The Blairs – Four Generations!

  27 August 2013   John Bradbury   History

It should not come as a surprise to any readers that this season we have had four players gracing our 1st team with the surname of Blair. Three brothers: Jono, Cameron and Morgan; and their cousin: Mitchell. We have had sets of two and three brothers selected in the same 1st team before, we’ve had five Ryan brothers (Tom, John – a centurion, Joe, Jim, and Martin) who made 1st team appearances in various seasons between the late 1950s and the early 1970s, and we’ve had 1st team players whose sons have gone on to make the 1st team.


So family connections within the club have not been rare, but the record of the Blair family with our club is quite exceptional, even more than I had understood until some new research in recent weeks.


The first Blair family involvement with the club was with the great grandfather of our current players. Alex Blair was in the 1st team in 1932, playing regularly in the inside left position. When Andy Leslie returned for the 1933 season Alex made some appearances but played most of his football, and until May 1934, as captain of the successful 2nd team. He appears in the photo of the 1933 team in the digital presentation on the wall adjoining the large screen.


Being a railways employee, he was required to move around a little and he transferred to a Wellington club – NADA – (Northumberland and Durham Association) where he played senior football against Petone for a couple of years from mid-1934.


Whether there was any connection or not, the year after he left the club, his brother Bill was elected to the position of our club secretary. Our records show that he was in the role for just the one season.


We were privileged to have with us in the clubrooms a few weeks ago Alex’s sons - Bob Blair (now living in England) and Jim Blair. These very fit looking gentlemen are now in their 80s, but not looking like it at all. Indeed, Jim has for some years been the organiser of and played in our Hutt Valley over 60s team and, a couple of years ago, he played his last game against Wellington one day after his 80th birthday!


As youngsters, Jim and Bob lived in Britannia Street backing onto the Petone Rec. and they played for Petone as juniors between the ages of 8 and 12. The boys were both gifted players and represented Hutt Valley. They then moved on to play for Petone Technical College just across the park (where Weltec is now based), the only school in the Wellington area at that time where boys were allowed to play football. Jim later moved to the Stop Out club and was selected to play for New Zealand at left back on a tour to Asia in 1956, but when one host country withdrew the tour was cancelled. Bob went on to build an outstanding career in cricket as a fast bowler for Wellington and New Zealand.


While playing cricket for New Zealand, Bob’s captain was for the most part one of New Zealand’s top cricket internationals of all time - John Reid. Our neighbour at Memorial Park, the CEO of Capital Football, is Richard Reid, John’s son and himself a former cricket representative.


The four Blairs playing for us are all Bob’s grandchildren, with three sons of Mike Blair and one of Dave Blair. While Dave never kicked a ball for us, Mike played for several years in the 3rd team in the 1980s, enjoying competitive games as a defensive midfielder and with a good social side in the clubrooms afterwards.


So, as well as having four Blairs currently playing top football for us, we’ve had four generations of the Blair family involved in playing for Petone and supporting the club in our last 70 years. That is definitely unprecedented and is worthy of much pride, in keeping with the football-focussed but family-based culture and history that we have nurtured for many years.

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