The Last Word

By Liam Turner | Posted: Wednesday October 25, 2017

Eight boys, three generations. It's more than just a school to my family.

John Turner (Grandad) 1956 to 1958

Murray Turner (Grandad's brother) 1958 to 1960

Robbie Turner (Grandad's brother) 1962 to 1964

Pete Turner (Dad) 1981 to 1985

Fraser Turner (Uncle) 1985 to 1989

Paul Turner (Robbie’s son and my 2nd cousin) 1992 to 1996

David Turner (Murray’s son and my 2nd cousin) 1988 to 1992

Myself, Liam Turner 2013 to 2017

Otago Boys' is in our blood and it’s in our hearts. So let’s be honest in the latter year of 2012 when I had to make the big decision as to where I was going to be for the next 5 years, I was very much like Hunter and there was only one home. This wasn’t my main reason I’m with you boys today though. It was the day of my interview and look around. At this time, Johnies and Southland Boys' were still options. Well, that changed pretty quickly. As soon as I walked through the archway for the first time, I felt this feeling. I felt a part of something special already. To be honest with you, there were no words to describe it. After 5 years that feeling, that brotherhood feeling, is so much stronger but yet still no words for it. Maybe it’s not meant to be explained, maybe it’s just meant to be felt between the current or past students who have walked through that archway. Thinking about that, makes it just that much more special.

John, my Grandad, the first person in my family to come to Otago Boys' said to me as I said goodbye in Year 9 for the first time. He said, "you’re going to meet some boys up there who are going to be your best mates until the day you die but you’re also going to meet some boys that are plonkers." He couldn’t be any more right. When he told me this, I didn’t really take it that seriously thinking its only school and that you don’t make your mates for life until after school. I underestimated how much he meant about making those relationships, as the mates I have today I would happily retire with. 

To the plonkers he also mentioned, well the funny thing is those plonkers aren’t in this auditorium today. Yes, they may spend a couple of years here, but you’ve got to live with things you don’t like or you won't survive yourself. The reason they don’t survive, is they don’t buy into the brotherhood culture. I believe it takes someone special to be a part of this school. You have to have the school values, you have to have the ticker and the heart to battle for the school crest. 

To the boys who still have years left in their innings - make the most of it. Take every opportunity you can and make memories that will last forever. Because you don’t realise how lucky you are until your innings start coming to the end. Just make me one promise and that’s to keep the Hoops Army alive and make sure it’s a force to be recognised.

To we boys who are leaving, our school days may be over but our time with this school and our contribution to it is only beginning. Days like the Old Boys' golf day really made me realise that being at Otago Boys' is more than just being a student. And it’s good that we have been practising the school song for the last 5 years because it’s going to come to good use and be sung on most occasions for the rest of our lives.

On a personal note, the last five years have been a hell of a ride and going to be hard to beat as my greatest five years of my life. From singing the school song with the boys in a paddock on New Year’s to the Hoops Army on tour to Invercargill, back to a summers afternoon at the Riddell household to tripping up and missing a school record by a second. I have loved every minute of it and it’s because of you boys. You have had a massive influence on my life and I can’t thank you enough.

Boys, respect each other and look after your mates, especially your close ones. They don’t come around often because you never know when you’re going to need them. Look after them and keep in touch.

Because at the end of the day it comes down to who you know, not what you know.