Our History

Supporters can help team achieve greatness

"A team is only as strong as the support offered by its fans"
These were the words of the late Des Queenin shortly after he was elected first president of the newly-formed Counties Rugby Supporters Club.

"The team needs support to give it the boost required to achieve greatness and the club needs members to ensure this will happen," added Des.

The club was formed in 1975 by Des and a handful of enthusiastic Counties rugby fans with the sole idea of supporting the Counties Rugby Union and its representative teams. The aim of the club was the same as the many supporters club around New Zealand and that was to provide a fun environment where members could gather after the game with members of the opposition's supporters and "re-live" the eighty minutes played by their teams.

The after-match functions too, were a great meeting place where supporters were able to mix freely with their team members. The Pukekohe Stadium became known nationwide for providing the "best after-match feeds'" of any union in the country.

Membership of the Supporters Club grew steadily, from the young and the not so young and from all walks of life, to around 400. The "Cool Cat' emblem was adopted as the official mascot and it became synonymous with the Counties side, particularly in the first five years when 'Cool Cat' led the team on to the field during what was probably the team's 'golden years. This was the beginning of the New Zealand Provincial Championship (now the ITM Cup).

The Supporters Club endeavoured to support the union at all levels of rugby, providing mementos for under 16 and under 18 representative sides; catering for Counties maori and the second XV teams; an acknowledging players who obtained higher honours.

A few highlights of the Counties Supporters Club's formative years were:
  • Instigating the highly successful Player of the Year dinners;
  • The spontaneous farewell under an arch of scarves at Christchurch Airport in 1978 after Counties had achieved a 'grand slam' tour of the South Island. They
  • played Otago, Southland and Canterbury for the first time since the union was formed in 1955, and beat the three of them.
  • Then who will forget the outstanding support given by Counties supporters to the 1979 team which won their first (and only) NPC title, winning every game except one, the Ranfurly Shield Challenge against Auckland at Eden park.This game, won narrowly 11-9 by Auckland, was compared to the English Football League as this game attracted 25,000 spectators which was pretty evenly shared by supporters of both sides. The atmosphere was electric and was not without controversy. It was however, a magnificent match and the red, black and white colours of the thousands of Counties rugby supporters ensured that the team would have a long-lasting following.

For the record, Anne McCort who had just become Counties Rugby Union's new secretary, joined Des Queenin on the Executive Committee of the Counties Rugby Supporters Club as treasurer and Marlene Graham, wife of the legendary Counties fullback, Jimmy Graham, was elected secretary.

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