has been added.

A New Millennium

It's got to be a good year when the North Harbour union awards you the Club of the Year Trophy, but that was Northcote in 2000.

There were several ingredients that went  together to  kick the new millennium off on such a wonderful note. Foremost  among  these was Gerard van Tilborg's acumen as finance director. Working closely with club manager, Peter Page, Gerard helped increase the club's finances by 25  per cent

New lighting on Harvey Wright Field No 1, extension of the club lounge and the creation of a president's/board lounge showed the club was moving forward positively again .

On the field, Northcote teams (assisted  by the  club's 40 sponsors) made an impact right through the grades.

Kieran Jones coached the seven-a-side team successfully ( with Glen Newman winning the inaugural Jones Cup as the most valuable sevens player), the women's team, well prepared again by Kasey Maaka, reached the championship final and had eight players win representative selection, newcomer Steve Comber guided the Restricted team through to its second successive championship title, Tom Tusitala brought the 1999 senior third finalists through to the second grade final (as the Gold team ), Graham Solomon and Ross Burgess' Gold team claimed  the senior second championship for the third year in a row and Sam Howard's third grade Maroon team reached the finals for the fifth time.

And that wasn't all. Ces Jack and Kerry Markwick shaped a young under-19 team well. They lost only two round-robin matches before exiting in the first play-off game. Gerard Heath's senior firsts won the plate final.

A young premier team, coached by Phil Heath and Rich­ard Kapa, laid the foundations for the future. They introduced Alister Beckerman from the under-19s and Lagani Kirisome from the under-21s to premier rugby and had six players selected for North Harbour Colts and Under-19s . Graham Smith was good enough to be selected for the Blues Colts squad and Maure Tovia for the Samoan Colts.

The premier team had a motto . . . out with the old and in with the young. Of course, not everyone agreed with this principle but the club was assured that not one selection was made without great care and deliberation. Coaches Heath and Kapa believe the best 15 players made the field on the day. Five of their players were selected for the North Harbour Colts.
Karl Tenana
Karl Tenana, warming up for a game in May 2000.

Inevitably, the team suffered when its star players, Marc Ellis and Karl Tenana, were away on Super 12 and sevens assignments and only when they returned did the results turn around. The turnaround wasn't good enough to get Northcote into the semifinals, however.

Ellis and Tenana were the only Northcote players to represent North Harbour in 2000 but they made their mark. Ellis scored most points and Tenana most tries.

The senior firsts reached the play-offs, eventually taking out the Plate final against Glenfield, while the Senior Second White team, coached by Phil Heath and Richard Kapa, won their competition for the third season in a row and the Restricted Grade made it two championship titles in succession. The women's teams were extremely competitive with both the senior second Gold and senior thirds making it to the finals.

The Nobras President's Grade went into business as car park renovators, 26 of them repairing and resealing the Trough car park in January. On the field, the President's men won 10 games, were awarded eight sponsorships and recruited four more and made countless friends thanks to their humble coach and manage­ment staff. Sounds a fun team to be part of?

The Family of Five again supported the junior division where membership increased 35 per cent, thanks to the innovative introduction of the 0800 MUSTER phone number and a letter drop to all schools in the region. A website was also established to keep players informed of club news and require­ments.

Cathy Jack again took on the responsible Rugby Develop­ment Officer's role, for which club members were enormously grateful. Thank you, Cathy.

Brett Bedwell, the senior A coach, reported at the annual meeting that he had a coaching and management team of 10 who had all played for Northcote down the years, a heartening achievement. He and his assistants had 51 players involved in off-season training programmes, suggesting the club's systems were working.

Robbie Hall, long-time treasurer for the juniors, finally stepped aside. It seemed he had been keeping the juniors afloat financially forever. His successor was Brad Boult. Secretary Sharon 'Shaz' Mills also pulled out.

The JBS Gold team achieved its declared goals for the sea­son. These were spelt out as follows: Develop self esteem, confidence and team work/assist in the development of player fitness / praise efforts, not results / take responsibility and own­ership of the game/have fun / be positive with referees .

Tony Brown, after many years operating at senior level, became coach of the JB8s and said it was great to be involved at that level. 'I look forward to seeing all the boys progress through the grades with excellent spirit on and off the field,' he said.

The final word on the 2000 season came from treasurer Gerard van Tilborg: ' My role as treasurer is to support the board but my personal wish, which I hope is compatible with members' thinking, is to get the building to a cash neutral stage so that the club has the capacity to direct more financial resources towards rugby. This has to be done sensibly, with the objective of not only continuing to win titles but to be come the best senior club in North Harbour.'

Reece Searle
Lock, Reece Searle rises high to secure lineout possession for the Northcote seniors against East Coast Bays, 2001.

The 2001 season saw the introduction of the $2 shuttle bus, organised in conjunction with the RSA and the Birkenhead Transport Company. This was a constructive move . With the drink driving regulations that now exist this is the only way members can enjoy the club, socially, as they have for decades past.

Future committees need to make this system work and establish Northcote rugby as the focal point for entertainment in the district. Police activity on drink driving will only intensify, so the club is fortunate to retain such a strong affiliation with the bus company.

Upgrading of the bars commenced in 2000. The $100 draw extended from one night to both Fridays and Saturdays.

The premier team launched into pre-season training at the SAS camp at Hobsonville, dabbling in gym circuit training , mud runs and lateral thinking involving squats and pole races. Hold the pole vertical and get a member to the top of it be­fore launching into countless press-ups and chin-ups.

Rugby committee chairman Dave Newman had an impres­sive cluster of coaches to work with. Brett Bedwell and Paul Carlton, talented players who shared in Northcote's champi­onship triumphs in 1989-90, headed the list, supported by Tony Brown and Craig Burgess. Team management was in the hands of Brett Norris assisted by Bruce Menzies, Steve Greenslade, John Mills, Paul Mathieson and Steve Thompson.

Peter and Bruce Blackett offered to sponsor  the  under-19s to the tune of $5000 . This is the spirit of Northcote. Bruce joined the club in the 1960s and Peter was a prominent junior from around that time, going on to become an effective player­ coach, not withstanding an arm injury suffered in a car accident. Bruce's history as an administrator and as president for North Harbour is well documented.

In July, chairman Paul Liddington wrote in the Cotes News of how the North Shore clubs were stakeholders in the union, but it would appear the union did not quite see it that way. The union was not progressing in the direction the clubs wanted it to and was making major policy decisions without consultation. Oh, how history repeats itself in rugby adminis­tration! Player retention was becoming an issue and the North Harbour union was doing little about it .

Club stalwart, big Don Arblaster, a past president and club captain, followed his father Don and uncle Chum in gaining life membership.

Len Lanigan, one of the  club's oldest  identities  and  all­ time best supporter, celebrated 60 years  of marriage.  Len, in his eighties, still follows the premier team when it plays at home. A former Mayor of Birkenhead and councilor (for 18 years ), he was presented in 1975 with the Queens Medal for community service.

Len Lanigan Awarded
Len Lanigan proudly wears his Northcote Birkenhead Rugby Club cap after the presentation by North Shore Mayor George Wood , a former club player.
Don Arblaster
Don Arblaster jnr, following a proud family tradition.

Andrew Mailei - the premier team's player of the year - was selected for the Tongan national team. Andrew's father Koko was the toast of Eden Park in the 1974-76 era and would have been enormously proud of his talented son.

A development tour for the under-19s and under-21s was floated as a means of creating a 'bank' of 40 emerging players. The talent available in this age bracket was in evidence again when Ces Jack and Kerry Markwick's under-19 team  took out the championship. They won 15 of their 18 matches and scored 801 points while conceding only 75, a mighty effort . The  team won the Bill Cooper Defence Cup for the least number of points against (on average).

Ces Jack wrote: 'Thank you to  the under-19  Gold team for their guard of honour when we returned to the club after the final.' He thanked Rex Wheels and Castors and his other dozen team sponsors.

The team's heroics resulted in Peter Agavale, Te Karli Bruce, Gus Buchanan, Zahn Buchanan, Simon  Collins,  Cameron Good, Donald Henry, Kenny Jack, Eddie  Kelsey,  Chris Mor­ris and Nick Williams all making the North Harbour under-19 rep team. Simon Hanlon and  Kenny Jack made the Northern Re­gion trials for the New Zealand under-19 team.

Andrew Mailei 2001
The player in possession is Andrew Mailei, Northcote's Player of the Year in 2001. He also won selection in the Tongan national team.

The JB8 Gold team won the North Harbour Sportsman ship Trophy as well as 14 of its 18 matches. This was an excellent effort for their coach Richard Massey and manager Bruce Arnold .

Karl Tenana, who was the New Zealand sevens Player of the Year, was Northcote's only North Harbour representative in 2001.

There were major change s at the top in 2002 with both chairman / director Paul Liddington and secretary-manager Peter Page resigning.

Gerard van Tilborg was appointed chairman, while also continuing as treasurer, with David Stoddard initially filling in as club captain on a contractual basis until the full-time appointment of Scott Rinkin was confirmed .

Paul Liddington had made a huge contribution to the club over the years, at both junior and senior level, as had Peter Page. They were both sorely missed .

Brad Boult, under whose astute chairmanship the junior section continued to flourish, was co-opted on to the board of directors, replacing Paul Liddington.

Scott Rinkin's involvement produced significant develop­ments. The city council was pressured to open the grounds in summer for the first time in seven years, resulting in a resur­gence of summer touch. The involvement of family teams and men's 35-plus teams saw the restaurant re-open on Wednes­day and Friday evenings.

Gerard van Tilborg stressed that finance remained a vital issue. Funds raised had been spent on capital expenditure and the club had increased its term debt to $50,000. It had been hoped to reduce this to $30,000 but funds were spent on lighting and security improvements, following two burglaries. Two players ( Daniel Moore and Nick Williams ) also received assistance after being selected in the  New Zealand Youth team to tour Canada and the UK.

It is worth recalling here that life member and former president Duncan Taylor remembers how in the late 1940s a club member voted against a motion to approve purchase of £17 ($ 34 ) worth of paint to smarten up the Tin Shed. The member could not visualise the need for this 'huge' expenditure. How would he have dealt with the present-day $50,000 term loan!

The loan, bearing an interest rate of 8.25 per cent, is scheduled to be repaid by December 2004 .

If $34 seemed a lot for paint in the 1940s, how about the $13,000 that was being set aside for the purchase in 2003 of a new scrummaging machine!

Brett Bedwell's premiers qualified for the top six for the second year in a row but injuries and the unavailability of several players brought a disappointing conclusion to the season. On the positive side, a number of young players made their senior debuts.

Two individuals who made a massive contribution were Ray Maddix, consistently the best player at an age when many are contemplating retirement, and Graham Smith, who accu­mulated 161 points. Both were selected for the North Harbour second XV, Graham also making the Harbour rep training squad.

The highlight was the historic achievement of the under- 21s in winning the championship, having triumphed the season previous in the under-19 grade.

Coaches Ces Jack and Kerry Markwick did a marvellous job, with Cathy Jack involved as team mum, water carrier and fixer-upper. Trish, the team masseuse, and Brady Arblaster, the physio, were others who contributed mightily to the success.

Ces Jack went on to win the club Coach of the Year award as well as a nomination for the Sport North Harbour awards. Sponsorship was provided by Rex Wheels and Castors, courtesy of Peter and Bruce Blackett. Others who got in behind the team were Ian Selwyn (warm-up shirts), Sally and Stewart Shirkie (player of the month awards), Stu Moorcroft (player of the day awards) and Barry Gaylard (tackler of the day awards).

From this champion side, Nick Williams, Chris Morris and Kenny Jack were selected for North Harbour Colts, Te Kani Bruce, Richard Chapman, Willie Nutimeki, Josh Bullen and Kenny Jack made the Harbour under-19 team and Zhan Buchanan, Te Kani Bruce and Kenny Jack were chosen for the North Harbour Maori Colts.

2002 U21
The under-21 team of 2002, winners of the North Harbour championship.
Bak row: Chris Morris, Jamie McDonald, Ed Kelsey, Jason Alexander, Nick Williams, Willie Nutimelii, Jeremy Markwick.
Third row: Robbie Hall (assistant), Siosaia Fonuafoou, Alistair Beclzermann, Richard Chapman, Inolle Muna, James Te Whata, Malcolm Sword, Bill Hensen.
Second row: Trish Marllivick (masseuse), Jamie Bull, Dwayne Williams, John Chesney (president ), Brad Robinson, Andre Williams, Gerard van Tilborg (chairman).
Front row: Barry Gaylard (asst manager), Te Kani Bruce, Ces Jacli (coach), Peter Agavale (vice captain), Kenny Jack (captain), Josh Bullen, Kerry Markwick (asst coach), Stewart Shirllie, Cathie Jack (manager)

George Avia's Senior Seconds won their fourth champion­ ship in five years, accumulating 743 points and conceding 49 (which included just one try), an average winning score of 37-2. They completed the season undefeated, winning 19 and drawing one of their 20 games, a magnificent effort.

The President's Grade team enjoyed a successful season, winning 13 of its 17 matches, with one drawn. It ran in 61 tries, 42 of which were converted . An end-of-season trip to Hamilton was a highlight and 32 players went off to Rarotonga in October to commence pre-season training for 2003. Well, that was why they said they were going!

Andrew Mailei and Ephram Taukafu were selected for the Tongan national side.

Northcote could not get a women's team together, nor could Glenfield ... until Cathy Jack got busy, that is. Eventually, the Glencote Cats were born under coaches Eru Wikiriwhi and Ruapa Panapa with Willie Louie marshalling the Glenfield girls. And still with the girls, Tali Suanui, Tima Lasike, Jayne Paki and Jackie Fung all made the North Harbour team.

Brad Boult graduated after four years as juniors team manager to juniors chairman . In his report for the year he wrote, 'It is impossible to have a strong club without supporters. Northcote Birkenhead is developing a reputation for sportsmanship and fair play on and off the field . It has been a source of great pride for us to receive compliments from other clubs within the union.'

The Family of Five were still supporting the juniors. In 2002 they were F. and R. Maloney, Hayden and Rollett, Bertley Propellers, Northcote Tavern and the club's President's Grade team.

Northcote Birkenhead was the only Harbour club to re­ port increased numbers of juniors in 2002, 16 teams up from 13. All the boys could be seen wearing their new junior club sweaters with pride.

Aussie teams visited from Sylvania in Sydney and Kenmore in Brisbane to play the J2s, both matches being won by Northcote.

Anthony Marks
Halfback, Anthony Marks clears the ball in a 2002 senior competition game against Massey.
Peter Sangster - Willing Hands Trophy
Peter Sangster, Maroon and Gold Award and perennial winner of the Willing Hands Trophy.
Nicolas Costa and brothers
Nicolas Costa, who scored over a hundred tries for the ]6 team , joined by brothers, Rodrigo and Ignacio, 2003.

The  JSs, coached by Paul Colquhoun and Terry Brown and managed by Colin Young, claimed the first junior tourna­ment for the club since 1978. They deserved to be called champions. Sue Cox-Smith was mum to all and proved a champion compiler of the team report.

Ces Jack continued on his winning way as a coach in 2003, his under-21s repeating their mighty effort of the previous season by claiming the North Harbour championship again. For Ces, it completed a remarkable hat-trick of successes, fol­lowing on from the under-19s conquest in 2001.

Ces indicated he was keen for higher honours but the club, in its wisdom, decided to retain the status quo for 2004, advising Ces his time would come.

Moves were set in place to establish a coaching and management development programme for the club.

Towards this end, Ian Selwyn was appointed by the board to co-ordinate the under-19 and under-21 grades for 2004 . Working with David Mayhew, Brad Bault and David Newman, and others, he began  formulating a plan for  the  development of coaching and management skills. The group was working well with the Auckland Institute of Technology, big efforts in that direction coming from Graeme Hayhow and Brad .

The club's relationship with AIT blossomed. For the first time , AIT Northcote entered the national universities tournament, where it reached the final. Five club players enjoyed AIT scholarships with a further five promised for 2004 .

The board recommended that, from 2004 , its numbers be expanded to include the club captain and the chairman of jun­ior rugby.

Gerard van Tilborg continued in his dual roles as chairman and treasurer, inevitably declaring this to be unsustainable and at the AGM in November, Craig Ellmers agreed to take over as treasurer .

The chairman made an appeal at the annual meeting for 'people power' . He said there was ample opportunity avail­able for workers in all areas of club management, coaching and administration. The board room and board meetings were always open to members during Gerard's chairmanship.

One of Northcote Birkenhead's foundation members, 87- year-old Len Lanigan, was elected as the inaugural Maroon and Gold award member. A commemorative cap, befitting the occasion, was presented to him by club old boy, the Mayor of North Shore, George Wood. Len used to be his coach.

Northcote Birkenhead 's oldest surviving player has come to light. He is 91-year­ old John Burrows , who played in the championship­ winning seventh grade team of 1930.

John, a resident of a Glenfield rest home, was born in St Helens, England and emigrated to New Zealand in 1920. After settling in Northcote, he tried soccer and league before joining the Northcote Rugby Club in 1930, teaming up with Frank Fielder in the seventh grade team that was coached by Alec Grant. He and Frank Fielder are both still hale and hearty and are looking forward to participating in the 75th jubilee celebrations.

The premiers made it to the semifinals in 2003 before be­ing eliminated. Their steady progress under Brett Bedwell, however, augured well for the 75th jubilee year in 2004.

Three members of Bedwell's team won selection for North Harbour, Andrew Mailei, Dan Parkinson and Karl Tenana .

Major sponsors for the year were Hometune (Andrew Kerslake and Graeme Lee), Rex Wheels and Castors (Bruce and Peter Blackett ), Haydn and Rollett Construction (John Waldermoth ), Northcote Tavern ( Bill and Kim Milne ), Glenfield Tavern ( Lee Maihi ), Easy Factors (Gerard van Tilborg), Lions Breweries and, very significantly, the Presi­dent's Grade team.

Not only do the President's Grade members keep on keep­ing on at rugby, they generously support the club financially, provide referees for junior rugby plus social and friendly matches and are the backbone of most club working bees.

Although the club had a good season, it was disappointing that once again an under-19 team could not be fielded . Hopefully, Ian Selwyn's appointment will rectify this concern.

Dave Luteru and Mark Chadwick
Halfback Dave Luteru delivers possession to his backline against Glenfield in 2004.
Ivan Stowers
Midfielder Ivan Stowers attacks against Glenfield in 2004.
Stephen Wolfgramm
No.8 Stephen Wolfgramm wearing the jubilee jersey, 2004.

The juniors continued to achieve, none more so than the J6 team, coached by Craig Patterson. They amassed a staggering 956 points helped in no small measure by the incredible 109 tries scored by their star player, Argentinian Nico las Costa. Four boys were selected from the junior ranks for North Harbour representation, including B.J. Tuala who made the Roller Mills squad.

Paul Colquhoun and Colin Young picked up another title with the J4 rep team, to complete a great season.

Altogether, the club fielded 14 junior teams, representing some 240 boys. There was significant growth in the number of first-year players an encouraging trend.

Junior teams are planning to visit Australia in 2004 and 2005 and have their fundraising schemes under way.

The North Harbour union recognised the work of Lester Dallow, who had provided over 16 years service to  juniors in the club, including five years as JAB delegate . He was awarded the Junior Board Cup for his services. Lester's contribution typifies the Northcote spirit of dedication to the club and rugby community . This is the first occasion a junior administrator from Northcote Birkenhead has been so recognised. Lester has been congratulated and awarded Maroon and Gold mem­bership status.

It is timely to record here other individuals who have made significant contributions to junior rugby at the club, notably Alex McLeod (a past president who was a coach and manager from 1945 to 1953 ), Roy Moorcroft and Ray Malone (a totally dedicated pair in the early 1960s) and Fred Sargent (12 years the junior boys secretary as well as a coach and manager from the 1960s into the 1970s).

Keith Weber, the junior boys chairman for nine years dur­ing Fred's time, recalls his total and methodical commitment to the juniors. 'Fred never let a ball go by and kept coaches like Ron Roderick, Harvey Wright, Wally Hoani, Maurice Hartley and Glyn Parry well in line. His minute book was almost copper plate with everything so well documented. He made my job easy.'

Like many before him and since, Fred regarded what he did as a commitment to the game and to the kids. He did his job well, like Lester Dallow. Sadly, he died in 2004, just a few months before the 75th jubilee celebrations. (The Anglican Church in Birkenhead and the surrounding grounds and par­ish hall were full for his funeral service. The service lasted 90 minutes. His family spoke of the significance the Northcote Rugby Club held in his life. Outside the church was a strong line of Northcote maroon blazers , each with the word life member on them, worn by Harvey Wright, Bruce Blackett, Frank Fielder, Tracy Watson and Bruce Robertson).

The 2003 accounts were  disappointing, with  a loss of $44,000 recorded, after depreciation. The accounts showed total debt had increased to $32,557 over the year.

The ASB came through with $18,400 towards the flood­ lights for the field. This had been withheld by red tape and meant a delay in the receipt of the funds by 18 months. The debt would have been reduced to $14,157 had the ASB money come through before balance date.

Members need to consider the future. They will need to revert to stronger fundraising efforts, attract more sponsorships and be more innovative with their support so that the club will remain at a level members expect. The members of the past have worked hard to get the club to where it is after 75 years. Current members will want it to remain that way.

Under the new constitution, the end of the 2003 seas on saw John Chesney stand aside as president, having completed his five-year term. He did so wishing everyone well for the coming season, signing off with his customary Kia Kaba Katoa. His farewell comment recognises the Maori language and, behind it, the number of Maori who have been involved in the club over the more than seven decades. No doubt, they will continue to bring strength, flair and humour to the club .

John Chesney couldn't have put it more appropriately with his sign-off words, Kia Kaba Katoa ... Be strong all, be totally strong, everyone keep strong.

Many celebratory events have taken place during 2004, all building up towards the August anniversary of the club's founding . The most recent - just days before this book went to print at the end of July - was the Golden Oldies tournament played in beautiful sunshine at the club's Birkenhead grounds.

P was the theme of the day - no, not the hallucinogenic drug that has become such a social issue. The Golden Oldies' P referred to Pacific oysters, cheap port and pickled onions that all participants were obliged to consume beforehand to ensure they all started the event with the same handicap.

Twelve teams competed: Hikurangi Pioneers, Whangarei Old Boys Froth, Mahurangi Mussels, Massey Maulers, Marist Bluebellies, North Shore Dad's Army, Ponsonby Puritans, Rewa Relics ( Manurewa), Northcote Cotehangas, Northcote Nobras, Glenfield Grizzlies and Takapuna Turtles competed. The oldest player was a 71-year-old from Hikurangi, John Newman, who sported a mean earring and a pierced eyebrow. Not far behind was 67-year-old Alf Tupu from the Ponsonby club , who just happens to live in Northcote.

Northcote fielded two immaculately turned-out teams, all the ex-senior players featuring in the Cotehangas line-up with all the other fine, aged gentleman starring for the Nobras.

2004 Nobras
The Northcote Nobras of 2004.
Back row : Gary Loughlen, Red Kirkpatrick, Ross Burgess, Matt McConagh, Chris Perrett, Robbie Stowers, Reg Maddix, Dave Hampton, Taff Wikaira, Frank Rewiri, Dave Medden, Brad Boult , Tom Donald, Tony Irwin, Terry Seymour.
Front row: Tame Dickison, Ray Maddix, Danny Kenny, Greg Dow, Paul Rahu, John Wildemoth, Tom Hall, Steve Goodman, Tony Sherrock.
2004 Northcote Cotehangas
The Northcote Cotehangas of 2004.
Back row: George Avia, Brett Noris, Paul (PC) Carlton, Graeme McK an, Paul Matherson, Dave Mayhew, Carl Perrett, Tony Brown, Simon Williamson, Paul Robertson.
Front row: Brett Craies, Nick Trimble, Craig Burgess, Tony Tilby, Steve Thompson, Glen Menzies.
(Absent is Scott Rinkin, who, we are told, was still cleaning the toilet.)