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An all-rounder with a sporting spirit

OBITUARY: Dick Carr.

Dick Carr was an all-round sportsman who played the game in the right spirit.

A talented footballer, cricketer and golfer, he embodied the ideals of sportsmanship, courage and enthusiasm.

Richard George Carr died at home in Gisborne this month at the age of 92.

Born in Wellington on August 2, 1927, Dick was raised there but tried to leave the capital prematurely. He was 14 when he and his elder brother Jack tried to join the army in 1941. They were turned down.

Dick played football for the Wellington Waterside Club and was 20 when the first team had its Chatham Cup run in 1947. He was at rightback when they won the North Island final 2-1 against North Shore in Auckland.

Coach Alf Longbottom had told the players that if they won that game, the line-up would be the same for the national final.

But New Zealand international defender Pat Harris was fit again and was named in the team for the decider, and Dick was left out.

Other team members were unhappy about this, but at a players' meeting Dick put the matter to rest. He told his clubmates that all he wanted was to see the team win the cup, and that Harris was a national representative and it made sense to play him if he was available.

Harris played, and Waterside beat Christchurch Technical 2-1 to win the Chatham Cup.

In those days, only 11 winners' medals were presented because of the no-substitutes rule. However, at the end-of-season awards, the club presented Dick with a special medal for his part in the overall success.

Away from the sporting arena, Dick met a seamstress called Audrey Walters at a dance in Wellington. She was born in Te Araroa and went to school at Bartletts. Dick visited Gisborne with her and liked the place, particularly the beaches. They were married in Gisborne in 1951 and Dick was happy to move to the town. They had three children — Brian (BJ), Lyn and Trina.

Dick had worked at a mattress factory in Wellington, but in Gisborne he did his time as a lineman with Poverty Bay Electric Power Board, in time being put in charge of a gang.

Later, he went meter-reading. His son Brian said that on one trip “to the backblocks of the backblocks” near Ruatoria, Dick's vehicle had three flat tyres in a day. He had a spare wheel for the first one, but needed to call in help for the next two.

He ended up in charge of the meter-reading department and retired in 1987.

Dick enjoyed his sport as a participant and a spectator. Soon after he came to Gisborne he joined the Rangers club and was one of several well-performed footballers with the experience to help younger players around them.

He came out of retirement in 1971 to help out an Edmund Campion College team in the reserve grade and played with a vigour that belied his years.

After he finished work, Dick derived immense pleasure from following the fortunes of his grandchildren, and was an avid supporter of his grandson Stuart Cranswick as he played football for Gisborne Boys' High School, City and United.

As a cricketer, Dick was still going strong in the early 1970s, bowling medium pace for the Marist Senior B side and chiming in with some hard-hit middle-order batting efforts.

In one game against Lytton High School, he took seven wickets for one run. And playing for the Poverty Bay Electric Power Board against a star-studded Hawke's Bay side in a power board tournament in Napier, he hit an undefeated century.

Audrey had told Dick she would buy him a new bat if he scored a hundred. Dick made 121 not out in an innings made up mainly of fours and sixes.

In his late 40s, Dick took up golf. He got his handicap as low as seven, and with another cricket veteran, Allan Nairne of Pirates, won four Te Kanawa Cup men's pairs matchplay titles.

Dick's particular skill was hitting holes in one.

In September 1994, he sank a six-iron tee shot on Gisborne Park Golf Club's fifth hole during the men's club championship qualifying rounds.

That gave him aces on three of Park's four par-three holes – five, seven and 14. He had “only” to ace the second hole for a complete set. He was still trying well into his 70s.

Audrey died in 2004. Dick is survived by his children Brian (BJ), Lyn and Trina, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

— Obituary by John Gillies, using material from articles by Iain Gillies and Chris Taewa

BIGGEST FAN: A 2010 picture of Dick Carr with grandson Stuart Cranswick, then with Gisborne City and now with Gisborne United. Dick was an enthusiastic supporter of local football, and particularly of his grandson's goalscoring exploits. File pictures by Paul Rickard
SPECIAL MEDAL: Dick Carr shows the medal presented to him by the Wellington Waterside football club for his part in their 1947 Chatham Cup success.