Replica rugby shelter honours Boys' High icon

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 12:00 22/05/2014
Stand
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

UNDERCOVER: Rolf Leenards, in the black coat, is the creator of the Errol Brookie Memorial Grandstand.

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At Palmerston North Boys' High School on Saturday, College House boys will be running soup, tea and coffee to some of the school's senior citizens.

They will be seated for the official opening of the EW Brookie Shelter, before the Boys' High first XV's opening Super 8 clash with Gisborne Boys' High School.

The shelter is a replica of the main grandstand at the North St ground and was built by old boy and board member Rolf Leenards.

It has been named after long-time senior master and school legend Errol Brookie who was head boy in 1948, came back as a teacher until 1990 and died in 2012 aged 82. He was the teacher in charge of rugby for 25 years and the second XV coach for 19 years.

The shelter will provide seating for "members", most of them former teachers of the over-65 vintage.

School rector David Bovey said Brookie and his friends always stood at the Northern Bowling Club end of the ground, in the western corner so they could evade the footballs as they were kicked over the goalposts.

"They thought it would be nice to have a shelter of some sort," Bovey said.

It has been touted as a Last of the Summer Wine project, based on the TV series about a trio of older men and their antics. Bovey said Boys' High liked to recognise the contributions of their old boys.

There are plaques commemorating Brookie and and renowned late teacher and rugby coach Ian Colquhoun on the path between College House and the school.

At one stage, moving the main stand was contemplated because it is offset to the main field. But Leenards felt the oldest structure at the school wouldn't survive a shift, even if all the seating and steel posts have been replaced and it has been earthquake-proofed.

So he copied every facet of the old stand in making the replica.

"We talked about it and I said, ‘you find the materials and I'll build it for you'."

It is mounted on sleds so it can be moved and has room for about a dozen inhabitants.

The main grandstand is one of the few buildings not built by the school. It was part of the North Street Park when used as a soccer ground.

The school took it over in 1967 when the area was changed to a rugby field. It has been there since about 1927 and was built by the Young family. It wasn't moved when the rugby field was shifted to accommodate College House.

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- Manawatu Standard

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