Four of the original Nelson men’s hockey team from the first Maadi Cup tournament in 1951 were on hand for a reunion of past players during the 2016 tournament at Saxton Field over the weekend. They are, from left, Ralph Davies, Kelvin Ching, Eric Parker and Frank Black. Photo: Jacob Page.

Nelson’s Maadi Cup originals back where it all started

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Four members of Nelson’s inaugural Maadi Cup hockey team of 1951 returned to the tournament at the Saxton Hockey Turf over the weekend.

Ralph Davies, Eric Parker, Kelvin Ching and Frank Black were all part of the Nelson team which won the first ever tournament in “atrocious” conditions on home soil.

“It was so cold I couldn’t pick up the ball for the roll out,” Ralph says. “We had long socks at the start of the tournament but they had shrunk to just above our ankles by the  end of it.”

Nelson’s Jarod Jones looks to evade a Buller defender during the Maadi Cup men’s competition at Saxton Hockey Turf on Saturday. Photo: Chris Symes/Shuttersport.
Nelson’s Jarod Jones looks to evade a Buller defender during the Maadi Cup men’s competition at Saxton Hockey Turf on Saturday. Photo: Chris Symes/Shuttersport.

The trophy has been competed for annually ever since between Marlborough, Buller and West Coast and was gifted as a memorial to men and women killed in world wars.

Eric remembers the inaugural team having some quality players in their ranks, but when it comes to genetics he may have won the battle.

Eric’s father Godfrey played hockey for Nelson in 1920 and Eric’s four sons have all played Maadi Cup hockey for Nelson over the years.

Ralph was just 20 during the first Maadi Cup but went on to captain Nelson in 1958 and 1959, playing matches against Australia, India, Pakistan and New Zealand during the time where hockey was being played on grass at Trafalgar Park.

All four men agreed the game was much faster now that it’s played on a synthetic surface.

“It’s a free-for-all now,” Ralph says. “The ball is in the air a lot, you can raise your stick more than we ever did.

More than 40 former Nelson Maadi Cup players were welcomed to a reunion during the weekend.

Meanwhile, on the turf, the Nelson men won back the Maadi Cup with two wins and a draw.

The crucial match of the tournament came in the opening game against West Coast when the home team was able to battle back from 2-0 down with 10 minutes remaing and earn a 2-2 draw.

An 11-3 win over Marlborough and a 6-2 triumph over Buller was enough to see them take the trophy from the Coasters on goal differential.

Captain Paul Muncaster says his players benefited from extended minutes in the last two games after a slow start in game one.

“I think guys were getting five to seven minutes on the turf at a time and that wasn’t enough, so we changed that to 10 to 15 minutes in the other two games.

Paul praised the efforts of Toby Bowden and Jarod Jones through the tournament.

Nelson’s senior women’s team found the going tougher at the Pope Shield tournament.

Nelson drew with West Coast 4-4 and lost to front runners Marlborough 6-3 before hammering Buller 10-2.

The women’s B team beat Marlborough 3-1 and West Coast 7-1 in an unbeaten Gladstone Cup campaign.