If you remember Cabbage Tree Swamp, just off Sandringham Road and within a stone's throw of Eden Park, you would have to be 80 years of age, or older. The area had been originally owned by a Mr Gribble and Mr Hirst and was given by them to the local council in the 1920s. During the late 20s the swamp was reclaimed and turned into a sports field and naturally enough named Gribblehirst Park. In 1930 it became the home ground of the Eden Rugby Football Club, although their headquarters remained at 12 Parrish Road, a street running off Sandringham Road opposite Gribblehirst Park.
But to put all of this into perspective, you have to go back to February 2, 1922, to a meeting held in the Druids Hall, above the Hellaby's Butchery on the corner of Walters Avenue and Dominion Road. It had been called by Arthur Fellowes to form a rugby club during times when there was a paucity of senior sides playing for the new symbol of Auckland club rugby, the Gallagher Shield.
The newly elected committee, whose subsequent meetings were held in the bootmaker's shop of Lou Gunning in the Valley Road shops, wasted no time in forming the eighth side to compete for the trophy, and six other sides were soon wearing the new green jersey with the white band. These colours were eventually changed to today's yellow and blacks hoops so as not to confuse Eden teams with North Shore
Significantly, when the idea was first mooted at the Druids Hall meeting, the name adopted was the Roskill Rugby Club, but within three weeks, it had changed to Eden, due it seems in some part to Eden Park being made available for their home games. It had also been suggested that the name might come because there had been problems within the Edendale Hockey Club of the day, because their playing members wanted to switch to rugby. Stan Foster remembers the Parrish Road property well. Before the establishment of the clubrooms and training shed at No 12 in 1925, built for 645 pounds, the club's application to build their clubrooms at Eden Park had been rejected by the Auckland Rugby Union committee of the day.
Eden club teams had trained and used the Newton Rugby Club's Virginia Avenue property. But once set up the Parrish Avenue property became very popular. Both University and Grammar Old Boys rugby trained there and North Auckland, during their visits to Auckland, also joined in. There was a problem at Parrish Road that grew with the local population. The training shed was built of corrugated iron and when struck by balls kicked in training the noise was deafening. The more neighbors complained the more determined the club became in their desire to shift lock, stock and barrel to Gribblehirst Park. The Parrish Road property was sold in 1958 and the clubrooms demolished to be carried piece by piece across the road by members themselves. The huge roof beams, such a significant part of Parrish Road, were toted over and are a notable feature of the new clubrooms at Gribblehirst Park, which were officially opened on August 16, 1958. All Blacks, Bruce McLeod, Frank McMullen, Ron Urlich, Ron Dobson and Hud Rickett have played in Eden's colours, although not at the time they were selected.
The sides at Eden Rugby Club reflect a strong mulit-cultural grouping of Europeans, Maoris, Polynesians and Asians all proud to be associated with the club. Although this generation of players may support the 'blue and white' hoops of Auckland, the 'sky blue' of the Blues and the 'almighty black' of the Allblacks, they all proudly wear the yellow and black hoops of the Eden Rugby Football Club.
EDEN RUGBY CLUB —— located at Gribblehirst Park off Sandringham Road (and just down the road from the great Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand)