fundraise for this venture was made with many local businesses donating materials, services or money. Construction itself was done by supervised volunteer labour.

Over the years the club has benefited from the skilled help of the St John's Ambulance, attending matches regularly and providing medical first aid to player and spectators as required. Injury prevention and prompt treatment is an essential part of the vigorous contact sport and many locals have a debt of gratitude to "St Johns" for their care.

Others generous with their time are the many coaches, referees and linesmen who have contributed to the sport on a regular unpaid basis. A word here also for many "mums" who washed muddy gear and prepared the food and sausage rolls for "bring a plate" functions. The club has several families with father and sons playing for Darfield. The earliest of these were the Reardons, Stevensons, Mitchells and the Irvines.

In 1979 a toilet block was added to the Recreation Centre building at the Domain. This was once again due to great fundraising efforts. One of the more innovative fund raisers was a sponsored pole sitting. John Sheehan lived in a hut constructed on a 9 metre pole for an eight day period. "Babysitters" from the fund raising committee gave John moral support and meals were provided by Darfield Hotel and Darfield Tearooms. Other money raising ventures called for selling spuds, books, a gala auction and demolition of a building. This eventually resulted in the establishment of the present club rooms, opened in 1980.

Darfield has produced two regional grade players John Hotop (Canterbury A), and Steve Mitchell (Canterbury B). A very competitive Country Boys match has been introduced versus the Ellesmere Club. Darfield has won all four matches encountered to date with the competition being particularly keen for this, the centennial year.

Currently the club has eleven teams in competition play and about 220 players. This year a women's team is playing for the first time, a real milestone in the club's development. Junior players in all age ranges have competed since 1967 and have had more than their fair share of success. Delving into the history of rugby in the Malvern area reveals an overwhelming number of generous locals contributing with good heart to our national game. May the red and blue colours of Darfield's rugby teams represent the club's success now and in the future. You are invited to raise your glass of good cheer to the Darfield Rugby Club on their Centennial celebration.

Source: Malvern Record: 27 April 2004

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Darfield Rugby Club Centennial Celebrations by Selwyn Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License