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A GREAT PLAYER.

TRIBUTE TO W. CUNNINGHAM. J. W. STEAD'S MEMORIES. (By Telegraph.—Special to "Star.") INVERCARGILL, this day. The following tribute is paid to the Ifcte W. Cunningham (deputy captain of "All Blacks" 1905), by his friend and associate, _*r. J. W. Stead, Invercargill. "I temember well my first glimpse of "Cunny." I had joined up with the All Blacks 1904 at Dunedin after their not too successful preliminary matches in New South Wales. AH. Bayly (manager) wa3 in doleful mood, because they had not managed to get a scrum. "Cunny" was wired for from Auckland, and I .bad the pleasure meeting him in the large shed in Wellington where I (along with the forwards, I think) was first initiated into the mysteries of the Ellison scrum, and there was a general consensus of opinion that he was the Wan we wanted for .our big tour. We got him, a few ha-e given him credit for his share in that historic tour, I go further and say that he was the man who assured the success of the trip. Few would credit his patient yet finft handling in perfecting the scrum, the like of which I have not seen since, nor before either. I became his bedmate for the following eight ■ months, and knew every forward from this great lock's point of view. Early in «very game he was anxious to know that every forward was comfortable in the Wriun. He was .-. candid outspoken critic, who commanded the respect even 01 those he had to reprimand. .. "f * most modest, almost reserved ewposition, he was the dry "wit" of the warn, w ]j o wa ited expectantly for what "Old Bill" had to say on the subject in »nd. We all remember hie imperson«ion of Lord Montcalm at a fancy dress «»11 on the Rimutaka, when he did more wan his share towards its great success. j» the tour progressed our pockets got ■ugnter and the increasing volume of souvenirs, clothes, etc., made "packing" »» art, and here the great 'lock" showed *» one weakness, he could pack a scrum ont not a suitcase, so he arrived back Ir °m a second-hand shop in Leeds with •tin trunk (no hinges on the lid) a »« of rope and tin of paint. Tie wttnk duly got its two coats of enamel, ■**" put up on the roof to dry, and was Promptly well wrapped up by two other •*gß in a newspaper. He took the joke **«» and was from then on the proud Possessor of the most distinctive bit of joggage in the party. Every shift on ™ * new town, and* we would be sure J' * fair crowd in to our room to see funny" rope his trunk for the journey, 'wtunately he had a Maori vocabulary ™ fall back on, but one could fill a book Wl ** his witticisms. Some six years later we were both "»entbers of the 1910 Maori team, which |°"«d Australia and the South Island, ttrt ** lived afresh the memories of ""■previous lour. The slowest man in li >c team. J ie y.-t knc.v all the slmr:

cuts. Under the average height on a line out, yet no man ever beat him, a genius in scrum, no need to tell him when to keep the ball "or let it out. Am I wrong in saying that his death removes the greatest lock the Dominion ever possessed? He had three intuitions as far back as November 1904, that Wales would beat us, that war would occur between England and Germany within ten year 3, and that he would not live to get the old age pension. How lamentably true. How hard to write the innate qualities of this Nature's ger.tlema'n, a hard but clean player, respected and appreciated by opponents, and adored by his intimates. He goes West leaving us the poorer by his departure.".

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19270906.2.176

Bibliographic details

A GREAT PLAYER., Auckland Star, Volume LVIII, Issue 210, 6 September 1927

Word Count
641

A GREAT PLAYER. Auckland Star, Volume LVIII, Issue 210, 6 September 1927

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