Petone Rugby League marks its 100th year

NICHOLAS BOYACK
Last updated 15:24 16/04/2012
Petone 100th
DEAN PEMBERTON
Hard hit: Former Kiwi prop Peter Mellars showed he has not lost his speed.
Petone 100th
DEAN PEMBERTON
Big boy: Lewis Gibson tackles Tiare Akavi.
Petone 100th
DEAN PEMBERTON
Coming through: Jim Avia tries to stop Rueben Namana. Looking on are Malcolm Lewis and Eugene Grant.
Petone 100th
DEAN PEMBERTON
Last gasp: Rueben Namana makes a break despite the effort of Jima Avia.
Petone 100th
DEAN PEMBERTON
On the prowl: Proud Panthers Kevin Tamati and Pat Edwards.
Petone 100th
DEAN PEMBERTON
Still roaring: Vern Winitana stood out in a match featuring past and present players, celebrating the Petone Rugby League Club’s 100th birthday. Winitana scored the game winning try for the Panthers in the 1982 National Wrangler Cup final against Randwick. Tackling him are Mike Orbell and Jaykeob Toman.
Petone 100th
Welcoming visitors: Life member Eddie Elliot performs the powhiri.

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The name Thomas William ''Angry'' Cross was long forgotten but recently resurfaced thanks to Petone Rugby League Club.

The Petone Panthers celebrated their centenary in style over Easter with plenty of big name players and administrators putting in an appearance.

League historian Bernie Wood put together a publication which featured a section on a Petone Team of the Century, which included second-rower Angry Cross.

A former All Black, Angry was a member of the 1907-08 All Golds that toured Great Britain. On February 15, 1908, Angry made rugby league history when he was given his marching orders in the third test for punching  thus becoming the very first Kiwi to be sent off.

Spokeswoman Wendy Hynes says about 300 people attended the various celebrations and it was a huge success.

"It was stunning  people talked about how they had not caught up with [others] for 20 years. People came from all over Australia and New Zealand and said they'd had the time of their lives and they would be 'Panthers for ever....the feedback was fantastic.''

The Team of the Century also included flying winger Mark Brandon, who travelled from Australia for the event. Brandon, who in 1982 scored an incredible 39 tries, was one of many who sent organisers a warm letter of thanks.

''The weekend you guys made possible defined perfection. It seemed to run like clockwork so to all of the team, my unconditional gratitude.

" I'm so proud to have been part of it, a Panther for life.''

Not surprisingly, Wood's Player of the Century was legendary hard man Kevin Tamati, who no doubt enjoyed reading about Angry.

Like many Panthers, Tamati's link to the club came through working for Gear Meat. He had never played rugby before shifting to Petone from Hastings, and only  tried league after a rugby mate forgot to pick him up to take him to training.

Other well known identities in attendance included Vern Winitana, Anthony Farmer, Paul Howell, Nolan Tupaea, Mike Edmonds and Peter Mellars.

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In naming his Team of the Century, Wood had 17 Kiwis to choose from and they predictably dominated his picks: Albert House, Mark Brandon, Roy Siddells, Edmund (Hone) Tyne, Roy Proebstel, Nolan Tupaea, James Barber, Hercules (Bumper) Wright, John Hona, Kevin Tamati, Thomas William (Angry) Cross, Con Bryne and Chappy Pine.

- Hutt News

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