McKerrow Memorial Cup
By Graeme Glass
The McKerrow Memorial Cup was presented in 1957 by the Mt Harper Ice Hockey Team for South Canterbury inter club ice hockey competition. For many years it sat on a mantelpiece in South Canterbury. The trophy was uncovered and presented to the Southern Ice Hockey League as a Senior trophy in 1997. The story of the McKerrow Memorial Cup is very interesting and needs to be told and preserved for the future. Some of this story has been handed down but it was also partly retold by Claire Allison in the Timaru Herald on July 12th 2001.
Graham McKerrow was a keen member of the Mt Harper Ice Hockey Team based in Timaru. 1957 was a severe winter in South Canterbury, cold enough to freeze over Saltwater Creek then known as Otipua Creek. Saltwater Creek is the small stream on the southern boundary of Timaru crossed by State Highway 1. One frosty July morning Graham McKerrow and his friend Ron Wilson decided to go down to Saltwater Creek and get in some skating practise before the weekends ice hockey competitions. Only one survived. The ice collapsed under the weight of the two skaters when they got to a soft patch by some willow trees. Ron Wilson miraculously survived but Graham McKerrow went under the ice and drowned.
Ron Wilson was very lucky. When the ice gave way and the two men went into the water, his stick spanned the hole and he was able to keep his head above the water. Graham McKerrow disappeared in a matter of seconds when the cold got to him. Ron Wilson called and called for help. Fortunately a couple nearby, whose horse had become agitated came to investigate, heard him and came to the rescue.
The couple, Paul and Betty Northover, got a rope and dragged the frozen and exhausted man from the creek. Unfortunately they were too late for Graham McKerrow whose body was recovered 3 hours later.
The Mt Harper Ice Hockey Team was a regular competitor in the ice hockey competitions in South Canterbury in those days along with several other now defunct clubs such as Opawa, Fairlie, Irishman Creek, Tekapo and more recently, Albury. The Mt Harper rink has long been closed and was on the shady side of Mt Harper up on the northern side of the Rangitata Gorge area of South Canterbury.
Winners of the McKerrow Cup over the years are:
1958 Mt Harper
1960 - 1966 Tekapo
1968 - 1972 Albury
1997 - Queenstown
1998 - Dunedin Loch Monsters
1999 - Dunedin Penguins
2000 - Queenstown
2001 - Dunedin Penguins
2002 - Queenstown
2003 - Queenstown