Marking 100 years at Miller Park

Green Island Rugby Football Club premier captain Dylan Nel wears a grey jersey that harks back to...
Green Island Rugby Football Club premier captain Dylan Nel wears a grey jersey that harks back to the uniform worn at the first games at Miller Park 100 years ago, while president Brendon Hollows shows a new sign to mark the anniversary. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
It was 1921 and rugby was returning to Dunedin after the great upheavals of World War1.

The Green Island Rugby Football Club had been playing since 1884, but hosting home games at Christies Paddocks at the top of Koromata St was not ideal.

Current club president Brendon Hollows said rugby enthusiasm in the borough of Green Island after the war grew thanks to the Green Island School first assistant James McKenzie-Miller, who suggested rugby should replace football as the game of preference at the school.

A worker at the iron rolling mill, Dave Sloan, and halfback Davie Strang began to stir up support, pestering the community to “dig up as many players as they could”, Hollows said.

Green Island Mayor Lindsay Miller, was consulted and gave his support.

J.L. Miller was elected as president of the club and Davie Strang and Dave Sloan were elected as vice-presidents.

The club began looking for grounds, and identified a former Chinese market garden, across the railway line from the township and bordered by the Kaikorai Stream.

It was up for sale and as luck would have it, the owners of the land were the family of the mayor.

The family presented the park to the Green Island Borough Council to be used as a sports ground, and it was named Miller Park.

Post-war, money was hard to come by, Hollows said, so for their first competitions at Miller Park in 1921 the players wore an ordinary grey jersey with a green and gold ribbon sewn on.

The club is honouring that heritage and celebrating 100 years at Miller Park by recreating the grey jersey for its Premier team.

The jerseys will be worn just once, this Saturday, as Green Island plays Kaikorai in the Speight’s Jug Final.

The jerseys will then be auctioned as a fundraiser during a celebration evening of music and supper this Saturday at the club, Hollows said.

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