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Maurice Mutton was a deceptively quick five-eighth and an effective one. He would take the pass from Vince Paltridge, cradle it to his chest and seemingly amble ahead with a roll of the shoulders. The opposition would be sent sprawling as he penetrated them. But because he looked slow he was never selected for representative honours.
Ray Bilkie of Grammar always got the nod. He looked smart, but whenever Northcote played Grammar, jolly old 'Mutt' would knock spots off Bilkie. I wish Vince, Don and Charlie could be here to verify my thoughts because they and other members of our crack team had tried to catch Maurice Mutton, only to find themselves left behind.
Maurice and I played lots of tennis together. And whenever I was taking a conversion, it was Maurice who held the ball, as you did in those days. I remember bawling my eyes out when I learned that Maurice was lost during the war. Another who didn't return was a great forward in our team, the only redhead, Bob Johnstone.
I remember the terry boat days. The Devonport Ferry Company had complained to our club, objecting to the young lads jumping off the ferry en masse as it was docking on the town side. Apparently it created consternation for the mate tying the ferry up.
Our next game was at the Domain. Ticker Wightson and I laid down the law. Anyone jumping off the ferry wouldn't be allowed to play, and we meant it. So Saturday, Ticker and I were on the top deck with some of the team and as we approached the town wharf there, sure enough, were three or four of the most persistent bandits in the team paused on the rail of the lower deck ready to jump.
One of them glanced up and saw four eagle eyes peering at them. To our relief, because they were good footballers, they got down and came upstairs and walked down the gang-plank with the rest of the passengers, like gentlemen. From then on, we were a team and good fellowship prevailed.
One game we wanted to win was against North Shore, a bunch of tough lads, mostly all naval trained. When they hit you, you usually stayed down. Well, we beat them, with Jim Bashford diving fully 20 feet for a remarkable try.
After scoring, he began screaming and I can see the referee still, pointing to Jim who was obviously in serious trouble. Jim was tough and never complained. But it transpired that in sliding over for the try, he got tangled with the fullback's boot, which scraped down his side. The boot forced the skin off Jim's lower abdomen and tangled it with the webbing of his jockstrap. I helped the referee as we peeled the jock strap free from Jim's belly. Poor Jim!
When it was decided to add a top floor to the club rooms, I was delegated the job of procuring the timber. Being a builder, I made the joinery for the job and headed the carpentry team, along with Charlie Arblaster.
Vince Paltridge's wife Dawn Clements had a father who owned a timber mill at Ngunguru, north of Whangarei. I hired a car and took Charlie and Vince up to Ngunguru to arrange for the timber supply. On the way home, it was Charlie Arblaster's turn to drive. The road was fairly narrow then, and loose-metalled. I was in front with Charlie, Vince in the back, and a ding-dong argument was going on between Charlie and Vince. We approached a monster S-bend which Charlie misjudged. The car plunged off the road, leaving us covered in manuka and gorse.
Nonplussed, Charlie, who had not stopped talking throughout the mishap, changed gear, revved up and nonchalantly drove on through the heavy scrub. Still arguing, he motored up the other side of the valley and then, with a bump and a wallop, we were suddenly on the road again. 'What's wrong with you bastards?' said Charlie.