You must remember this…
Memories of Magpie Country
Photographs by Paul Taylor
Words by Shane Hurndell
Reviewed by Grant Harding
MY INITIAL reaction after getting Memories of Magpie Country in my hands was to flick through its pages from start to ﬁnish.
After all, it is in essence a photographic essay of Hawke’s Bay club rugby, and looking at the 145 black and white pictures, rather than the accompanying essays, was the easier task.
By the time I had ﬁnished my ﬁrst perusal I was impressed – even a touch nostalgic.
This was modern club rugby – yet not at all removed from the game I knew nearly 30 years ago.
The multicultural mateship, all shapes and sizes, playing in all weathers, the joy of winning and the distress of losing, the passion of the supporters and their strange vantage points, the game’s workers, children everywhere – the seriousness of playing and following our national game for nothing but love.
In that ﬁrst ﬂick through I had smelt the liniment, the massaging hand, felt the exhilaration of running onto the ﬁeld, played the game to the best of my ability while taking the knocks, and had a puff on the smoke of the supporter beautifully captured under the stand. I was ready for the clubrooms.
In this, his ﬁrst book, Hawke’s Bay Today photographer Paul Taylor allies his outstanding lensmanship with his Hawke’s Bay passion for sport, and many of his images – black and white because they are the only colours that matter in Magpie country-speak.
Like Wairoa and Central taking the ﬁeld for a Ross Shield match – age them slightly and you have All Blacks of the future; former Hawke’s Bay player and coach Graham Lewis overseeing his grandchildren-passing on the love of the game; and lower grade rivals having a laugh mid-match – to keep their bodies and clubs going. This book, while mainly focused on premier club rugby, delves into all areas: Rippa, Ross and Wakely Shields, First XV, women‘s, age-grade and lower division.
Taylor has done well to include the latest Maddison Trophy ﬁnal on the inside and outside back cover, with All Black fullback Israel Dagg’s presence likely to catch the eye of World Cup visitors.
The punctuating essays, 11 in total, by Hawke’s Bay Today rugby writer Shane “Yours Truly” Hurndell showcase his intimate knowledge of the workings of, and characters within, all of Hawke’s Bay’s clubs. Rather than leaning on history, Hurndell, in his easy-to-read style, has gone for flavour, seeking out the essence of every club and highlighting the game’s servants. His ﬁrst essay, The Boys of the Back Blocks, is a superb wrap of the club scene’s minnows.
1963-70 All Black second-ﬁve Ian MacRae is the perfect choice to write the foreword, as he was always and has remained a dedicated servant of club rugby.
However, I do have to give the book one stiff arm tackle. There are a few proofing errors.
It can stand that criticism because it is a labour of love, totally local and a book that will surely be enjoyed by many in the club scene, and anyone with an interest in the game.
Copies can be bought on e-mail: memoriesofmagpiecountry[@]yahoo.com; by phoning Paul, (06) 844 6864, or Shane, (06) 844 3239, or through the website: [www].magpiecountry.co.nz. [Website address inactive 2016]
Paul’s photos will be exhibited from September 10 to the end of October at the Photographers Gallery Hawke’s Bay in Napier, where the books will be sold.
“In that first flick through I had smelt the liniment, the massaging hand, felt the exhilaration of running onto the field . . .”
Photo caption – WE’RE DONE: Shane Hurndell (left) and Paul Taylor check out Memories of Magpie Country which is ready for the Father’s Day market.
Photo caption – PHOTOS GALORE: Memories of Magpie Country takes a look at grassroots rugby in Hawke’s Bay.
The art of capturing moment
HAWKE’S BAY photographer Paul Taylor has been mad on the snapping game since he was 12.
“My dad Michael brought home a box full of stuff, took a photo of me and my sister, then went into the cupboard under the stairs and returned with a shiney black and white 10 x 8 print, I was hooked.” recalled Taylor.
He pottered with photography on and off until the mid 1990s when a knee injury cut short his amateur football career.
He began taking photographs of his former teammates and expanded this to a freelance career which included all levels of rugby league and a stint on the sidelines at the mighty Leeds United football club when they were a Premiership powerhouse.
“With all those negatives stored in boxes I always wanted to produce a book of images but never got around to it.” said Taylor who moved to Hawke’s Bay from Britain in 2004.
His idea for Memories of Magpie Country came after a premier match between Clive and Hastings Rugby and Sports played in atrocious conditions at Famdon Park.
“I thought the shots would look good together in a book.
“I got hold of Shane and developed the idea.” said Taylor referring to long-time Hawke’s Bay rugby writer Shane Hurndell who provided the captions as well as the essays on all of the Hawke’s Bay premier clubs and a wrap on all of the other clubs.
“Shooting sport is all about the passion, moments within the match that happen just once, when you capture that moment you have just frozen a bit of history forever, that’s the buzz,” added Taylor.
Hurndell and Taylor are hoping the book will be snapped up by Hawke’s Bay rugby fans as a Father’s Day gift and also by World Cup visitors to the province.