McEvedy Shield 'hijacked' by big four

BY JONATHAN MILLMOW
Last updated 05:00 27/08/2009

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Scots College has been denied entry into the annual McEvedy Shield, and the granddaughter of the man the track and field competition is named after is furious.

Jill Wills says when her grandfather Patrick McEvedy donated the shield in 1922 he never intended it to be a closed shop for four colleges - Rongotai, Wellington, St Pat's Town and St Pat's Silverstream.

Three weeks ago, representatives from those four colleges made a joint decision to turn down Scots' formal application, for logistical reasons.

They felt a fifth school would disrupt the flow of the day, in particular the 100m, 200m, 400m and 110m hurdles which operate under a system of two runners from each school spread over eight lanes.

Scots College headmaster Graeme Yule took the setback on the chin but Wills is upset because she believes her grandfather would be aghast.

"The McEvedy Shield has been hijacked by four schools and the shield wasn't given with this intention at all," Wills said. "My brother is just as grumpy as I am. We are quite cross because it was never intended to be this way.

"I do understand things come and go but Scots wants to come back in. This four schools and eight lanes situation is awful."

Scots has several strong middle-distance runners and Yule is adamant the school, which has a secondary role of 482, would not be embarrassed on the McEvedy Shield scoreboard. "We don't think we are going to win it, we just believe we would be competitive and we would contribute to it," he said.

"We haven't been part of it for the last 20 odd years but we were involved in it for a significant number of years prior to that and we believe it is there for the promotion of athletics.

"We obviously pulled out when we weren't competitive.

"We are well aware four is a nice number when you have eight lanes and five schools is a problem, but it really only affects a few of the track events.

"I thought they could have heats but they weren't prepared to change the format of the day and my response was, `you don't really want us here otherwise you would be prepared to work with us'."

Wellington and St Pat's Town are the only schools that remain from the original competition in 1922, with Rongotai being added in the late 1920s and St Pat's Silverstream in 1931.

Others have come and gone, including Hutt Valley High School, Wairarapa High School and Scots. Since the early 1980s it was has been the four traditional boys' schools.

Yule has ruled out challenging the decision made by a mix of the principals and sports leaders.

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"It is not my style and not Scots' style to challenge legally," Yule said.

"That is where we sit. We took our ball and went home a few years ago [around 1980] so it would be fairly petulant to say, `you must' [reinstate us]."

St Pat's Town deputy principal Wayne Mills was one of those to rule against Scots but said there was plenty of sympathy for them.

"It is a logistical thing - philosophically we aren't opposed to it," Mills said. "You are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. You can't run heats and finals -  it is too hard on the athletes and would stretch the programme out."

Mills said other considerations were the amount of seating space at Newtown Park and getting the athletics programme completed so buses could get pupils back to school at an acceptable time.

College Sport Wellington chief executive John Hornal is keeping his nose out of the drama, but said he had recommended to Scots that they set up an alternative four-schools competition with the likes of Hutt International Boys.

- The Dominion Post

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