Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thames (NZ): Sporting Greats - 1920 Rugby Peace Cup

Over the decades there have been times when Thames Sporting teams and individuals have matched with the best. If you have one to share, please let me know.

One such moment was when the Thames Rugby team won the Peace Cup off Hamilton in 1920. There were 1500 people at Steele Park in Hamilton to witness Thames (dressed in their blue and black colours) defeat Hamilton 11 points to 8.

There is a full match report in the Thames Star 20 September 1920. The report detailed how Winder,  who was playing for Thames injured his arm but went back on - luckily he did as he marked and kicked the winning goal!.

The Thames team were: G Buchan, Winder, Jamieson, Prussing, Burrett, Garry (replaced by Fleming), Alexander, Smith, Strange, Brownlee, Wilton, Stewart, Lomas and Blackie.
(Positions on right)

Moments like this were not quickly forgotten. In 1976, Cliff Barker of Thames remembered the great day and the wonderful years of football that followed. (Thames Star 29 June 1976)

“Mr Barker recalled some of his experiences as a team member at his recent ninetieth birthday celebrations. He joined the team for its second Peace Cup game, the game after Thames won the cup from Hamilton in the first successful challenge for it. Even though he didn’t play…Mr Barker remembers what happened…Hamilton was under hard pressure from Thames when suddenly a Hamilton forward managed to grab the ball and relieve the attack by kicking for the line.  No Thames player was there, except…J Winder was on the sideline having his injured leg rubbed by a medical attendant.  And then…"Winder thrust the medical chappie aside…and at the same moment got a nod from the referee as he rushed on to the field and joined the play.  He took up a bouncing ball and with masterly precision thumped a dropkick dead-centre between the posts.” Thames had won its first Peace Cup.

Cliff then joined the side aged 36. And they had more wins. His captain was “Circus Hayward, who was 38, known as the granddad of the team. They travelled to Auckland on the Wakatere, which was an adventure in itself. In one game Mickie Lomas scored three tries – the team formed a circle around Lomas and sang, “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow.”
The reporter asked Cliff how the team practised? He replied, “Quite a few of us were fishermen, working three and four days away from Thames…To the best of my memory you went for a gallop around the streets when you could, but I can never remember having group training sessions…You were picked for the reps, and the rest was up to you.”

Cliff Barker's son Doug, had a cartoon published with the article and in later years others concerning the Peace Cup also appeared in the local paper. For many long years it was always the dream to bring the cup back to Thames.
A cartoon depicting Winder making the winning kick to claim the Peace Cup in 1920
By D Barker, Thames

1970s cartoon that appeared in The Thames Star
By D Barker, Thames
In the Thames Star 10 September 1928 there was a photo of the 1922 team that won the Peace Cup
Back Row L to R: W Pollock, M Phillips, J Winder, C Abraham, G Pollock, A O'Hara, L Stewart, G Buchan (line umpire).
Middle Row L to R: J Benney, J Pratt, R Smith, R Rhodes (chairman Thames Rigby Union), M Hayward (Capt.), A Lomas, A Winder.
Front Row L to R: A Morrissey, H Donnelly, L McRae, Hayward (Mascot), A McCollum, G Buchanan.

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