The Gordon Stags attended the World Golden Oldies Festival in Wellington, New Zealand, and were greeted in fine style on a cold rainy day that left no doubt as to how the names “Windy Wellington” or “The Land of The Long White Cloud” came about. Though small on numbers we were big on enthusiasm and eager to get the festival under way.
The festival began with the opening ceremony, unfortunately because of the weather the parade of nations was cancelled and we proceeded directly to Te Pa, the New Zealand National museum, for the celebrations. It was a great evening with the food and drink flowing freely and was filled with many memorable moments and comments, including “We’re Famous!” from one kilt wearing Stag. The kilts and the sporrans were a hit prompting many requests for photos which were gladly traded for pins.
Teaming up with the Alice Springs Dingoes we played in 3 matches at various locations around Wellington during the week and proved to be a great bunch of guys to play rugby with. With the Dingoes providing the forwards and the Stags the backline we were a daunting site on the field. Luckily we all made it through the week unscathed expect for a few minor bumps and bruises as displayed by our new President, Bob Lollback. The Alice Springs Dingoes weren’t quite so lucky with one of their players breaking a leg and another a neck injury during the second match.
As you would expect the festival was well lubricated with Rugby players being renown for enjoying an ale or two. This was proved beyond doubt when the flight to New Zealand ran out of beer before row 23. Must have been those nervous first time travellers. The same continued at the grounds with the first batch of 45,000 cans of beer being consumed on the first day.
With free days to enjoy most made their way out and about Wellington for some sight seeing and a bit of fun. The discovery of an indoor go-carting venue was too much to resist for some of the guys and off they went in search of some thrills. Thinking they resembled Top Gun fighter pilots but looking more like they were going to be fired out of cannons the challenge was on. Needless to say, the driving was fairly reckless but a lot of fun. So much so that a return visit was made on the Saturday before the closing ceremony. It’s a good thing the guys at the centre were handy with a welder as they had to make a few running repairs and I’m sure they were glad to see us go.
So after a week of over indulgence it was time for one last night of partying at the Closing Ceremony. Before leaving the touring party all got together to present the game ball to Karl Houghton who was voted player of the festival, obviously no one else wanted to have to pack the football. The ceremony was held a short distance from the hotel in a giant marquee that was capable of holding the 4,000 players and 1,500 support staff that attended the event.
The closing ceremony was a great event with, once again, the food and drink flowing freely. The entertainment was first class with live music and other entertainers, a group favourite being LASERMAN (check out the video) who would bounce lasers off his mirrored suit out across the audience. The celebrations continued well into the night with many requests as to what was under the kilts and kicked on later at various venues around town. Needless to say the flight home was much more subdued than the one there.
Everyone enjoyed the festival and are all looking forward to wearing the Stags tartan proudly in Scotland during 2008.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this short write up of the Wellington Festival and will be putting more information, stories and photos up on the web site in the near future. We’d like all people who went on the tour to participate so if you have a story to tell and/or some photos please send them to us and we’ll make sure they get included.
For more photos be sure to check out our Photo Gallery