The Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines tournament takes place this weekend at that most hallowed of sports grounds, Eden Park. (Go the Warriors, just quietly!) Last year was the inaugural tournament and in the lead-up, I took a nostalgic look back, via our family history blog Kintalk, at the old league ground, Carlaw Park. Now, we're skipping across town to the tournie venue itself - the stadium where that girl-and-boy-crush Richie McCaw held the Webb Ellis trophy aloft at the Rugby World Cup Final in 2011 - Eden Park.
The park began as a cricket ground in 1903, and was due to the vision of one Harry Ryan, a cricket enthusiast who approached landowner John Walters to lease part of his land as a sports field. In the book Eden Park: A History, the authors write, "Certainly the rough paddock strewn with stones, studded with outcrops of rock and streaked with cowpats, falling away to a boggy trough that filled in a downpour and remained flooded throughout the winter, looked better suited to frog-hunting or duck-shooting than cricket, let alone rugby. Ryan knew or at least imagined better." That bit of land was in fact located just up the road from Cabbage Tree Swamp, now Gribblehirst Park.