Fiji‘s legendary captain has left his own piece of history in the Bati’s spiritual UK home.
Following Rochdale Hornets‘ success in hosting a World Cup group game, the supporter-owned club has secured an iconic piece of rugby league memorabilia that recognises the most recent chapter in the long-standing relationship between the town and Fiji.
Bati skipper Petero Civoniceva said during the World Cup that he would confirm his retirement by leaving his boots behind in the UK when he returned home. Fittingly, he chose to leave them in Rochdale – home to the UK’s largest Fijian population.
The acquisition of the boots contributes to the Hornets’ on-going project to promote the history of Rugby League in Rochdale, supported by a grant of £52,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Civoniceva said of his gesture:
“I was blown away by the reception we received since we’ve been here.
“We have learnt about the history we have here and it’s something to be proud of. When we went to city hall, it was pretty emotional.”
Hornets Chairman Mark Wynn said: “It is a great honour that Petero chose to leave his boots in Rochdale. To symbolically end what has been a glittering career in the town where Fiji‘s Rugby League journey began back in 1961 is a source of great pride to our club.”
Civoniceva’s final game in the boots was Fiji‘s Rugby League World Cup semi-final v Australia at Wembley, and they will go on display early next year in Rochdale Hornets‘ new Rugby League Heritage Centre.