The Sportsman, Reg Boyne and Auckland's Everton

The Sportsman newspaper was a ‘weekly illustrated review of sports’ published each Friday from August 1912 to March 1914, by the Auckland-based Sport Printing and Publishing Company. Although it was an Auckland paper its contents were national and international in scope. It looks as though the run held at Auckland Libraries is unique and thus a potentially underused resource for Aotearoa sports researchers. The copies here have been well read and are in a very fragile condition. 

Image: Fragile copies of The Sportsman.

The Sportsman

The Sportsman appears an almost forgotten publication. There is no mention of it in Te Ara’s story on New Zealand sports reporting, nor in Guy Scholefield's Newspapers in New Zealand or Ian Grant’s recent Lasting impressions: the story of New Zealand’s newspapers, 1840-1920.
Even more strange is that there is (almost) no mention of it in the contemporary newspapers. The only trace I found is a paragraph in Dunedin’s Evening Star (8 August 1912) acknowledging receipt of the inaugural issue and describing it thus:
Image: Evening Star, 8 August 1912.

As well as the high quality of the production, a feature of The Sportsman is the wide range of its coverage. It is not dominated by rugby and racing (although they do both feature prominently), and covers boxing, billiards, athletics (both amateur and cash), yachting, football, hockey, cricket, rowing, swimming, lawn tennis and other sports, as well as a section on stage notes. Football coverage included the columns ‘Union game’, ‘League rugby’ and ‘Association code’.

The stage notes section was titled “Around the theatres”  and gave readers news of current shows, coming attractions as well as celebrity gossip about the stars of the moment. Another regular feature was the inclusion of advertisements from hotels around the Auckland region including information on the proprietors as well as the services offered.

Writers used nom-de-plumes, for example the boxing correspondent was “Corinthian”, the theatre writer was “The lounger” and “Cavalier” covered the racing track.

A feature of note for researchers is that The Sportsman employed their own photographers. Thus a number of the images found in this publication may be unique to it. As well as action shots, photos included team portraits, for example of the Hamilton Ladies’ Hockey Team and the Auckland 4th & 5th Grade rugby champions.

Image: Hamilton Ladies Hockey Team. From: The Sportsman, 1912.

Coverage from across the Tasman was a feature including a regular frontpage column ‘Australian topics’ which included things like round ups of the New South Wales rugby league competition, whose subsequent iterations have remained very popular here in Aotearoa.

It was the self-proclaimed ‘best and brightest sporting paper in New Zealand’ which included the ’latest news and crisp comment on all forms of sport.’

An example of a local story covered by The Sportsman, is that of Auckland’s Everton football club and one of its star players Reg Boyne.

Reg Boyne

Reg has the distinction of being the first New Zealand (association) footballer (not NZ-born) to be signed for an English professional club.

Image: Portrait of Reg Boyne. From: The Sportsman, October 10, 1913 p.5.

The Sportsman reports:

“Seldom indeed outside of the League code has an engagement been offered to a colonial by a football club in the front rank in England. This compliment has just recently been paid to Reg Boyne, the Everton Club and Auckland representative centre forward.

Boyne, although born in England, did not commence his playing career till when as an Auckland schoolboy he assisted Beresford Street School in the Auckland Football Association’s fourth grade. A forward move was shortly made, Boyne finding a place in the Arawa Club’s third grade team. For two years he assisted the Corinthian senior team, and early last season joined the Everton Club, who have won the championship both seasons.

On the only occasion that Auckland has boasted a touring soccer team, in 1910 and 1913, Boyne has gained a place in the representative eleven. He has a fine record as a goal scorer, his dash and cleverness with both feet assisting him in finding the net an extraordinary number of times.”

Image: Everton Club. From: The Sportsman, 1913.

In Jack Baker’s article on Auckland’s Everton, he describes Reg’s signing:

“In 1913 during a match at Auckland Domain, the headquarters of the Brotherhood team, Boyne scored three great running goals in the first half. Burton, the Brotherhood goalie, was a son of the Aston Villa director. At half-time he approached Boyne in Baker’s hearing and said, ‘Reg would you go home to play for Aston Villa if you had a chance?’

‘Reg replied, ‘Don’t be a bloody fool man. Of course I would.’ Within weeks arrangements were completed and Boyne was on his way.” (Prospect, 2008, v.7 p.4)

As well as playing for Aston Villa Boyne’s career in England included stints at Leicester and Brentford. His time at Brentford is notable in that he scored that club’s first ever League goal after they’d been promoted to the 3rd Division in 1920.

Auckland’s Everton

Auckland’s Everton Club was founded (as Tabernacle) in 1907 in the wake of the English Everton’s first FA Cup win and by 1915 they had 12 teams across all grades.

Baker quotes the Auckland Star: “They started together as Ponsonby boys in 1907 and worked up through the grades, gained the position of runner-up in 1911 and won the Championship this year [1912]. Seven of the original founders were still in the Premier team.”

Reg’s father, William, was at one time the president of the club and Reg along with his younger brothers, William and Harold, donned the club’s blue and black hooped shirts and helped them win league titles in consecutive seasons (1912 and 1913) and the 1914 Falcon Cup. (Everton FC Heritage Society, 19 Dec 2019.)

Image: Menu from the Everton Football Club's "Third Annual Dinner". Held Saturday 3rd October, 1914 at Buchanan's Café, Karangahape Road, Auckland. Everton Football Club, EPH-HRC-7-32, Auckland War Memorial Museum.

After the First World War Everton was disbanded as sadly many of their stalwarts did not return from the War, including Reg’s brother Harold who was killed on the Western Front on the 21st of February 1917. All told eight Everton players died in the War. 

The Sportsman’s demise

I initially assumed the paper was an early victim of the First World War, as considering many sports were suspended during its duration there would be little to write about. Although this may have played some part in The Sportsman’s demise, it seems financial difficulties were an issue before the war began.

The last issue was published in March 1914 and as early as April the business was in the Tenders column of the Auckland Star advertising the business for sale as a going concern, but also accepting alternative tenders for any portion of the assets. The assets listed include the Goodwill and Copyright of The Sportsman; the job printing business carried out from the company’s premisses on Durham Street and the up-to-date and complete printing machinery and plant, including a stock of paper, type, woodcuts and blocks, office furniture etc.

Six months later in the New Zealand Herald the Public Notices show a petition for the winding up of The Sport Printing and Publishing Company, Limited. The petition was presented by a bookbinder, a wholesale stationer, an engraver and a paper-ruler, all creditors of the Company. Under this petition the company was ordered to wind up by the Supreme Court and placed into liquidation.
A sad end for an interesting local paper.

Were the publishers frozen out by their competitors, the established papers? Or perhaps it was just too difficult to produce a high quality paper at a price acceptable to the public.

Do you know more about this sporting gem? Please let us know.

Author: Andrew Henry


Boyne, Reginald. Wikipedia.

Gilham, Richie. Reginald Boyne of Leicester Fosse and Everton (Auckland) – Everton FC Heritage Society, 19 Dec 2019