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Giants reach the big Five-O

By Gary Caffell

The fact they have survived long enough to celebrate their 50th anniversary this coming weekend is a huge triumph for the Masterton-based Giants Softball Club.

Over a period where as many as 27 softball clubs have operated in the Wairarapa, they are the only ones left standing, and have been for several years now.

And what’s more, their future continues to look bright with their under-13, under-15, under-17, major B women and President’s grade teams competing with success in Hutt Valley competitions and their premier three men’s team likewise in their Inter-City series which involves teams from both Wellington and Hutt Valley.

Ask current president Allan Clarke why Giants have lasted while so many other clubs have fallen by the wayside and he has a simple answer — administration.

“It’s got harder and harder to find people willing to do the organisation, and I know softball isn’t the only sport which has suffered in that respect,” Clarke said.

“Players are quite happy to front up and play but when it comes to doing the work to keep things going they tend to disappear.”

While he is typically loathe to sing his own praises, Clarke himself can take considerable credit for the Giants remaining a formidable force on the softball scene.

Of the 50 years they have been in existence he has held the presidency for 37 of them — not all of them successive — but he is adamant this will be his last season in the role.

“Honestly, it’s time to call it quits,” he said.

“I still love the game but when it comes to running the show I have to admit to not enjoying it as much as I once did, and when that happens you should always step aside.

“I’ve done my bit, now others can have a crack.”

Clarke recalls Giants first having their headquarters at Harley Street School, the venue at which the meeting to officially form the club was held in June 1967.

Then came a brief stint at Hullena Park before they became ensconsed at South Park in 1983, with the lime diamond being installed there some six years later.

Over the half-century, many outstanding players have worn their colours with the likes of Dennis Russell, Jimmy Cotter and Malcolm Namana going on to represent New Zealand.

The club has also regularly acquired the services of  overseas “imports”, 27 of them at last count from countries such as Canada, United States and Australia.

The “imports” not only helped raise the standard of play through their own individual skills but they were excellent role models for youngsters aspiring to make a name for themselves in the sport.

On the competition front, Giants teams have won many titles since finishing runners-up in the Wairarapa senior men’s series in their inaugural year with perhaps the two most notable victories coming in 2004-05 and 2006-07 when they were crowned premier men’s champions for the Hutt Valley.

Several of their players have repped for Hutt Valley at national inter-provincial level.

Another highlight for Giants came in 1982 when a party of 29 toured the United States, playing a number of games.

This weekend’s celebrations will commence with a “meet and greet” at the Kuripuni Tavern Sports Bar tomorrow night while all Giants teams will be involved in inter-club matches at South Park on Saturday from 10am through to 3pm.

Saturday night will see the anniversary dinner at Copthorne Solway Park with over 80 people in attendance.

Speakers will include ex-Black Sox Naomi Shaw on behalf of Softball New Zealand and Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson.

On Sunday, there will be the taking of photographs, a barbecue and some social games at South Park.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Great to see this mentioned in the Times Age and what a great weekend it was for Giants Softball to celebrate their 50th anniversary

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