The 1950s - Seeds of Growth

  26 August 2013   John Bradbury   History

The 1949 Chatham Cup success led to a decade in which we won the Venus Shield for the 4th time, in 1952, and finished in the top four in six other seasons. There also emerged a core of junior players who were to form the nucleus of the 1st team for years to come, and a group of administrators who were to give great service to the club at junior management and club levels for many years.


A proposal by committee member Jack Evans, father of Tony – our first home-grown player to become a New Zealand representative, to organise a junior end of season tournament was amended by the committee to apply not for juniors but for clubs’ 1st teams. (In 1956 we had three men’s teams and three junior teams.) And so, in 1955, with Otto Hilton having garnered support from the Wellington clubs and referees and then donated a handsome trophy, the Hilton-Petone Friendly Tournament was born. Teams from all the top Wellington clubs entered and Petone were inaugural runners-up and then won the trophy in 1956, the forerunner of several successes – the latest being this year.


In 1956, centurion Alan Kearton made his first team debut and a year later was followed by centurions Bob Walley, John Ryan and Tony Evans. Alan, Bob and John received their mugs at the last Old Timers’ Day and today it will be the turn of Tony Evans, who made the most appearances (10) of those on debut that season.


Another innovation was the formation in 1958 of a Junior Management Committee, which brought together volunteer administrators, coaches and managers – in most cases the fathers of junior players - to look after the increasing number of boys who wanted to play football. Junior coaching had started years earlier with Andy Leslie and Jimmy Campbell, both New Zealand representatives, and 1949 Chatham Cup fullback Bob Reid. One floodlight on a power pole in Udy Street facing the north east corner of Petone Rec limited the junior practice area while the seniors used floodlights mounted on the grandstand, lighting an area in front of the public toilets.


Change was inevitable for the club to accommodate the World War II baby boomers and the scene was set for major strides forward in the 1960s.

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