Multisport volunteer goes every extra mile

IMPRESSIVE WORK ETHIC: Enthusiasm, commitment and meticulous attention to detail are hallmarks of Bill Anderson's approach.
IMPRESSIVE WORK ETHIC: Enthusiasm, commitment and meticulous attention to detail are hallmarks of Bill Anderson's approach.

Ever wondered what drives a man to give freely of his time hour after hour on a voluntary basis? Don Wright catches up with this week's Legend of Sport, Bill Anderson.

If there are any awards going for unsung heroes, Invercargill's Bill Anderson would be one of the favourites when his vast contribution to basketball, cycling, rugby and softball is assessed.

The countless hours he has devoted to those sports alone has not been drudgery. Anything but, in fact, when you talk to the man himself, a quietly spoken person who is not into pushing his own barrow.

His motivation is the constant reward of sheer enjoyment and satisfaction, not dollars and cents. He is an "actions speak louder than words" person.

"I enjoy it all, that's what drives me," he said.

"You never really think about it. It's just a part of your life that you love doing and happens naturally. You only think about it when you are interviewed at a time like this. My wife Clare, who supports me wonderfully, and I do not have any children which frees us up to help young folk in sport."

He has never been a man to dilly-dally. He left PGG Wrightson one Friday in late June after 51 years in the mercantile industry and began on a voluntary basis with Rugby Southland the following Monday. His service to the game stretches back four decades.

Last week, proved a hectic time for him at Rugby Southland headquarters, discharging his duties as secretary for AJ (Spud) Tait's sub-committee which organised the 125th celebrations.

"That role has involved taking minutes and the like and handling registrations, including some from Australia and others throughout New Zealand. Eion Crossan and Paul Laidlaw came from Australia and Brian McKechnie and others from Christchurch," he said.

"For a while, the registrations response was slow but came right in time. Four weeks before kick-off, only 37 registrations were to hand but we ended up with 230 at last Saturday night's dinner."

He is in his seventh year as a voluntary worker for Rugby Southland, which made him a life member in December, 2003, following a similar honour from the Metro sub-union. Those recognitions were matched by being made a life member of the Southland Basketball Association in 1984 after a history in administration dating back to 1961.

Softball was a summer recreation he loved. He played for Collegiate Cardinals and served on the committee of the Southland Softball Association for 11 years.

"Refereeing with Murray Jarvis and others was a very enjoyable association in softball for me".

Amazingly, he was involved with the Southland Basketball Association for 24 years on the executive (three years as president) and 41 years with the Southland Rugby Referees Association as a referee and in administration. He was also secretary and treasurer for 14 years, attended to referee appointments for 13 years and refereed for 20 years.

Anderson had a close association with the Collegiate Rugby Football Club as a player and administrator, playing for the club when he was at primary school and Southland Technical College.

After serving George Cameron as an assistant secretary for four years, he left the club and became a referee.

Somehow he was still able to devote plenty of time to softball and cycling, particularly the Tour of Southland.

An avid stamp collector who enjoys his Cromwell holiday home with wife Clare, his roll of duty with the Tour of Southland meant he never saw an entire race but saw every finish while in charge of the Southland Farmers Company caravan. A workmate on the Southland Cycling Association asked if the van could be used as a towed vehicle to serve the tour as it had been used for other sports.

Officials have used the van on the finish line, with Anderson towing it from finish to finish, for 26 years.

"There would have been hell to pay if any cyclists got to the finish line before I did, that's why I left ahead of them or kept ahead of them and never saw an entire stage."

One of his worst sporting moments involved an Australian cyclist's heavy crash near Lumsden in the Tour of Southland. "He fell from his bike, hit a post and was badly injured. That was a big low point for all of us."

One of his most satisfying experiences in sport was playing a key role in making arrangements for four teams to stay in Southland during a Commonwealth basketball tournament. "The Invercargill Licensing Trust played a big part in us being able to accommodate four teams in the city."

Certain moments of Anderson's sporting life stand out, especially a "gripping and touching moment" he enjoyed while a liaison officer for the Welsh team while it was in Invercargill during the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup.

" Their manager paid me a great honour when he invited me to attend their ceremony for handing out team playing kits. I must admit it put a lump in a man's throat."

Club rugby manager and referee education officer Keith Crothers is well qualified to comment on Anderson as a man and valued workmate. "Over 70 years of age, Bill puts in the hard yards and insists in not being rewarded in any monetary way. At the peak of our rugby season, he is putting in 40 plus hours a week. He is meticulous in his paper work, managing more than 5000 players, coaches and referees." Crothers acknowledged Anderson's determination never to leave a job half done.

"He is often seen at Les George Oval operating the scoreboard and clock. His work ethics serve as a fine example to many young people ... the epitome of diligence.