Golden Oldies rugby unofficially kicked off in the area in mid-1980s when retired players from two old foes, Omaha and Warkworth played the odd mid-week evening game followed by a bit of social time. Other ex-players of the Kaipara Flats club joined the Warkworth and Omaha players on the odd occasion that an outside visiting team would request a game.
When the Mahurangi Club was formed in 1989 the Golden Oldies took a little more structure under the guidance of Steven Postlewaight, but still only played a small number of games per year, mostly against visiting teams but a couple of memorable visits to the Tuakau Festival and Suburbs Club. The team was named Mahurangi Mussels.
Somehow, by default, Ken Bogue took over organising the Golden Oldies in 1994 when it was decided to submit an entry for the Golden Oldies World Festival that was to be held in Christchurch in 1995.
At this stage it was also decided that the Mahurangi Mussels should host their own annual mini-festival. Rather than provide the standard ‘tray of cans’ that other host clubs did to visiting teams, we decided, in keeping with our name, to provide freshly steamed mussels (by the barrow load) from our own cookers – it was a huge success.
Our first festival in May 1994 attracted 10 visiting Golden Oldies teams. The clubrooms were buzzing – live entertainment, presentations of ‘Dick of the Day’ and ‘Player of the Day’ to each team, the telling of a compulsory joke by each team, fresh snapper raffles, wheelbarrows full of hot steamed mussels and copious quantities of alcohol. The Mahurangi clubrooms had rarely seen such an event, and the stage was set. Over the following years the Mahurangi Mussels Festival became one of the highlights on the regions Golden Oldies calendar and at its peak hosted 20 visiting teams on the day to become the largest festival in the Auckland and North Harbour provinces.
In 1995, 18 players travelled to the World Festival in Christchurch for an absolutely magnificent week of rugby and camaraderie. The team registered again for the World Festival in Adelaide for 1999 but had to withdraw due to the economic climate in New Zealand at that time.
Over the years the Mahurangi Mussels attended numerous other mini-festivals on an annual basis, enjoyed many bus excursions to other individual clubs and hosted many visiting teams as well. A great relationship was struck with teams such as the Tikipunga Toothless Tigers, Eden Wanderers, Glenfield Grizzlies etc. 2 of our team actually travelled to the World Festival in Vancouver, Canada with the Eden Wanderers.
During the rugby season a monthly newsletter was sent to all members of the team to keep them informed of events.
Mahurangi Mussels supported other sectors of the club including the ladies team, for their club polo shirts, thejuniors in supplying practice balls for all teams and the purchase and installation of the wood fire in the clubrooms, to name a few projects.
After 6 years in the ‘seat’ Ken stepped aside. The ‘Mussels’ continued on but with a lack of new blood coming through and the increasing number of Presidents teams wanting to play Golden Oldies at a Presidents level, interest waned and the Mussels went into recess.
News that New Zealand was going to host another World Festival in Wellington in 2006 broke late in 2004. Ken was driving down the motorway when his cell phone rang. In a way that only Alan Berthelsen can do, Alan organised that Ken should co-ordinate the resurrection of the Mussels and the teams entry for Wellington. Everyone will pitch in and help Alan reassured. Tui’s – Yeah Right.
A few calls to some of the original group that travelled to Christchurch in 1995 confirmed there was good interest so it was decided to register and go for it. Bernie Kose agreed to assist Ken with the organising and in the end 28 players travelled to Wellington including Max Donnellan (74) in purple shorts, Alan Scott (68) in gold shorts and Ian Ward (60) in red shorts. A wonderful week was had by all.
2007 was a quiet year but through the enthusiasm of Bernie a number of games have been played in 2008. A resurgence is occurring and a whole new group of players have taken part in the last few games.