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The Bookfellow, Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 68, 20 March 1909
' . 1 (Written _o_ tlie " Auckland Star ** I by A. 6. Stephens.) (Copyright. All rights reserved.) NEW ZEALAND EOOTBAIi. [James Duncan, 35 years of age, born at Roslyn, Dunedin, of Scottish, parents, Is the most prominent representative of foot- ' ball In New Zealand. He lives still In Dunedin, employed and employer in his trade of harness piaking. Of middle I height and weight, ruddy - haired, blue - eyed, he Is the most alive man I have met in New Zealand. Full of eager strength; both quick and stubborn; with the Celt predominating j in an admirable blend ot races. Now in his life's prime, though past his prime for football, he is a Kan whom any connolsIsenr of men would look at with pleasure. He began serious football at fifteen; soon became captain of his club, the Kaikorai, of Dunedin, which presently headed club football in Otago; then, during many years, was captain" of the provincial team of Otago, and led New Zealand footballers to Australia; finally, closing his active carI eer as a player, he went as coach with the , All Black team to Britain. He is now a member of the N.Z. Referees' Association, [and in football there Is no higher Individual authority than hls.J Said Jimmy Duncan:' I No. I don't think Australians will | ever equal New Zealand at football, and I'll tell you my reason. The hard ground in Australia; that's the reason; I've turned it over and over in my mind, and that's the reason I find. Cm that Sydney ground a man can't throw himself about; he can't stand being knocked about; and either he gets cautious or be gets such a doing that he has to retire just when he's turning out a player. They've got the men in Australia—big men, fast men, and it's only a matter of training. But it takes years to make a player, no matter how smart you are. Well, five or six years. It's like learning a trade; you can't know everything all at once; you've got to educate your brains to make a footballer. When 1 started football, I thought I knew a lot about it; -.but five or six years later 1 could see I'd been quite ignorant. And that's what's the trouble with the Australian players. They don't get time to mature. Just when they're commencing to be plaj-ers they have to retire; the hard ground has taken too much out of them. Or else they've learned to be cautious, and that spoils them. I remember the first match I played on that Sydney ground. I did nothing out of the ordinary; but next day I was stiff with bruises. When you've been thrown down a few times on your hip or your shoulder on that ground you feel pretty bad. It struck all our chaps the same way. The first match they play a lively game, just as they do in New Zealand, not caring how they fall; but the second match you see them quite different; they dodge the falls; they've been shaken up too much. So that in Australia, to my mind, the men can't last long enough to get a real knowledge of the game. It's not coach-. ing; you can coach any lot of players, if I you have time; it's the hard ground. In New Zealand we fall softer, so we can afford to take more risks, and you've got ] to take risks in football. No, I do not think the game is as good as it used to be in New Zealand—nor j the players, take them all round. The young fellows don't take the same interest in it; they're not so keen. When I was a youngster I'd often lie awake half the Friday night—couldn't go to sleep, figuring out things in my head—making plans, you understand, for next day's match. They take it more as a matter of course, nowadays—not so keen as they used to be. No, I don't think the breed is poorer in that way; they're stronc enough physically. Only they don't put their backs into it; they're slack. And 1 wouldn't put it down to beer and cigarettes; they don't make any difference in mod- ration. I always ate and drank just what I fancied, and it did mc good. If a man has to be over careful about his food there's something wrong with him. Well, I think it's the easy life—it must be. They're not brought up as strictly as we were; they haven't had the discipline, and so they're not able to discipline themselves. It goes all through, you know. In my trade of harness-making it's the hardest thing in the world to get good mcn — men that will go into their work with pleasure, as if they liked it. Yes, you can say the same tiling about all trades. I Yes, you can sqg the same thing about
Otago. And about New Zealand, that's my belief. The men now are a lot slacker; the quality of the work is going down all round. It is a big thing to say; but I believe it's true. True of tha young fellows, anyway. They've been brought up too easy—l don't know; there's some-thing wrong. Perhaps the labour laws have something to do with it. The minimum wage. In our trade it's £2 10/ —What's the result? The bosse3 won't pay more, and the best men have to come down to the level of the worst. The unions don't like good men; they don't like to see a man going ahead and doing better than his mates; they do their best to keep all on the same level. And, as the duffers can't rise to a higher level, it follows that the good men sink to the level of the duffers, doesn't it? Anyway, that's how it works out. Tha easy life, that's what they're looking for. a Football's the same as everything else. They don't go into it as if they meant it —not the same as they used to. There's plenty of room to improve in other ways. Take the rules. Of course, uley are out of date. Made B.C. 55, or something like that; and you can't get the Rugby Union to alter them. And there's some rules you can't get a sensible meaning out of. Others might have done all right a hundred years ago, but they don't do now. They're against the development of the game, And the English won't alter them—too conservative—what's good enough for their fathers Is good enough for them. Well, New Zealand is tha leading football country now; that's why I say we should take a hand and improve the game in the light of modern playing— it could be made a lot better, both lor players and spectators. The English? Well, I went as coach with the All Blacks' team; but I dropped it. There wasn't any coaching needed. No scheming. We didn't meet a team. The way we piled up points showed that. Towards the end of the tour they commenced to take lessons and play up a bit; but they don't play football as we play it. Stoddart's team taught us the game; but now we can teach England, Play—and rules. The best team we met was the Irish; their forwards were really, good. The Welsh were all right; but you know how stale our men were when they got to Wales—it stands to reason. Why, Macdonald went to bed on tha Saturday after the matcb, and didn't get up till Wednesday—that shows yon the condition we were in, when a man lies in bed four days after a mat—p.. The best back I ever knewT Joe Warbrick. Never a man to beat him', as an all-round player. Jackettl _L good man, but I didn't think too much of him. I'd have bumped him every tinw—gone down with him, and put him. out of play. That's where team play comes in—letting the other fellows score. I was never % solo player; but my -beam got the points. The best forward I ever knew? Barney, O'Dowd, of Taranaki —I never saw his equal, in a scrum or out of it. And Davy, Gallaher—he always gave mc a lot ofi trouble when I was playing against him. Best half-back? Pat Keogh, of men of the past, and Roberts to-day. Keogh was simply a football genius. Tricks! He was all tricks—and tricks that scored. You couldn't tell what he was going to do—l don't believe he knew himself till he came to it. Of course, there have been lots of other good men, in all places on tbe field; I'm just picking tbe champions as they seem to me—those I've seen and played with. Well, there bas been rough play; but we're doing away with it. I believe in making the game pure sport; and with good rules, there's a great future before it. The Referees'-A.'ssooiHtion'is.down on anything like foul play, and we're going to make things better. CHOR-vL S_NG_NG. Conductor Thomas, of the Royal Welsh, Male Choir, wears a medal inscribed with the words used by Sir Joseph Barnby in awarding a competitive prize to .his choir: "The best choral singing I ever heard in my life." The Welsh Chok comes from Rhonnda Valley, near Cardiff; numbers a score of singers; and ia now touring New Zealand. Said Mr. Thomas: — • There are ifour parts in a. modern mala choir—first tenor, second tenor, first bass, second bass. Formerly the alto made a fifth part, which, now ds xarelyi included. I have conducted as many aa 200 in a choir; but bhe principle of composition is always the same—you striva for the equal balance of parts, so that the voices, when not in' contrast, will blend harmoniously in unison. Soma critics have said that the basses in our* choir are too prominent; others that ths tenors are too prominent. It may seemed so; but since we are past 170 per* formances on the present tour, it is un< likely to be so—or we -should have found it out long before. A great deal dependr on the position of the auditor. Tht, acoustics of the halls we sing in vary & great deal, and a great deal depends upon the place you occupy an the hall. The; best place is a little forward of the centre, so that voices, singing against each other, will strike the ear as one. Then you have choral harmony. The object of choral singing is to musically display the words—the music is the handmaid of the words. Thus, an audience that does not understand Welsh certainly loses the shades of expression when we sing in Welsh. It may hear a succession of hannoniousounds; but the office of these sounds is to interpret the words, and when you do not understand the words you must , lose something of the value of the sing. I ing. It is the same with all languagef. foreign to you, to be sure. The first thing in choral singing is th*r | rendering, the expression of the words. 'If that is not done, nothing is done. Tcget that you must sing with heart, with feeling, and you must grip the notes, not | merely utter them, lou must sing; yes. And in the singing, the parts must be perfectly balanced, so that when all the choir is singing, the voices strike the ear as the voice of one man. Then they must sing in tune and in time, of course, preserving the correct intonation, so that the pitch of the music is maintained to the ear; and in practice one ear helps another. So that a choir, or the parts of a choir, will rarely sing sharp or flat all at once. One voice will lead them alittle wrong, then a little more wrong; 3"ou can hear them falling or rising from the pitch, gradually. That, el course, is a bad fault. A choir is what the conductor makeit, yes. The choir is just the clay which the conductor can model as he chooses, or as he is able. And you can tell from a choir's singing just what the conductor is worth—yes, in the first half-dozen bars of a piece you can hear the conductor— when the choir sings the music it singthe conductor, sure. Sometimes you can hear that he has been trying to teach, them how to sing the music, and they have not yet grasped it. And then in the performance, when the choir has learned all that it can, the best conductor is the man who encourages them to give out all that is in them—he must lift up their hearts if they need jt. With the baton, yes —the baton is not merely, to mark time. And with the face and the eye, with all his soul and stiengtl-—< yes, sttr«, - —■—^^-~-
The Bookfellow, Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 68, 20 March 1909
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