Over 90 current and former VUWAFC players gathered at the KP clubrooms last Saturday night to celebrate the club’s 75th anniversary.
The events started in the afternoon with a mini-bus of stalwarts heading out to Fraser Park to support the men’s first team in their one-all draw against Naenae; they turned up back at the clubrooms after a number of beers singing ‘Carefree’ as they climbed the stairs. Food on the night came courtesy of The Chippery, with a special appearance of Steve ‘Postie’ Carlin’s famous chilli con carne. The Fortune Favours were eagerly consumed throughout the night.
The semi-formal part of the night came with speeches from Club Captain Matt Lamb, his predecessor Si Davies and myself as we launched the club history – Carefree – that will published on our website in the next couple of weeks. Current NZFA Vice-President and 1980s Vic player Phil Barry started off the reflections from former players. He was followed by Barbara Hansen, one of the original women’s club players from the late-1970s, Bevan Clement and the indomitable Eddie Taylor. Eddie’s story about the club playing the crew of a Soviet freighter in 1979 reiterated just how much the club has been involved in the turning points of history, given almost exactly ten years later the Berlin Wall fell.
Steve Watters then introduced our newest life member – Mr Uni Bomber himself Gyles Beckford. Gyles had a right of reply where he reflected on his over 40 year history with the club, and which brought a standing ovation from the crowd. All of the speakers were clear about how VUWAFC is about more than just football. They all noted the life-long friendships that have come from playing here. Watching the event I noticed how happy many of the former players were to see their team-mates, some they had not seen in decades. Old stories were swapped, absent friends remembered and complaints about referee-calls and close loses abounded.
The rest of the formal part of the evening was Eddie cutting a gorgeous chocolate cake and the unveiling of the new Accies VUWAFC Honours Board; which records much of our history, including a long list of NZ Universities representatives, club captains, secretaries and teams of the year. There is still plenty of room for new stories. Thanks to the Accies for donating to achieve our long dream of recording a little part of our history in the clubrooms.
As the evening wore on, the party got louder, stories longer and more unbelievable, and multiple renditions of Carefree cut through the night. But all of the former players noted that with satisfaction how the club was still going strong, with a new generation of players and committee members coming through. Many were keen for events like this to become an annual event and some even threatened to put on their boots for an old-timers game!
Thanks to Matt, Si, Nicole, Izzy and the rest of the committee for all the effort in putting this event together. It was a fantastic way to cap our 75th anniversary. We all had a great time and learnt a lot…in my case that included not accepting gin shots from Gary ‘Gaz’ Hewson as a replacement for when the bar runs out of tequila!
Written By: Craig Harris