May 1 - 1875 start of Rugby on West Coast

The new Rugby game was introduced to other parts of New Zealand in 1875, Otago, Canterbury, Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and West Coast. For Greymouth players, their first involvement with the playing of the game was on May 1.

“To Greymouth enthusiasts goes the honour of introducing Rugby to the West Coast. A “football” Club was active the previous year, but the desire for the popular Code was such that these enthusiasts held a meeting at Greymouth on April 10, notice of their intention to form a Club being given in The Grey River Argus (Greymouth), Friday, April 9, as under: —

“A meeting of those interested in the formation of a Football Club for the approaching season will be held at Gilmer’s Hotel, on Saturday, at 8 p.m.”

Greymouth Club was the outcome of the meeting, and although actually very little progress was accomplished for several seasons, Rugby since this meeting has always found a place in the West Coaster’s sport. Greymouth Club commenced activities on May 1, the following account of the opening day being taken from The Grey River Argus (Greymouth), Monday, May 3:—

“The Greymouth Foot-ball Club opened the season on Saturday, the 1st of May. The day was so bright and pleasant that it was difficult to believe one’s self in the Southern Hemisphere. There was an excellent muster and the ground was in fair order. Sides were chosen by Mr. Newton and Mr. Ahearn. After some vigorous play on both sides, Mr. Ahearn’s team scored two goals, whilst their opponents did not succeed in gaining any. Mr. North and Mr. Warner then picked sides. The play lasted a long time, and was kept up with much spirit. The result was a goal to each side. The best of feeling was manifested throughout, everyone taking his ‘spills’ in good part.”

Matches played by the members included a “Banks and Lawyers” versus “All Corners “ game, which extended over two days, and a contest with a team from the local Fire Brigade. Another fixture was between Greymouth Club and a Volunteer side, this match also taking two days to complete. Reporting the latter game, The Grey River Argus (Greymouth), Monday, July 5, recounted: —

“A foot-ball match took place on Saturday on the Camp Reserve, between the Club and the Volunteers. After some excellent play, the Club succeeded in kicking a goal, and the game was continued with much spirit until dusk, but was not finished. It will be continued next Saturday.”

Greymouth Club attempted to arrange a match with the touring Auckland side, but although Auckland considered the matter in a favourable light, difficulty in travel would not allow for a contest in the time available to the Northerners.”

From “The History of New Zealand Rugby Football Vol. 1 1870-1945” by A C Swan. First published 1948 by A H & A W Reed. Pp. 50-51.