Upon the news of the passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a Kihikihi local recalled rare memories he shared with him, including putting a "goal in over the Duke's head."
In 1956, at the invitation of Viscount Lord Cowdray, a New Zealand polo team embarked on a month-long sea voyage across the Panama Canal to England with 17 horses loaded as deck cargo on the TSS Persic – these horses were purchased by Lord Cowdray following
The New Zealand team, Aotea, included Hamish Wilson of the Rangitīkei Club, Derick Glazebrook and AF Sandy Mackenzie of the Hawke's Bay Club, Jack Masters a player from Hawke's Bay, TC Lowry who was a junior and Tony Kay of the Kihikihi Club.
Hamish, Jack and Lowry sailed with the horses while the rest of the team travelled by plane at a later date.
"Lucky it was a calm crossing all the way, horses on the deck in a rough sea might have seen them all end up in the sea," says Tony.
Their first match they played was at Windsor Park against the Hurlingham team which consisted of the Duke, Daphne Lakin, John Lakin and Peter Dollar.
Aotea were defeated by the Hurlingham team.
And in their next match they were also defeated; they had played against a Cowdray side.
Next up on the tour was the Neil Haig Cup which Aotea secured a win against Friar Park, 6 -1.
They then went on to compete in the Cowdray Park's Gold Cup – consisting of three English teams, and Argentinian team and Aotea, says Tony.
This was the first year the cup was played and it has since become a prominent competition within the British polo calendar.
Aotea played the Argentinian team, Los Indios, in the first round and were defeated 13 -2.
According to Horace A Laffaye's book, Polo in Britain: A History, Aotea won their last two encounters during the competition.
Los Indios went on to win the cup after securing the win in the final against the Cowdray Park team, the score was 9 – 4.
Tony also recalls playing further and a part of the Midhurst Town Cup – a competition played at Viscount Lord Cowdray's estate near Midhurst where players from the five cup teams were scrambled to make two completely new teams that went on to play versus each other.
The teams consisted of one New Zealander, one Argentinian and two Englishmen.
"I was the New Zealander on one side and the Duke was one of the two Englishmen on the other side," says Tony.
Mid-way through the game, Tony's side was awarded a penalty and his captain, the Argentinian, tasked Tony with taking the shot.
"The hit turned out to be a perfect one, 60 yards away from the goal and the Duke's in the goal mouth," says Tony.
"I put a goal over the Duke's head."
Tony's side went on to win the Midhurst Town Cup.
Tony also remembers meeting Queen Elizabeth II.
"On one occasion when we were playing in the Gold Cup, the Queen came out to watch him (the Duke of Edinburgh) play and a few of us New Zealanders got introduced," says Tony.
"I shook hands with the Queen… not everybody has shaken hands with the Queen. It makes you feel great, because this doesn't often happen and not many people are fortunate enough to do so, but I did."
Tony's time in England during 1956 wasn't the last he would see of the Duke.
During the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch, Tony captained his side in an exhibition game that was umpired by the Duke.
An article from the time, written by renowned New Zealand sports journalist Sir Terry McLean, stated that the match drew a crowd of at least 7000.
The article reported that Tony's team suffered the lost 7-3.
The opposition was captained by JF McKelvie of Rangitīkei.
"But the Duke, in public interest, outranked everyone in polo's greatest day in the south," wrote Sir Terry.