Rugby mad

Last updated 05:00 09/02/2014

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When Trevor Marfell started playing rugby in the mid 1940s, he had to ride his pony from the Clover Flats farm at Seaview to Seddon for training and club matches.

Rugby players have it easy these days with their carpeted clubrooms and hot and cold showers, he would tell Awatere Rugby Football Club club members in latter years.

A stalwart of the club, the 86-year-old died in October.

In his teens, Awatere players had only a draughty shed to change in and a single, cold-water tap to wash mud off after games.

Updated changing areas might be making young players soft, but Trevor's loyalty to the club never ceased. His commitment, and those of fellow long-term club identity David Dick, 71, who died in December, need to be remembered, say Awatere club committee members James Jermyn, David Hammond, , Susan Pope and Terry Renner.

Trevor played his way up the grades to senior Awatere club level and represented Marlborough a few times. After breaking his leg in 1958, however, he put his boots away and turned his attention to coaching and administration duties.

He was the Awatere senior coach in 1963-65, treasurer in 1962-84, a committee member from 1956 to 2013 and a Marlborough Rugby Union delegate from 1966 to 1989.

"His contribution to the Awatere Rugby Club will probably never be equalled, let alone bettered," James says.

Trevor's record-keeping was scrupulous, he adds, although his methods fairly casual, jotting figures down in a notebook or on the back of a cigarette packet.

Trevor was a Marlborough Rugby Union delegate when its representative team won the Ranfurly Shield in 1973. The celebrations were huge, Terry says, but Trevor never let them get in the way of "the donkey work".

"He was more of a back-seat man, rather than up front. He would go to town on Friday before a Ranfurly Shield match to see that everything was ship-shape. On Saturday morning he would be there doing things . . . he would take

part in the festivities and on Sunday morning he would be back again, cleaning up."

A life member of both the Awatere club and the Marlborough union, his dedication to the sport was life-long, even after his marriage to Margaret when he was 59 years old.

That made him an instant stepfather to five children and he swapped the Seaview farm house for a home in Seddon. Its proximity to the rugby grounds prompted Trevor to start doing daily checks.

He mowed the clubroom lawns, watered the playing field and kept a close an eye on the water and electricity meters, Susan says. Terry agrees. "He did so much work for the club without recognition. The club is only just starting to realise how much he did."

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David Dick's commitment was equally strong and the committee members describe him as "fiercely parochial'.'

He had started playing for Awatere as a 6th grade player in 1953 before he was sent to boarding school. Returning in 1958, he became a 3rd grade player and represented Marlborough at that level. From 1964 to 1972 he was in the Awatere seniors and, as the father of young sons, started coaching junior rugby.

"He was a no-nonsense man," James says. "He wouldn't suffer any pansies. If some kid got hurt - and they do - it was: ‘Toughen up sunshine, the game isn't over yet'."

David joined the club committee, too, serving as secretary and vice-president at one stage, and became well- known and respected by members of other clubs around Marlborough.

"He could have walked into any club . . . and people would be glad to have a conversation with him," James says.

Last season David insisted Awatere join the Kaikoura Rugby Club in its 125th celebrations.

David Hammond says the older man had worked at Clarence years ago and still seemed to know half the people in the Kaikoura clubrooms.

"He could tell who they were and where they came from. It was the same in other club rooms: Moutere, Pelorus, Waitohi, and Central."

In fact, whichever club Awatere was playing, David never seemed to care which team scored the highest points, James says.

"[Rugby] was a social event; he caught up with guys he had probably played with or coached or had contact with through dog trials."

David's farming connections led to valuable fundraising opportunities. An Awatere Rugby Club trip to Australia in the 1970s - "ground-breaking at the time" - was financed by evening hay-carting rosters David organised and the purchase, tender and relocation of old saltworks' houses he helped co-ordinate.

His most recent contribution to the club was co-ordinating cattle sales at the Marlborough Sale Yard. The club was given responsibility for shifting cattle from their pens, across a weighbridge to be sold, then back to their holding pens.

Overseeing sales of 2000 cattle or more requires good stockmanship, man management and common sense and David handled it all with ease, James says.

One year a bull broke its leg on his farm and when the insurance man said "just butcher it", David saw another cash opportunity for the club. "Hundreds of kilograms of sausages" were produced, James remembers.

The sausages weren't as memorable as the "mountain oysters" David ritually served to young Awatere rugby players.

It happened after the annual docking of lambs on the Dick farm; David would bring the small testicles into the clubroom kitchen and cook up the rural delicacies.

He leaves a lasting legacy, David Hammond says. "He was a committed player, a lower grade coach who was proud to have his three sons play for the club, and he was a club member who put far more back into the club that what he took out."

- The Marlborough Express

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