MARIST SAINTS MARCH ON
For a club with only two teams you can never fault Marist Saints’ pride, passionate members and the long-running history they uphold.
In 2018 it may be difficult to recall a time when the Saints once were one of the CRL’s most feared clubs but Marist-Western Suburbs appeared in seven premiership grand finals between 1969 and 1989.
Famed Canterbury Kiwis such as Jimmy Haig, Keith Roberts, Bob Irvine, Mita Mohi, Mocky Brereton, Ray Baxendale, Mike O’Donnell, Mark Broadhurst, Wayne Wallace and Logan Edwards all donned the club’s colours during their careers.
But they have not fielded a team in that grade since 1996 and at the moment they face a continuous battle to obtain young players. It is especially difficult when many youth players go to play for their representative coaches or find it more appealing playing at clubs with teams in all three senior grades.
Marist Green and Marist Gold are both in the Division One competition.
Split into two teams because of numbers, both sides have a mix of young and older heads.
Despite being from the same club there is never any love lost when they come up against each other. The rivalry between Marist’s teams is certainly one the club gets up for.
“I think it is quite strong when they play each other, they both want bragging rights of course,” Saints President Paul Costigan said.
Marist Gold currently sit third on the ladder while Marist Green are in fifth.
Costigan says the Division One competition is very important for a club like Marist and is a big help to them. He believes there is more to strive for in the lower grades but contends the Saints’ teams are looking to become stronger.
“You want to be dominant in the Division One grade before you start looking any higher,” Costigan explained.
Costigan revealed that despite being a smaller club in the Canterbury Rugby League realm, the Saints try to give back to their local community.
He says there is a strong push, certainly next year, to get a schoolboys team re-established. They tried this year but it failed to lift off the ground. However, next year there is going to be a bigger push.
Although Marist have had a proud history in the premiership grades – going all the way back to Maris Old Boys’ three championships (1924-25 and 1928) – in the last 20 years they haven’t had the player quality or depth to compete.
Although there are enough players for two teams at Marist, the club wants to grow. Players having families, transferring to other clubs and retiring younger are the main factors that limit the Saints ability to boost their playing roster.
Costigan says there are some promising and exciting young players coming through and for the club’s commitment to fielding a schoolboys team next year is sure to bring in more.
He was quick to acknowledge they spent many seasons as one of the top three teams in the premier grades.
“In the day when I was playing there we had a very strong club, we were always in the top two or three teams for about 15 years.
“Marist were very, very strong but it is like everything else – people come and go and we have no schoolboys at the moment, we don’t have those young fellas coming through so we rectify that.”
The Saints have a very clear goal of moving forward and looking to return to competing in the top grades. It gives younger players something to strive for, which in turn builds numbers and increases the chances of retaining players.
But Costigan says the more players they can get and hopefully a schoolsboys team again, the Marist Saints’ resurgence to the top tier could well be on.
Marist is a very humble club that looks out for their members and provides the area with a local league team. A club with a proud history and a willingness to keep succeeding; qualities that lay a solid platform for a promising future.