The Vincent Green tournament has been an annual fixture on the Blue Rovers calendar since 1971 and is in memory of one of its founding players, Vincent Green. The history of the Tournament and the Club are closely intertwined.
Vincent Green was the third child of June and Graham Green, who emigrated to New Zealand from the UK in 1967. Once in Tauranga, June and Graham bought the Rendezvous Coffee Lounge on Devonport Road and, with their five children, established themselves quickly in the community.
June Green recalls that fellow immigrant, Dutchman Andre van der Sande, owned a fruit and vegetable store next to the coffee lounge. Mr van der Sande and the Greens quickly became friends and Graham and Andre discovered a shared love of sport.
Andre’s passion was football. He proposed the establishment of a junior football club for ten to eleven year olds. The Club, for boys in the central Tauranga area, was first formed in 1970. Andre was the Club’s first coach, Vincent was the second of the original eleven boys to sign up.
June remembers that Blue Rovers was the boys’ choice for a club name, as were the team colours of blue and red (now blue and white). Their first practice game took place on Jordan Park on Devonport Road (now part of memorial park) . The team’s first official encounter with the Thames junior football side resulted in a resounding 9-0 loss. But the Blue Rovers returned to Tauranga undeterred. They continued to practice their skills under Andre’s coaching, going on to great success in their age group.
By the end of the first season the Blue Rovers Club was firmly established and the boys returned in 1971 for their second season.
But events took a sad and unexpected turn when Vincent passed away suddenly on 27th July 1971 from a brain tumour.
His loss was keenly felt by the tight knit Blue Rovers team. Andre was soon looking for a practical way to remember Vincent, and came up with the idea of a tournament in his honour. The Vincent Green Memorial Shield, generously donated by Vincent’s parents, was first presented in 1971. The tournament has become a proud annual fixture as the Club continues to flourish and expand.
For young players, Vincent Green’s story makes the Memorial Shield a particularly meaningful event. “Youngsters have been touched by Vincent’s story and have seen participation in the Tournament as a special privilege” says Ken Carrick, the event coordinator.
Today the Blue Rovers Junior Football Club has grown vastly from the original eleven to over 500 members of boys and girls ranging from ages 4 through to youth grades 13-15yr olds as well as social and competitive mens and womans teams.
Theo Ursum is the current President of the Blue Rovers Junior Football Club. “The Club has seen many changes as it has grown over the years” he says. “It is supported by a dedicated team of passionate and proactive volunteers in management and coaching roles, and we now own a dedicated clubhouse, Meredith Hall, at our home field, Pemberton Park. We are constantly looking for ways to improve the club and give children and coaches the opportunity to develop.
Despite the Club’s many successes (it was the 2016 WaiBOP Football Club of the Year), Theo sees its heritage as a family club as its most important attribute. “It has never been all about winning” he said. “The Club’s original ethos remains the cornerstone of its popularity: the