Addington Magpies made a long-awaited return to senior men’s competition last weekend, playing their first Division One game since 2018 – and marking the milestone with a 40-38 victory over Riccarton Knights.

Flashback Friday marks 35 years since the proud club’s last Canterbury Rugby League premiership triumph.

Canterbury’s oldest club, Addington was established in 1913 and had won five titles – including a famous grand final win in 1982 under the coaching of Frank Endacott – coming into the 1989 season.

Their ’89 campaign was on tenterhooks six weeks out from the grand final, however, following a season-ending 10-match suspension handed down to skipper and star forward John Green and a three-match losing streak that put their playoffs hopes in jeopardy.

Despite a convincing final-round loss to out-of-contention Halswell, the Magpies rallied to finish the regular season third and advanced to the grand final by accounting for Hornby 16-12 and Linwood 12-8 in close-fought sudden-death affairs.

With momentum on its side – as well as burying the disappointment of finishing top of the table but failing to reach the decider in 1988 – Addington powered to a thrilling 27-14 win over Marist-Western Suburbs to clinch the Pat Smith Challenge Trophy.

Lance Setu (top left) captained Addington to a 27-14 win over Marist-Western Suburbs in the 1989 CRL grand final.

The Saints led 14-7 with half an hour of the grand final remaining, but the Magpies rallied to edge in front 15-14 before late tries to centres Mike Dorreen and man-of-the-match Vince McCue – who also kicked five goals and a field goal – sealed the result.

Stand-in skipper Lance Setu was an inspiration for victorious Addington, while Robbie Rushton, Graham Larson, Tony Smart, Brent Austin and Shaun Gousmett shone in the Magpies pack, Malcolm Aldridge steered the ship in the halves, and Willie Naoupu (main image) and Dave Paki found their way over for tries.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for Marist-Western Suburbs, who finished seven points clear in the premiership but lost in the decider for the second straight season to extend the club’s record in grand finals to 0-7.

Addington’s Vince McCue (left) and Robbie Rushton round up Marist-Western Suburbs replacement Heemi Wihongi in the 1989 grand final.

It would be Marist-Western Suburbs’ last CRL grand final appearance before dropping out of the premiers grade at the end of 1996. Addington went down to Hornby in the 1990 grand final and fielded a team in the premiers grade for the last time in 1997.

Linwood’s Moko Rangiaho won the Canterbury Rugby League Sportsman of the Year award, while Dorreen claimed the A.G. Bailey Cup as the competition’s top try-scorer and Marist-Western Suburbs’ Bryce Nicholson etched his name onto the Turner and Le Brun Cup for kicking the most goals.

The Magpies’ Division One outfit takes on Northern Bulldogs at Murphy Park this Saturday (kick-off 1pm). Meanwhile, Addington is one of the newcomers (alongside Hornby) in the 2024 CRL Women’s Premiership, which gets underway on May 5th – another illustration of the 111-year-old club’s resurgence.


Addington 27 (D Paki, V McCue, W Naoupu, M Dorreen tries; McCue 5 goals, field goal) defeated Marist Western-Suburbs 14 (J MacGougan 2 tries; A Wildermoth 3 goals).

Source: John Coffey – Lion Red 1989 Rugby League Annual

Addington winger Willie Naoupu was a try-scorer in the Magpies' 1989 grand final victory over Marist-Western Suburbs.
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