Shield hero Hayden Parker signs autographs at Forsyth Barr
Stadium yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Vic Isbister was a young man working in Wellington when
he saw Otago win the Ranfurly Shield at Athletic Park 56 years
Now 80, he never thought he would wait so long to see his
side win it again.
''I feel magnificent.''
Mr Isbister, of Dunedin, was one of more than 1000 fans to
attend a reception at Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday
afternoon to welcome the shield to its new home.
Fans lined up to see the trophy up close, congratulate
players, take photos and let the big win sink in.
Mr Isbister hoped Friday's win heralded the start of another
winning era for the side.
He was confident the shield could be held until the end of
He said he had been able to accept the first 30 years of
unsuccessful challenges, but ''boy, it really hurt over the
The 19-11 win in 1957 was unexpected, too, he said, noting
that Athletic Park no longer existed and Carisbrook was being
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull urged fans to enjoy the moment, as
the trophy's history suggested it might not stay too long in
Mr Cull, who was 7 when Otago last held the shield, said the
win was a triumph for fans as well as the team.
He joked the timing was perfect because it was too late for
coach Tony Brown to run for the mayoralty.
Three generations of the Henderson family were at the stadium
yesterday, grandfather Peter Henderson (67) keen for his
granddaughters Madeline (6), Genevieve (1), and Amelie (10)
to be part of the moment.
''It's history. The girls need to know the history,'' he
Mr Henderson, who grew up in Owaka, said he was about 10 when
the team last won the shield. He recalled his mother telling
him the news.
Son Wayne Henderson (38) said he had started to wonder if he
would ever see Otago prevail, Friday's ''surreal'' win was
yet to sink in.
The victory was an early birthday present for Stewart Paul,
of Waikouaiti, who turns 40 today. He had closely followed
the team's near misses over the years, and wanted to savour
the win before thinking about the first defence next weekend.
The shield win was a much-needed boost for the whole
province, he said, as he queued with son Nickalous (7) for a
closer look at it. Rob Girvan (33), of Waihola, with son Jack
(5), said he felt a sense of relief after the years of
The atmosphere at the stadium in Dunedin yesterday was
''awesome'', and he hoped a street parade was also being
Paul Hendry, of Dunedin, brought his favourite rugby books
along to be signed. He had had the pair of them carefully
stowed away for more than 30 years to be signed the next time
the province won the shield.
The 49-year-old was still hoarse from the game on Friday, the
''magic'' win bringing him to tears.
The win made him so happy, he would hardly have cared if the
All Blacks lost against Australia on Saturday. John Hollows
(45), of Dunedin, with young sons Angus and Blake, felt the
win reflected the team's return to its grass roots since the
Otago union's financial turmoil last year.
"There was a new ethos centred around born-and-bred Otago
players, who displayed ''pride and passion'' on the field, Mr
Long-time friends Hanz Howie (49) and John Finnie (54), both
of Dunedin, had not been born when Otago was last triumphant.
Together they had gone ''through the pain'' of the past few
decades, and it was good to finally be able to celebrate, Mr
The win made Olive Burt (84) nostalgic for the times she
attended rugby games at Carisbrook with late husband Len.
She was thrilled the province had won, and hoped to attend
the first defence next weekend.
''Who would have thought we would have to wait this long?''
She enjoyed following the sport, though it was not quite the
same without her husband, who used to play for Pirates.