Friday, September 7, 2012

Celebrating Chatham cup victory

Celebrating Chatham cup victory Saturday, September 8, 2012 6:00 Hamilton soccer legend Arthur Leong, and wife Maureen, with New Zealand's soccer Holy Grail - a Chatham Cup winner's medal. Surviving members of the Hamilton Technical Old Boys soccer team, which won the hallowed Chatham Cup in 1962, will share laughter and memories in Hamilton tonight. Six players will gather at Arthur Leong's Hamilton home to celebrate 50 years since they, as rank underdogs, won the cup by beating Northern, of Dunedin, 4-1. Arthur tried to trace others, some of whom he thinks went to Australia. Some may have passed on but Mel 'Nobby' Clarke proved to be his biggest mystery. "Nobby, a wonderful goalkeeper, sort of disappeared soon after we won the cup. No one really knows where he went, or what he did." Former players John Dekkers, Charlie Caldwell, Tom Henderson, Paul Nevison and Trevor Jones will join Arthur and his wife Maureen. In those days before 1970, the knockout tournament was played nationwide and the winners of the North and South Island competitions met for the final in Wellington. The Chatham Cup was presented to the then New Zealand Football Association in 1922 by the crew of HMS Chatham in appreciation for the hospitality they encountered on a visit to New Zealand. Tech Old Boys is one of the few clubs outside of the main centres to triumph in the cup knockout tournament. Arthur recalls the team's trip to Wellington was a great adventure. Everyone knew they were up against a class outfit, the pride of Dunedin, and holders of the 'cup'. He says Tech Old Boys selected their playing colours - maroon with light blue sleeves - after seeing English first division club Aston Villa's strip. "It did show the difference between us and the opposition. They came on to the field in their flash shirts while us Hamilton boys had home-made shirts sewed for us by Stella Wallace, the coach's daughter" (and mother of Margaret Wallace of city alteration workshop fame). He remembers the early days of the club, set up in the years after World War Two. He also recalls the club being wound up in 1964 - the same year he hung up his boots after a distinguished sporting career. Arthur Leong, fullback, inside back and centrehalf was a fixture in the New Zealand team from 1959 through to his retirement. Many other members of the national side played, at some time, with the Tech Old Boys. Arthur, who says that representative sport was almost totally self-funded at the time, attended Hamilton Technical School and later taught at Te Awamutu College and Fairfield College. He still has a competitive edge and plays golf up to three times a week with his mates at Horsham Down Golf Club.

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