Hundreds turn out for shield's return

By Roger Moroney, Sam Hurley

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Simon Tremain and son Kalle joined Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule in hoisting the shield aloft - as did all who got close to it when it arrived yesterday. Photo / Duncan Brown
Simon Tremain and son Kalle joined Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule in hoisting the shield aloft - as did all who got close to it when it arrived yesterday. Photo / Duncan Brown

Check out a video of the triumphant homecoming here.

Among the crowds of excited Magpies fans at Hawke's Bay Airport to greet the Ranfurly Shield yesterday was KR Tremain.

Four-year-old Kalle Robin (KR) Tremain, the grandson of All Black and Magpies great Kelvin Robin (KR) Tremain, got to hold the famous Log o' Wood with his father Simon.

There was clear joy, pride and nostalgia for Simon Tremain yesterday because his father, Kel, who had captained the Magpies, brought the shield to the Bay after lifting it from Waikato at the end of the 1966 season.

That was the year his brother Chris was born and two years before he was born.

But they had grown up with the pictures and stories from that great day and for Simon Tremain, who was there with Kalle and his other son Edu (8), it was the chance to experience what he had heard about so many times.

"I still meet people today who talk about those times - so here it is happening again. It's unbelievable and I wouldn't have missed this for the world," he said as he merged fittingly into the sea of black and white jerseys, scarves, hats and banners.

"I watched the game at the Westshore with Chris, Mark, mum and all the kids. For the last 10 minutes I was getting a bit nervous because we were trying to protect our lead rather than play rugby."

It was an occasion when, at the final whistle, their thoughts turned to the late Kel - husband, father and grandfather.

"Very special day," Mr Tremain said.

Former Magpie and All Black Ian MacRae played in the shield-winning 6-0 game on September 24, 1966, and was there at the airport to be greeted by delighted supporters the following day.

It was deja vu time yesterday for "Mac" as he returned from Dunedin with the team.

"This is a great day," he said as the throng burst into chants and song.

"It is never an easy thing to lift," the life member of the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union said.

Had he lifted the shield again himself 47 years after the last time the Bay arrived home with it?

"Yes, I've had a wee touch of it."

For long-time Magpie supporter Gary McDonald of Napier the result was "brilliant" for the whole province. "It is absolutely stunning because we all remember those great days in the 60s, and it's important that we can now look to the here and now rather than there and then."

He said he watched the game with a fair amount of confidence although admitted that the final minutes cranked up a few heart palpitations.

"That was a real shield game."

Apart from the players and officials the only other person outside the team structure to hold the shield before it arrived in Napier was a member of the Air New Zealand cabin crew.

Captain Mike Coman took it aboard and it was handed to the stewardess just before take-off and placed securely in a storage locker.

Once on the way it was then brought out and passed around between the players again.

Then on the approach into Napier it was put back in the locker again.

The Hawke's Bay Airport Authority also got in on the celebratory act by not charging the hundreds who arrived by car to greet the team.

The carpark barrier arms were all left up.

A number of school children were also afforded time off school to welcome back their rugby heroes.

Napier's Richmond School performed a haka for the players as they made their way through the Hawke's Bay Airport terminal.

Hereworth School students were also at the airport for a chance to secure players' autographs and photos.

One fan said he wanted to relish the opportunity to celebrate the elusive shield while it called Hawke's Bay home.

"This may never happen again in my lifetime, 44 years since we last held it, so I had to come down here and cheer on the boys."

Another fan couldn't wait for the defence to begin starting Saturday against Counties-Manukau.

"We just wanted to show them how proud we were of them and welcome them home - It's bloody brilliant mate. I'll definitely be there Saturday when they defend it against Counties."

Young fans were also able to get up close to the Log' o Wood and have their photos taken with the prestigious trophy, many for the first time.

"Yes, it's the first time I've seen the shield before and the first time I've touched it!" said one.

Hastings District Council's organised parade for the Magpies rugby team to show off the shield to the community starts about 10.30am today.

The parade will leave the Hibernian Club carpark, 402 Eastbourne St, led by police, Hastings Pipe Band and the media vehicle.

The parade will turn right into Heretaunga St and head through the middle of the city up to Karamu Rd.

At Karamu Rd it will turn right and head on to a paved area out front of the Hastings City Art Gallery.

There will be four speeches and a haka led by Hastings Boys High School, beginning about 11.15am.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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