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Max Dick

Max Dick recalls playing in the forties

I joined the club in 1934 when I was eight. I was the youngest in that particularly junior boys team.

In the forties when we played at Stafford Park the teams that played first had to mark out the ground and put up the goalposts. Those who played the last game had to take the goalposts down, gather the ground flags and return them to what was called the annex, a lean-to by the shed.

We travelled across to Auckland and back on ferries a lot in the days before the Harbour Bridge. On ferry trips, everyone hung around the funnel to keep themselves warm. When we could afford them, we would eat fish and chips, huddled around the funnel. It was great fun.

Games in Auckland meant a tram trip after the ferry ride, then a walk to the Domain. We'd have a cold shower after the game and then rush back to the ferry to huddle around the funnel for warmth.

During the war years, in the 1943-45 period, Victoria Park was taken over by the American Forces as a military camp, which left us short of grounds for rugby. One makeshift ground we had to use was in Kepa Road, Orakei, where we had to remove the sheep before we could play. The ground had a hump in the middle and standing on your own 25, you could only see the tops of the goalposts at the other end!

Tents and equipment used by the Americans at Victoria Park were demolished late in 1945 but, before they left, they buried everything in sight. In subsequent years many players were cut by razor blades when the surface broke up during the winter months.

Fundraising was hard work and the most successful way was through bottle drives. I remember being at the Tin Shed one training night when Allan Martin lit the boiler and it blew back at him. I went to see what had happened; there stood Allan, soot all over him, looking like a Black and White Minstrel. His language was less than perfect!

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