The 1930s - Overlooked and Under-rated.

When we read our rugby history, the 1930s often appear to be a decade when nothing much happened, except the Springboks came here in 1937 and gave the All Blacks a pasting. Well, that happened, but those Boks were one of the all-time great teams. It's not as if everyone in New Zealand suddenly forgot how to play the game but, given how readily the 30s are glossed over, you might be forgiven for thinking so. If the first two All Black teams to Britain had not been so overwhelmingly successful, the 1935-36 record of 24 wins, a draw and three losses in 28 matches might have been regarded as pretty good, although two of the four tests were lost. It was still far from poor, but the previous tours had distorted perspective a bit, and British rugby had improved a lot.

Then there was another global war, even bigger than the last. That's almost all anyone remembers about the 1940s these days; the number of people whose memories actually extend back that far is steadily decreasing. It was a difficult time for everyone, and almost everything material was in short supply. That was on the back of the Depression, which hurt in an area like Ponsonby. Rather like the first half of the 1910s, it happened but nobody really remembers it.

It was a similar story at the rugby club; the 1930s followed hard on the heels of the greatest period any club in Auckland had ever known, or would know for at least another 60 years. With at least two championships being the norm every year in the 1920s, Ponsonby got used to reaping rewards as a matter of course that were actually quite extraordinary. There was no way that sort of performance could be sustained indefinitely, especially with some suburban clubs growing quickly and fielding plenty of teams - many more than Ponsonby managed in some cases.

In the middle of all this, Ponsonby ran off a Gallaher Shield hat-trick in 1936-38. There weren't the large number of All Blacks the 1920s teams boasted, but there were a lot of Auckland representatives. You don't seem to hear as much about what they did, yet those teams were as entertaining and as high-scoring as their more famous counterparts of a decade earlier.The competition was little short of a shambles, with seasons still running until October and some teams not playing for a month or more at a time, but the crowds still turned up. People still enjoyed the game.

When all was said and done, Ponsonby still played it better than most.