How it all began...
THE HISTORY OF TE ATATU RUGBY LEAGUE CLUB
Jack Colvin Park is perched beside the North-Western motorway on Te Atatu Peninsula.
The impressive rugby league clubrooms are familiar to motorists who, on winter weekends, are likely to see hundreds of supporters cheering the Te Atatu Roosters in their blue, red and white jerseys.
Te Atatu's beginnings were humble and founded on a burning ambition to have a rugby league presence in the area. The organisation began playing under the wing of the Glenora Rugby League Club in 1955 with a seven-a-side schoolboy team coached by Life Member Ken Pittman. It played under the Glenora banner until 1959 when Waitemata Mayor Jack Colvin helped it get permission to develop its own playing fields in conjuction with the Te Atatu Amateur Athletic Club.
The result was the club's first home at Ramlea Park, in Taikata Road.
A little later in the year it became affiliated to the Auckland Rugby League as Te Atatu Rugby League Club. By 1960 members knew they needed a bigger site to house the growing numbers who wanted to play. They spotted an overgrown patch of land with a small stream running through it, nestled beside the new north-western motorway. It was known as the Titoki and Toru Streets Reserve and was regarded by the county clerk as a poor site for development. It was in such terrible condition that other clubs had been put off applying for it. Pittman's description of the club, in its 1976 anniversary programme summed up the positive mood among members and the toughness of the task that lay ahead.
" What a mess, over six acres of swamp, gorse and pine trees, five feet thick. Well, we were all enthusiastic and silly enough to attempt the impossible. We chopped, scrounged, swore, drank and burned our way through the lot."
The council helped by putting in a culvert under the motorway and realigning the creek. But the task faced by the fearless foundation members was still Herculean.
Among the hundreds of volunteers owed a lifetime of debt are; Tom Hetherington, Eric Draper, Joe Hauraki, Ernie Rainbow, Peter Pittman, Buddy Jones, Harry McWilliams, Jim Denyer and Pat Fairweather.
The playing fields were finally established and attention turned to creating lasting, quality clubrooms. The two-storey building in use today took over six years to complete, from the first foundation stone that was laid on December 17, 1962.
The clubrooms were officially opened on April 19, 1969 by the MP Martin Finlay.
Jack Colvins' efforts in getting the land from an unsympathetic council were rewarded when the park was named after him in 1972.
Why the original members called themselves the Roosters is still not totally clear.
The English translation of Te Atatu is 'the early morning' and roosters are renowned as early risers but the more common theory is that the playing jerseys were nearly identical to those of the former Eastern Suburbs Roosters Club, now called the Sydney City Roosters.
Te Atatu was a trend setting club when it came to travelling to play rugby league in New Zealand and Australia. It was the first Auckland Club to compete in Blenheim when Marlborough Rugby League reformed in 1974, and the 1968 Senior Team was the first New Zealand Team to play on Norfolk Island.
Te Atatu has produced 12 Kiwis through its history from the unforgettable Dennis Williams in 1971 to Shontayn Hape in 2004.
John Wilson, John Smith, Dean Orr, Ron O'Regan, Sam Panapa, Mark Horo, Peter Brown, Mark Elia, Henry Paul and Robbie Paul have all worn the famous black jersey with the white V.
THE YOUNGEST EVER KIWI....
Of these great players the gifted five-eighth Dennis Williams reigns supreme.
He wore Rooster colours between 1959 and 1980 from the age of four and was years ahead of his peer group. He made his Auckland senior debut at 14 and became the youngest Kiwi when he was selected on the triumphant 1971 tour to Great Britain aged 17.
In his first test on that tour he scored a brilliant solo try with his first touch and ended up playing 31 times for the Kiwis between 1971 and 1981. In 1975 he became the youngest player to captain the Kiwis when he led them against Wales.
Dennis went on to coach at the club and continues to support his club today. He is sometimes seen at prize-givings or special occasions and he tries to catch some games throughout the season, especially the 'Clash of the West' game against Glenora because the winner gets to hold the Dennis Williams Trophy for the year.
The Masters competition started about 1995 and they have now taken over the role that Old Boys have in many sports clubs. They do fundraising, have regular meetings and still play at the club today.
THE FOX MEMORIAL TROPHY....
This is what Auckland Rugby League is all about; it is THE TROPHY that the teams in Auckland Rugby League strive to win. Te Atatu won the Trophy in 1988 and has continued to be a serious contender for it throughout the years.