The XXXX Golden Oldies from Ballymore travelled to Norfolk Island to challenge the Creaky Old Convicts to a game of Rugby.
Wednesday 25 July and the bags are packed, cab booked for a short trip to the airport and as usual the M1 has had a major and traffic is literally going backwards. What is normally an $18.00 ride turns into a $41.50 ride. This is not looking good for a trip to a South Pacific Island made famous by Lieutenant Phillip Gidley King – first Governor of Norfolk Island, one time Governor of Australia, and third Governor of Norfolk Island (well some folks just can’t make up their minds where they want to be). Anyway the Goldies meet at the airport and first order of the day is 27 gold stubbies thanks!
NorfolkAir welcomed us aboard and in true naïve style placed us all at the back of the plane – nearest the toilets and also the bar – big mistake. The loveliest mannered hosties (oops – cabin crew) looked after the tour party of 27 like we were royalty. They were so nice they could have been someone’s (younger) sister.
We arrived in style and the cabin crew really looked after our Cyril (Cyril Andrews played for Australia in a rugby match against South Africa in 1938 – so at 92 and rather deaf he is a gentleman but can be a handful) during the 120 minute flight.
Wednesday evening a game of touch was organised to loosen up tight muscles from a short well appointed air ride followed by a sumptuous bar-b-que dinner all washed down with volumes of our sponsors thirst quenching ale. Thursday we took a complimentary half day tour of the island and gained the high and higher points of a paradise in the South Pacific. Thursday afternoon we broke away and all did a bit of our own things followed by a meeting at the local Lawn Bowls club for a game of barefoot bowls – and just a word to the wise the bar staff were exceptional and scoured the island for alcohol as we tried our best to drink the place dry.
Friday we filled up the day with an early morning bush walk though sub-tropical rain forests followed by a brilliant breakfast cooked on a bar-b-que by Rachel and her 20 day old son. After this we took a farm and industry tour and devoured the wines at the island winery followed by a farm visit and polished off at the island Liqueur distillery. It can be said that at this point the island economy was beginning to prosper very nicely. Friday was rounded out with a Fish Fry – a local tradition and the food was brilliant which requires a big thanks to Truck and his happy band.
Saturday morning was free to allow us finely tuned athletes to focus on the game ahead – most were found at places where alcohol was sold, something very unexpected. After extensive advertising over the local radio about this game of rugby being one of the highlights of the season we meandered towards the historic parade grounds of the second settlement – made by convict labour, usurped by officers and now enjoyed by the descendants of convicts and mutineers – there is some justice in this world, rough justice HOWEVER justice all the same. The lush green fields, with temporary posts in place made a resplendent view much photographed by the Brisbane players who have been suffering drought conditions for some 4 years now. Most had forgotten to bring long tags so we were adapting the game plan as we went.
Now the Creaky Old Convicts were mustering at one end near a very old stone building and we were open to the elements – beautiful warm winters days with clear blue skies and golden sunshine – temperature somewhere
near the mild 19’s C. The wives and partners on tour had prepared and formed as a cheer squad and ironically as it may sound their chant sent shivers down the spine of every XXXX Golden Oldies playing this game – it was along the lines of No Win – NO SEX. Now I have had coaches place pressure upon a team before but this was ridiculous. After a rendition of the Australian national anthem sung by highly agitated players, all full and a bit of adrenaline running wild we took the field.
Now it is easy to see why the mutineers were never caught – they have passed down the fleet of foot necessary to evade capture and dodging a tackle was child’s play. A fantastic fast and solidly contestable game ebbed and flowed. The XXXX Goldies were at the ebbing end and the Creaky Old convicts were on the flowing side. All was made memorable by Cyril Andrews, fully decked out in kit including moulded soul touch boots made a cameo appearance. At 92 the old winger / centre carved up the convicts, scored under the posts and then to add insult to injury converted his own try – much to the delight of the large crowd who had formed a ring around the grounds. Maybe just maybe the Australian convicts were a bit tougher, especially in the old days!!
Trading of trophies and then the obligatory “sharing of a drink” before we were whisked off to the local club for dinner and song. The Norfolk blokes made brilliant hosts and are keen to welcome anyone from around the world to their door. We have to thank Gary Dowling and Mal Tarrant for organising the game, Ewan Wilson (CEO of NorfolkAir) for great flights and in-flight service (and if we had only known he was on the field we may have taken it easy on him – Nah, just kidding) as well as Lettuce (Les of Bounty Tours) and Juliette from Burnt Pine travel.
WE have agreed that we must all return – merely to recapture our honour – not to relive the best 5 day tour ever!!
Written by Mad dog.
Also this by Gaelene in the other local paper Norfolk windows online....
Visitor of the week
This week we have on island the Ballymore XXXX Golden Oldies football club from Queensland. The team came over to challenge Norfolk’s Creaky Ol’ Convicts in a game of Rugby League.
Twenty players and eight their supporters arrived on Wednesday from Brisbane for a few days holiday, and to play football. We were able to catch up with three members of their team for a quick interview down at the Kingston oval on Saturday after their game.
Cyril Andrews is 90 years young and the senior member of the team. Cyril has been playing football since his school years in 1928. He was born and raised in Brisbane and has lived there all of his life. (photo L shows Cyril kicking a goal)
When Cyril left school there weren’t many jobs around and he completed a six year boot making apprenticeship. He worked for one week as a boot maker then gave that up to work in the building trade. However, Cyril made is own football boots to play Rugby against South Africa in 1937. Cyril played football for Brisbane for six years, and has been a member of the Ballymore XXXX Golden Oldies for many years. They travel all over the world, with a London trip in 1984 fondly remembered. They are planning a trip to Scotland next year. Cyril hopes to be a part of the team when they come back to Norfolk in 2009.
This is Cyril’s first visit to Norfolk. He has always wanted to come here but never got around to it. What does he think of Norfolk now that he has finally made it? “Beautiful. A bit cold. It would be good to live here. It won’t be the last visit”, he told us. Cyril said they had been well looked after, and added that the tour guides at Bounty Excursions, Les and Steve, were fantastic. He strongly recommends the half day tour, fish fry and the Farm and Industry tour.
We also caught up with John and Elaine Marsh. They are friends of some of the team, and when they heard of the trip to Norfolk, John and Elaine both chose to join. So John was nominated water boy for the team, but by his own confession, he was not a very good one. John was able to take lots of photos for the team from the safety of the side lines.
They have thoroughly enjoyed Norfolk. “Its very nice, but this trip was too short” says John. “The people have been lovely and made us welcome wherever we go. You can just chat to people”.
The tours that they went on, including the breakfast bushwalk, the Farm and Industry tour, and the fish fry at Bedrock were excellent. The weather was better than they expected, and it was great to see rain as they haven’t had rain in Nerangba (which is where they live in Queensland) for so long.
Both John and Elaine grew up around Cornwall and Devon in England and have only been living in Australia for a year. They thought that Norfolk was like it was when they were growing up in the villages in England. “So friendly, we have spoken to more people in one week on Norfolk than in the whole year in Brisbane”.
“We would like to thank everyone for their hospitality and welcome. It’s been unbelievable. Love the waves from people in their cars. We will be back for a longer stay and will definitely be recommending Norfolk to others”.
We took our own children to the Friday night football, Norfolk style, it was all the juniors playing and Sienna and Teddy couldnt wait to get into the action themselves, but made do with some of the practise bollards.