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Doing it for Russell

The inaugural Giants premier one team. Denis Russell is seated, far right. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Giants honour club great with big win

SOFTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

The sudden death of one of Giants’ greats spurred the club’s Premier Threes to a stylish win over Tawa on Saturday.

Denis Russell, of Featherston passed away, aged 78, in Wairarapa Hospital on Friday night and the team played the game in honour of the man who founded the club in 1967.

Russell was the club’s first player to represent New Zealand and their first life member.

He played one game in centre field for the national team against the San Antonian All Stars at Athletic Park Wellington in 1968.

The late Jimmy Cotter and Malcolm Namana are the other Giants’ players to have represented New Zealand at the highest level.

Fellow life member Allan Clarke recalled that Russell arrived in Masterton in 1966 and originally played for the United club.

FLASHBACK: Denis Russell cutting the cake at the Giants’ 40th anniversary function in 2007. PHOTO/FILE

“He said to me that we needed another club in town and from that we formed Giants. He was the actual founder of the club” he said.

Russell also represented Wairarapa for many years before he moved out of the district.

Clarke said he later found Russell living in Manawatu and he started playing for Giants again.

“He travelled from Palmerston North each week to play for the Presidents’ team and he did so until 1992,” Clark said.

“He was a great base runner, and that was what got him into the New Zealand side. He would come off the diamond at the end of a game with skin missing all over his body.”

Clarke said a tribute for Russell will be held before the start of the Giants match with the Canadian Under-18 side at South Park tomorrow evening.

Russell’s death gave the club’s Premier Three side all the motivation they needed to put away Tawa 19-0 in their top of the table clash at Redwood Park.

Tawa had inflicted the only loss on Giants in the first round, but they didn’t stand a chance against an on-fire Giant’s team, with the game ended after five innings.

Giants’ president and team member Chris Feary said, “we smoked them”.

“Tony [Nixon] was on fire on the mound and anything they hit we gobbled up” he said.

“We tore them to bits with our batting. We scored four runs in our first turn at bat and it just escalated from there” Feary said.

“Terry Waitere hit two automatic home runs and everybody else batted solid, but basically it was all round power batting.”

The win guarantees Giants a semifinal spot and probably home advantage.

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