Ponder the reasons for the multitude of successes the Napier Pirate Rugby and Sports Club has experienced during the past 12 months and one word springs to mind ... whanau.

"You're right. You can't fault the family atmosphere of the club," Lindsay Ellison said as club members prepared for the 130th anniversary celebrations, which begin tonight and continue tomorrow and Sunday.

A club life member since 2002, Ellison was joined by his brother Russell and Mo and Kathy Edwards on the list of life members at last year's annual meeting. It's the first time a set of brothers and a hubby-and-wife combination have featured on the list but it highlights the significance of whanau at the Tamatea Park-based club.

"We're not the only families involved. There are the Daggs and Foxs who have contributed five generations of players to the club, there's Johnny Morrison, who still plays with his sons Sean and Stephen in the premier team, there's our premier coach Andy Lord, who has played alongside his son Tipene, to name a few others," Lindsay said.


The Ellisons and Edwards are adamant the past 12 months will be a hot topic of discussion when past and present Pirates gather this weekend. The club won the most sought-after trophy in Hawke's Bay club rugby, the Maddison Trophy, for the fourth time since 2004, Rugby League Hawke's Bay's premier title for the second consecutive year and the Hawke's Bay Sevens title for the first time.

They are equally as adamant this success will continue.

"The results across all codes are good. We believe the move back from across the road has given the club stability again," Lindsay said referring to the 2014 move back from the Tamatea Tavern, where the club had been based since 1997.

A club member for 40 years, Lindsay, 55, played for the under-19s, managed several teams and has been club captain and chairman. He ranked the 2004 and '05 Maddison Trophy wins as his highlights.

"They were also sad times because life members like Bob Keeble and former All Black Harry Frazer couldn't get their mitts on the trophy because they had died a few years earlier," Lindsay recalled.

The club president since 2009, Russell, 62, has been a club member since 1996. He managed the premier team in the mid 1990s and has had stints as treasurer, secretary and club captain.

After playing for Eskview, Mo Edwards joined the club in 1983. He had three years in the premier team before playing for the reserves and the thirds.

Edwards had his last game for the thirds four years ago at the age of 53. He is now involved with coaching the thirds and back in 2000 was involved with the coaching of the premier team, which included Magpies and Zimbabwe players Karl Mudzamba and Antony Papenfus.


Along with his wife Kathy, who has been a club member since 1989, Mo has coached two teams from fifth grade to 12th grade level.

Seven of their children and five of their grandchildren have represented the club at rugby or netball. Two of their sons, Dane and Jarrod McCarthy, have tasted Maddison Trophy glory.

Lindsay Ellison is confident the club's premiers will retain the Maddison Trophy this season "if all the injured players can get back on the paddock at the same time".

"Because of the impact of work commitments the premier club competition is so unpredictable these days but at the same time that's what makes it exciting," he added.

And the chances of the premier team beating Tech tomorrow?

"We're at home and the park will be full ... of course we will win," Mo Edwards replied.

The 130th anniversary celebrations will begin with a gathering of past and present Pirates with sponsors and guests tonight. Tomorrow's play will be followed by a party with DJ music and Sunday's anniversary lunch will end the celebrations.