Footy codes tussle over park

NZ Rugby League tries to obtain use of Culling Park from tenant Otago Football Association and...
NZ Rugby League tries to obtain use of Culling Park from tenant Otago Football Association and owner St Kilda Borough Council for a visiting English rugby league team. Cartoon by Gordon McIntyre. — Otago Witness, 15.7.1924
At the meeting of the executive of the Otago Football Association last night a letter from the town clerk of St. Kilda was read with reference to the visit of the English Rugby League team, asking for the use of Culling Park on August 9 and August 13. The writer asked if the executive offered any objection to the use of the ground being granted for the League team’s visit. Mr Deuchrass moved that a letter be sent to the St Kilda Council, informing it that before the use of the ground could he granted the Board of Control would have to make application to the Otago Football Association. The association had a lease of the ground until the end of September. 

Mr McCrorie expressed the opinion that if they considered the interest of Association football they should turn the proposal down altogether. He moved “that the executive refuse to grant the use ground for League football purposes.” The Chairman supported the view. He stated that all the evidence he had was in the direction of showing that that was the right course to adopt. Mr Anderson asked if they thought it better to refuse the use of the ground or enter into negotiations. Everyone could see that the League was making progress. The Rugby Union had treated them as a sister code, and if they carried the amendment they would not be treating the League game as a sister code, which was a very poor policy.

The Chairman said the association was acting in self-defence. ‘‘We have invited the Chinese team to come here, and we are dependent on certain grounds for that fixture.’’ Mr Anderson then said he would move that the St. Kilda Council be informed that if it was agreeable to sign an agreement with the OFA for a lease of Culling Park for at least 10 years, the executive would be agreeable to reopen the matter. If this was adopted they would know what the intention of the St Kilda Council was. The motion was carried by 11 votes to three. After the secretary had been in telephonic communication with the Mayor of St Kilda the executive decided that if the St Kilda Council would grant to the OFA a lease of Culling Park for at least 10 years at the present rental, the council to have the right to use the ground for not more than two days per year, the executive would be prepared to reconsider the matter.

The subject also came up for discussion at the meeting of the St Kilda Borough Council last night. Cr Edgar, in moving that the request be acceded to subject to the permission of the OFA, said that it was the least they could do for the visiting English team. It would be very bad taste for any local body or any sporting body not to accede to the request of a visiting team for a ground. Cr Leary pointed out that it was hardly in order to grant the ground subject to the OFA’s consent, stating that the council had no control over the ground whatever. Cr Edgar then altered his motion as follows: ‘‘That in the opinion of the council the League should be given the use of the ground and the OFA be respectfully asked to accede to the request.”

The Mayor: “We will certainly be doing the right thing. That is only my opinion, of course, though the Rugby Union thinks differently. However, I think the OFA will look at it in this light.” Continuing, he said that he did not think they would be over-stepping the bounds of courtesy it they asked the present tenants to stand down for a couple of days, and indeed he thought they would be quite in order. The motion was then put to the vote and carried. — ODT, 8.7.1924

Compiled by Peter Dowden