Anthony Graham (Tony) Small
April 19, 1936–November 29, 2021
Multiple provincial sports representative, and former Magpies rugby prolific goalkicker and coach Tony (A.G.) Small died on Monday, aged 85.
He made his first-class rugby and cricket debuts in 1956, for Hawke's Bay and Central Districts respectively, and later also represented the Bay at national championship levels in bowls and golf.
From Dannevirke, he also played cricket for now-bygone representative side Southern Hawke's Bay and bowls for Manawatu.
He was also Hawke's Bay's first NPC rugby coach, including in his first season the championship's first Division 1 match, in 1976 against Auckland at McLean Park, Napier.
As family gathered for a service to be held on Thursday and limited to 100 people because of the pandemic restrictions, they pondered what to put down as his occupation, and wrote "sportsman", although having grown up on a farm at Weber, east of Dannevirke, he had been a stock buyer and he and first wife Maureen ran a jewellery shop for some years in the town.
While well-known for many achievements on the sports field, pitches, rinks and links, his 64 rugby matches over 10 seasons for the Magpies stands out.
He was a rare goalkicking forward, playing mostly at flanker, often with the great Kel Tremain flanking on the other side of the Magpies' scrum, and scoring 435 points – a record in the 81 years of Hawke's Bay representative rugby at the time he retired in 1965, his last match being South Africa's 30-12 victory over the Bay at McLean Park.
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The previous record was the 336 scored by wing Bert Grenside, mainly in tries, from 1918-1931, and Small is still fourth on the list, headed only by the late Jarrod Cunningham (1990-1998, 77 games, 1007pts), 1960s Ranfurly Shield era fullback Ian Bishop (1963-1972, 96 games, 631pts) and 2013 shield-winning hero and first five-eighths Ihaia West (2012-2017, 62 games, 628pts).
A special feature was his role in three close Hawke's Bay Ranfurly Shield challenges as the union bounced back from the low of being beaten 52-12 by the British Isles in 1959 towards winning the famed trophy in 1967.
He kicked the Bay's only points in the 1961 and 1963 challenges against Auckland at Eden Park, lost 5-3 and drawn 3-all respectively, and a penalty and conversion of one of three Hawke's Bay tries when beaten 21-17 by Taranaki in New Plymouth in 1965.
He played just two seasons of cricket for Central Districts, and after moving from Dannevirke to Havelock North more than 20 years ago won three Hawke's Bay Centre bowling titles, including a Champion of Champion Triples, and eight Havelock North club titles, including once being the singles champion.
He also played Golden Oldies rugby, and had a fascination with racing, being in partnerships with such people as Tremain, and had winners at both gallops and harness racing, one at Alexandra Park, Auckland.
The last of nine children of farmers William and Winifred Small, he started school at North Primary in Dannevirke, and then boarded at Napier Boys' High School in 1950-1953. He was Head of Hostel and in first XV at rugby.
He is survived by second wife Jo, first wife Maureen, sons Ian and William, daughter Debbie, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.