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After 22 seasons, Sir Peter Leitch closes doors on Mt Smart's Mad Butcher Club

There aren’t many, if any, Warriors fans that have supported the NRL club more than Sir Peter Leitch.

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Leitch hosted league fans in the Mad Butcher Club for 22 seasons. Source: 1 NEWS

Among the various ways the prominent Waiheke businessman shows that support, one thing he cherishes the most is the famous Mad Butcher Club in the Stacey Jones lounge at the top of the West Stand at Mount Smart Stadium.

But at the age of 76, he is feeling “a bit tired” and has closed the doors on the club for the final time after 22 years.

The club has seen it all — from prime ministers to NRL executives, All Blacks stars and, of course, rugby league’s greatest legends.

Through the club, thousands of dollars were also raised for various charities and individuals in need.

“The truth is, that last year [2019] that I ran it, on the Sunday [after game day], I couldn’t move,” says Leitch.

“I just couldn’t move. It just drained me.”

The Stacey Jones lounge will remain at Mt Smart but the Warriors will look to use it for other purposes.

Leitch and his good friend Derek Cronwell spent a day packing away one of the most impressive collections of rugby league memorabilia, which made the Mad Butcher Club a paradise for hardcore fans.

“Wally Lewis sat here and he said to me, ‘Butch, this is one of the best stadiums in the world to watch a game at,” Leitch recalls.

Among the countless jerseys that once hung proudly on the walls, two sat higher than the rest.

“Simon Mannering, what a great guy,” Leitch said, while pointing to the jerseys. “There should be a statue here, of him and Stacey Jones.”

One of the highlights of the Mad Butcher Club experience was the on-stage interviews conducted by Leitch, who has an “old school” sense of humour that is “no longer acceptable to some”.

“When the big bosses of the NRL come over, they would want to come up here and they would say, ‘Make sure he’s not too tough on me,'” Leitch says.

“No, it doesn’t work that way. John Key, Helen Clarke — they all knew the rules. And it was all done in fun, it was never deliberate or to be nasty. It was fun.

“But those days are gone now — it takes one person to lay a complaint and it’s on TV.”

The club has had hundreds of members over the years. Many are now friends for life.

“Anything I can do for Peter, I’ll be pleased to do it,” says Cronwell. “He helps me in many ways.

“He takes me to a lot of dinners. I’ve posed as his double a couple of times.

“It [the club] is just fun, it’s like a family.”

Leitch is now looking to spend more time with his wife, Lady Janice, at home on Waiheke Island where he claims to be the “King of kayaking”.

“The memories will be with me until the day I die,” he says.

“And people like Derek and the others will be friends for life.

“Twenty two years of having a ball.

“I’ve had three things in my life — my family, my business and my rugby league. They were the three main things and I wouldn’t change anything.

“What a ride.”