Words Adrian Morgan | Images Clare Toia-Bailey
Last Saturday, image central travelled out to Ranfurly on the Maniototo to capture the action in the Central Otago Premier Rugby semi-final. We had also arranged to meet Maniototo Rugby Club Life member Carol Dougherty. It’s a big day for Carol, her beloved Maniototo team is playing Clyde-Earnscleugh – captained by Carol’s grandson, Tom Dougherty.
Carol Dougherty, was made a life member of the Maniototo club in 2013. Last month Carol’s service to the club was recognised in a presentation ceremony following a successful White Horse Cup defence against Roxburgh. Carol has been unofficial Club videographer, historian, graphic designer and social media guru. She had recorded all but two Premier rugby matches since 1989 until her retirement this year. In recent years, she has been heavily involved in running the club’s facebook page and continues to provide the club with historical information and video content that would be the envy of many clubs.
After driving through a reasonable skiff of snow from the Oturehua turn-off, we arrive in Ranfurly and head out to Maniototo Park aka the “Offal Pit” – home of the Maniototo Maggots.
We approach the ground and see Carol waiting under the scoreboard with the Maggots logo (designed by Carol) featuring prominently. Due to the rain we move to the clubrooms to chat. As we enter the clubrooms Carol points out “Carol’s Corner” where a photoboard that was recently presented to her is displayed showing photos of Maniototo players but also featuring a shot of Carol taking a swig out of The White Horse Cup, Central Otago’s version of the Ranfurly Shield. The board was put together by the Club to acknowledge Carol’s long-term contribution when she announced her ‘retirement’.
The clubrooms were busy with volunteers cleaning up after earlier hosting a school boy game but we find a table and sit down to chat a bit more with Carol about her involvement with rugby in Maniototo. Carol picks up the story from here:
“It first started in the 1980s with the Gimmerburn-Patearoa team … We washed the jerseys and cooked meals. We raised enough money to buy the team a new playing kit.”
In 1998, Gimmerburn-Patearoa and Ranfurly Clubs amalgamated to become Maniototo Rugby Club and it was about this time the jerseys started going to the laundry which was “a great relief,” laughs Carol.
In 1989, Carol picked up her first video camera and started putting together highlights packages for all the Premier games. “I loved doing the editing, then I’d transfer to video then DVD”. She also created a website for the videos and then moved to posting footage on the club’s Facebook page. When Carol signed off from administering the club facebook page she said,
“I have been doing something that I so loved. … especially all the fine young men I have had the pleasure to meet and who have put up with me and my camera, treating me with so much respect, it all adds up to 27 seasons and 4 video cameras later the most wonderful time of my life.”
A major highlight for Carol was seeing a fifth generation Dougherty playing rugby. Her grandson, Tom, played the 2015 season with Maniototo when the Clyde-Earnscleugh senior team went into recess for a season. But in this game Tom is back playing for Clyde-Earnscleugh and is the captain. So today, Carol has a foot in both camps. She says, “My heart is with Maniototo but my Tom is playing for Clyde.”
It’s coming up to the start of the game so we head out of the clubrooms toward the ground which is now fully encircled with cars, farm utes and rain coat clad spectators. There is plenty of local interest and good turnout of Clyde supporters with high hopes.
It’s chilly, maybe 1-2 degrees, but the sky has cleared and even lets a few rays of sun through for a short time. In the distance we hear the starting whistle for kick off. “They are underway!” Carol exclaims. We exchange farewells and Carol scuttles off with some urgency – she’s not used to missing any of the action.
The Maggots are superb in initial exchanges and are rewarded with a try to first five-eight Jack Wild. But Clyde come back strongly and dominate possession and territory for much of the remainder of the game. Clyde turn down a couple of penalty shots in front of the sticks, instead backing themselves to get over for a five pointer. In the last 10 minutes, following a sustained period of pressure, Clyde is awarded a scrum in the centre of the field, 5 metres from the Maniototo line. The scrum is fed, the ball comes out and is fired out the Clyde-Earnscleugh backline. It goes through a few sets of hands before Carol’s grandson, Tom, bursts onto the ball at pace. He crashes into the Maniototo first five-eight and over the line. There’s a huge cheer from the Clyde camp and it looks like he’s over the line, but did he get it down? The ref consults the touch judge and calls a knock on in goal. No try!
Clyde continues to mount attack after attack but the Maniototo defence is a brick wall. The big Maggot forward pack looks out on their feet but still manage to keep out everything Clyde throws at them. And they throw everything they’ve got. Full time is up and Maniototo get the ball from a scrum and quickly hack it into touch and the final whistle is blown. The Maniototo players look more relieved than excited to have won.
As the players walk off the field, Maniototo Captain, Quinton Smith, seeks out Carol for a hug. It’s a sweet gesture and you could see the genuine affection between them. It symbolises the reason why Carol has dedicated so much of her time. As she explained to us earlier…
“I just love the boys, and they have treated me so well …”
With a rugby mad husband (Lawrence) and four cricket and rugby mad sons (Larry, Steve, Greg and Paul), Carol’s life has revolved around sport. If you had played rugby or cricket in Central Otago in the last 30 years, it’s likely that you would have come up against or been coached by one of the Dougherty boys.
Carol has been involved all the way, she’s been in the changing rooms, on the bus trips and at the after match functions. Sometimes players would have few too many drinks and Carol says with a laugh;
“I never really knew who would be in my spare beds on a Sunday morning”.
But even before the boys came on the scene Carol was a keen sports person. Carol briefly explains that she played hockey and tennis and held a Otago athletics record in the discus. Carol says she was coached by her father to throw discus and also received some coaching tips from Commonwealth Games Gold medallist and multiple Olympian, the late Robin Tait.
The next morning we receive a Facebook message from Carol. She said her son, Larry, had asked what we had been talking about and checked whether Carol had mentioned she was a life member (no, she didn’t) and also if she had mentioned that she had also been a NZ Hockey trialist (nope, no mention either!).
We did a bit more research and found that Carol was also part of the Maniototo hockey team that was pretty handy back in the day. Between 1957 and 1964 Maniototo won the K-Cup (national women’s title) in 1957, 1960 and 1964 and shared the title with Auckland in 1961. Carol played in three of these winning teams. In a series about the greatest moments in Otago sport run by the Otago Daily Times the Maniototo hockey team’s achievement from this time came in at no. 86 in the top 150. But for the Maniototo area it must surely be no. 1. The tradition continues with granddaughter, Tory Dougherty, who is coaching manager for the Otago Hockey Association at the McMillan Hockey Turf in Dunedin.
Carol has given so much of her time to the club on a voluntary basis, consistently and for a long period of time. Her contribution is certainly inspiring. She has done it all for the love of her boys and the club.
When Maniototo take on Cromwell in the Central Otago Premier Rugby final in Alexandra this weekend, the boys will know that their number one fan is right behind them.
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