Williams recognised for years of service

New Alhambra-Union life member Ken Williams (right) in the changing rooms at the north ground...
New Alhambra-Union life member Ken Williams (right) in the changing rooms at the north ground with club chairman Gary Wheeler (left). PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Most life members earn their spurs around the committee table. President, secretary or treasurer.

Be an office holder and eventually the life member badge will come your way.

But Ken Williams has done none of those. His duties carried out over perhaps 50 years — first at Alhambra and then at Alhambra-Union when the clubs combined in 1987 — have been just as vital.

His service was recognised earlier this month with a life membership of the Alhambra-Union club.

Williams, who turns 80 just after Christmas, is the man on the ground.

He helps put out the flags, brings them back in and cleans out the changing rooms.

His broom is well worn.

Every Saturday come hail, snow or sun, Williams will be in after the game cleaning out the changings sheds at the North Ground.

Then during the week, he will come in after practice at the Opoho grounds and clean up all the rooms.

And he has been doing this for as long as anyone can remember.

Alhambra and Union came together in 1987, 32 years ago. Williams has been there since the first game of the merged club.

And he was at Alhambra long before that — years and years.

He played rugby for Alhambra when he was younger, just down the grades, and he wanted to give back to the club.

These days he goes along and watches most Saturdays, and dutifully does his work before and after the game, before he goes to the bar for a quiet drink.

Club chairman Gary Wheeler said Williams’ life membership was long overdue and he probably should have received an honour before the two clubs combined.

Another Alhambra-Union stalwart, Hugh Tait, was awarded life membership by the club this month.


I had an uncle who played for Alhambra many years ago, and i often wondered about the clubs name, where did it come from? i eventually found out, and on the strength of that my wife and i made a point of visiting the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain, on a trip to Europe.

It was well worth it, but i am still left with the question: why was a rugby club in far-away Dunedin named after this fortress? Can anyone help?

Since not receiving any replies to that request, i did a little research myself, mainly thru Papers Past. It seems that the club was not named directly after the Alhambra Palace and fortress in Grenada, Spain. (The word is Arabic, and means "the Red One.")

The club was probably named after a ship that one or some of the club founders immigrated in, which itself was probably named after the palace.

According to my reading of events, the club was formed in 1863, with a junior team. It joined the ORFU the next year, and celebrated its 50th jubilee in 1934.

A ship named Alhambra arrived in Port Chalmers from Melbourne in 1871. My guess is that one or mor of its passengers later helped form the rugby club. I'm open to correction.

Correction: The club was formed in 1883.





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