Phil joined the club’s junior ranks in 1959 and went on to represent Hutt Valley from under 12 through to under 16 age groups from 1962 through to 1967.
As a 17 year old, he became a junior team coach (and ‘Mr Pickering’ to a wide range of youngsters) for about 10 years, and was also a junior management committee member (initially along with his Mum) through to 1972. Phil was active in fund raising projects that were the norm in those days: such as bottle drives, house painting and raffle selling.
He made his debut in the 1st team with a game against Lower Hutt on Memorial No.1 at the end of the 1968 season, the inaugural year of Central League. He recalls in the years ahead receiving an envelope from time to time with a small win bonus paid by a club benefactor. In 1969, Phil was in the 2nd team that won the Division III Knock-out Cup and were semi-finalists (beaten by the 1st team) in the Hilton Petone Tournament. He went on to make 54 appearances for the 1st team, a figure that would have been higher had it not been for ongoing injury issues.
Phil’s injury cloud had a silver lining in that he took on the job of collecting the crates of flagons from the New Central Hotel every Saturday, and he still holds the unofficial world record for the number of flagons carried in a Hillman Minx – 120. The sing-songs that characterised the after-match functions in those days are legendary, as was Phil’s lead in ‘Mama don’t allow no guitar playing around here’.
Phil was an inaugural member of the Supporters’ Club, having been one of five club members who met and gained management committee approval to set it up in 1972. One of that Club’s first moves was to re-establish raffle sales at the New Central. The beer purchases from the New Central had no doubt helped with a foot in the door but the Manager was also our Patron. The money raised was much needed and Phil was involved in running the raffles for about 20 years, putting himself at risk on several occasions as he encouraged gang members to give back a meat pack that had been spirited away or as he dodged the flying glass from an axe-wielding rampage!
Phil served as Treasurer of the Supporters’ Club from 1972-81, Secretary 1975-77 and 1984-85, and as Chair 1980-81 and 1984-89. What this list of many years of very much hands-on service doesn’t show is not only the hundreds of hours the roles consumed, but the thousands of dollars raised to help fund our major projects and the tremendous social atmosphere that so many enjoyed.
In 1976, Phil, became the club’s first licensed bar manager and saw us through that learning period when much attention was being paid to sports clubs’ adherence to the new licensing regime. His contribution was substantial, especially in the years prior to the club manager’s appointment, when he looked after stock financials and serving. He set high standards for the club to strive to maintain, and held the position through to 1987 when his wife Pam became ill. As an aside, Phil’s role included that of dog control officer – a necessity at a time when a few club members liked to bring their extended families into the clubrooms!
A member of the Management Committee from 1978 to 1983, Phil was particularly helpful with numerous maintenance projects and ad hoc tasks like replacing the light bulbs in the gym on a swaying scaffold or fully extended ladder. In earlier years he had been a major contributor to the ditch digging for cables and installation of our No. 3 pitch floodlights.
From 1989 he was appointed as one of our two Directors on the Board of Hutt Valley United and he held this position for three years – a period which included some rather difficult circumstances that led to Petone’s withdrawal.
Phil was elected to life membership in 1989 in acknowledgement of his having been a player, a coach, and administrator for 31 years, but more particularly for the huge amount of work that Phil had crammed into the last 21 of those years.
In 1992, he became coach of the Women’s 1st team for two years, enjoying the opportunity to help a team that included both Sandra and Angela.
After that he had his first break from full-on involvement in 1995, when he spent time overseas supporting Sandra with her career, and he was regularly overseas from then until his permanent return in 2001.
In 2002, with son Jordan taking to the fields, Phil resumed junior team coaching and continued to coach Jordan’s team for another six years. The rejuvenation from that experience prepared Phil well for becoming involved with management of the 1st team from 2007, and he continues to fulfil the manager role.
In February 2004, the club was particularly indebted to Phil for his huge effort in dealing with the impact that major flooding in the area had on the ground floor of the clubrooms. The office, junior room, tuck shop, gear storage areas and the gym were inches deep in floodwaters which inflicted over $60k damage. Phil’s time and energy spent in returning the facilities to a usable state were vital and invaluable to us.
In the last 4 years or so Phil has taken it upon himself to do off-season turf maintenance on No.1 pitch after becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of attention shown to the ground. This attitude has seen Phil fulfil more tasks around the club than I can state here. He has been an active member of our club for 47 years and his contribution over that time has been absolutely exceptional.