Sam Seaman (Life Member) Tribute

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The Club was proud to hold Life Member Sam Seaman’s funeral in the Clubrooms last week. Sam passed away after a long battle with cancer on the 9th January at his home. It was Sam’s wish to have his funeral in the Clubrooms where he had devoted so much of his time as a player, committee member, and housie organiser.
The following is taken from good friend and fellow life member Roy Daniel’s tribute at the funeral:

In 1984 Winston Cooper wrote the Centennial Book of Southern and tilted it “Once a Southern Man” …. always a Southern Man.   No one epitomizes that title more that Sam Seaman.   His association with Southern began in 1953 and ends today 63 years later when he leaves here for the last time. 

Over the years Sam has been involved as a Player, administrator and supporter that ranks with the very best. 

In Oct/Nov when Sam became aware of the degree of his illness he invited several of us around to talk about his time at Southern, so much of the following is Sam’s thoughts and recollections of his time at Southern.

Sam joined Southern in 1953 as a 5year old when his father Harry brought him down to Bathgate Park to play for the Schoolboys.  His earliest memories were about playing at the fairs which Southern held in those early days while his father went to the Fitz, and  playing in the 5st 10lb team coached by Dave Johnston.

Wednesday afternoons he played for Corstorphine School – In Sam’s words “That was the only 1st XV he made.

 4 Years at Kings high followed, where he played in the 2nd XV before returning to Southern in 1966, playing in the under 18’s.

There was never any doubt that he would return to Southern.  In those days everyone returned to the Club where they played Schoolboys Rugby. 

Then 1968 saw him playing in the Colts B Team which drew with the A Team 3-3.    – Sam recalled when the first scrum went down and someone yelled out “Whose been drinking   Piss”, Sam denied it was him.

He then progressed from Third grade to Second Grade A as a lock /Prop.   He recalled one day being pulled as a prop for the Second Grade A against Pirates, much to the disgust of his close friend the late Brent Stanley  who believe HE was the better player.

That day Sam was selected as “Player of the Day “ – he considered this as the highlight of his playing career.

Sam finished playing in 1977 in rather auspicious circumstances –

August team trip to Cromwell to participate in a 7 aside Tournament in Alexandra.  Several of the touring team are no doubt here today.

The problem was they were defaulted to in the 1st game – what does a team do when then 

“Go to the nearest Pub, and return to play their next game with a few on board,

– Result 3 players were sent off – Sam for “repeatedly fighting”   

The Team then “booed” into a local hotel,

They decided to keep the news from the President.  Alan Stevens – the problem was it was reported on the National TV news on Sunday and the front page of the ODT on Monday, not sure where they all thought Alan Stevens was going to be.

He recalled the many Good Team Trips and several as Team Manager of Colts Trips.

Sam joined the committee in 1973 under Andy Henderson,

Here he made his greatest contribution, initially serving an apprenticeship as Social Convener for 3 years which he said he thoroughly enjoyed, as a result of many of the functions he organized Southern became the envy of other Clubs.

Sam served on many Sub Committees including 90th Jubilee Committee,

100th Centennial Committee –

Organizer of Centennial Ball

And when Ian Stevens left for South Africa the Centennial Dinner.

In 1989 Sam was elected President of Southern and in 1994 he became the youngest ever Life member, an indication of the esteem with which he was held by his fellow Club Members.


HOUSIE:  Sam commenced with the Housie Team at the Beach Hotel in 1972 every Wednesday night I think I am correct in saying that is where he met Trish so maybe there was more than one motive in going to Housie.


Sam was responsible in moving Housie back to Southern in 1987 where it is still operating today, he continued to attend these evenings until early January last year when his illness was first diagnosed.


Sam’s organizing ability is best summed up by saying I doubt if there was any President/Chairman who  had to go back to Sam and check that all was under control.    “You just knew that everything would be OK”

Functions he took particular pride in being involved with included

 “Southern Sunday” 

People paid $10 to become honorary members of Southern so they could attend, in the days when Pubs were not meant to be open.  There were Waiting list to obtain tickets.

“Oyster Bar” – Friday night in changing rooms opening sacks of oysters.

Entertainment included Club Members, Doug Betts, Norm Bresanello but also coerced Tom Sharplin over from the Shoreline Hotel among others.

“Women’s Night” – Striptease Illegal – Police arrived – Sam met them at the door and told them their boss was here, the police asked to stay.

“Horse Racing Night” – Organized with Brent Stanley.

“Annual Ball” – One year he was so confident Southern would win the final he had tickets printed before the final – just as well the opposition did not get a hold of one.

“Bavarian Night”, sawdust on the floor Donald Reid as Burger Master, then Doug Betts collapsing and Sam becoming frustrated with the time it took the ambulance to arrive as it was holding up the function.

Club Picnics” Long Beach and Taieri Mouth

Some positions in the Club carry a lot more profile than others, jobs Sam performed did not always carry the same high profile, but were carried out efficiently with significant reward for the Club.

He was a great collector of Southern and to a lesser extent Otago Rugby memorabilia, anything to do with Southern he had dating back many years.  Newspaper articles, and all Club programs for various events.

It was through Housie that he has made his greatest contribution to this Club continually involved since 1972, organizing Housie the setup, Books, Money etc was a time consuming exercise,  without dealing with thick smoke in the early days.

Early days shifting tables back and forth from Southern to the Beach Hotel which was a pain but he never complained.  He did state he was lucky through his job that he was able to disappear for periods and do whatever was required.

His total commitment every Wednesday was amazing.

I recall on one occasion we were potted for innocently paying out to much,  and the Dept of DIA suspended us for 1 or 2 nights, this really upset Sam, rather than accept it as an night off he went to the local MP – Michael Cullen in an effort to get the suspension squashed.  Such was his commitment.

At the meeting we had with Sam the thing that impressed me personally was Sam’s remarkable memory about events and things that happened both at the Club and Functions he was involved with.  For example he recalled an incident at a Housie dinner at Macandrew Bay when Brent Stanley ordered a Cray Fish and when it arrived John Granger grabbed it and thought it was for everybody, another one was ordered.

Club Picnics he could recall who won the races, Men’s and Women’s

Who played in such and such a game where and when.

Little incidents that others would have long forgotten, he could recall with the greatest detail. 

As Sam said at our get together the Club was his life, not sure that that was true as I am sure that Trish and his Girls were more important, but it certainly indicates how committed he was to Southern.

When Sam leaves here today so does a hell of a lot of History.

So Sam shortly you will leave Southern for the last time, those of us that have been involved with you are better off for the experience. 

Your contribution to the Club has been immense and your photo on the wall will remain an inspiration to others to continue the legacy you leave behind.

Just like those that preceded you provided the inspiration to you.

We will strive to ensure the high standards you have set are maintained.

Sam you have been the typical NZ Male, interested in Rugby Racing and Beer, you will be missed.

The full time whistle has blown and many of your closest friends now await you to join them for the after match, travel well my friend and Rest in Peace.

From Roy Daniels