As a critic, as a fan and as a more than active/avid follower of sport, I am going to indulge myself at time to time on sport.
For me there are no two finer sports than Cricket and Football (soccer). They are very old sports, they are professional sports, they are simple sports and they foster in me exactly what sport should be – incredibly tough competition and the up most of skill.
Is there anything more majestic than the cover drive, the yorker, the headed corner or freakish goal. I am also a fan of the more traditional of the sports. I have time for One Day Cricket, I have no time for 20/20. I love the 9 month campaign of the Premier League, I have little or no time for a one off final.
While Rugby struggles with the intricacies of a truly professional sport and bandies around inane reactionary (TV driven) mixed and extended playoffs, Football and to a lesser extent Cricket rolls on.
10 years ago when England toured NZ and the young Chris Broads father was opening batsmen for England (scoring 114), I was on the embankment at the old Lancaster Park. Danny Morrison took 5 for 69 in the first innings. Wright and Franklin were opening batsmen and the amazing Ewan Chatfield was still holding up (strangling) one end.
Around that time, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the test match, I was one of only 3 people at the ground whom were paying public. The reason was the snow on the ground – I was hopeful in my shorts with radio at my side, it gave the commentators something to think about.
The very first morning of the very first trip to London with my wife I was rushing from Heathrow, hugs and kisses for our friends, tube map in hand and making my way to White Hart Lane, home of Tottenham Hostspurs, to see my beloved Everton get their butts kicked. In the wee small hours, when Everton is playing someone and Sky doesn’t have the broadcast, I get up and listen to the commentary over the internet via local radio in the UK.
During the Robbie Deans – Grizz Wiley Ranfurly Shield era of the 1980’s I didn’t miss one game for Canterbury. I know the layout of Augusta, home of the US Masters golf open, and the backs of most of the heads of the players – it’s the predominant shot of them you have, and I don’t even play the game. I know whom are the competitors in the worlds Darts Championship, much about the MLB and the illustrious relationship that America has with it’s national game – so much so I conned my way into Fenway Park after one of the World Series Finals just to get a pic to send to my buddies back home, and ended having a beer on my own on top the Green Monster.
I was buzzed to actually see Sergei Fedorov skate around the Ice while I was in Vancouver recently. I look forward with excitement every year when the small rich Principality of Monaco hosts a F1 Grand Prix. We got Sky in our flat just so we could watch the NBA live on TV, we then took sky everywhere with us to watch the NBA. I remember Reon Murtha calling Blossom Lady win the 1992 New Zealand Trotting Cup, and have a long history with Racing with my mothers family the Townleys – my Grandfather won the 1936 NZ Free For All with one of this countries greatest horses Harold Logan. I remember watching Everton vs a Canterbury invitational squad (basically the 1982 World Cup team) at ChCH – and have the signed match ball to go with it – Dad won the 50c raffle.
I remember the glory days of NZ football, qualifying for the World Cup in 1982 Spain. I remember going to Trans Tours United (CHCH United) vs Rangers with 9-10,000 people turning out to QEII park for a local derby. How freaking cool is that and when was the last time 10,000 people turned up for Marist vs Varsity in club rugby in Auckland (? ever – it may have but I doubt it).
I am a sports nut, and as such have an opinion (who doesn’t?)
This month is very special for me. Everton re-qualified for the UEFA cup, there was the FA Cup, there is the Monaco Grand Prix, The Indi 500, the Stanley Cup finals, The NBA finals. The Vancouver Whitecaps season is just getting started, The finals of the Super 14 etc etc you get the picture, most months are pretty special for me. Add to that the special and relatively rare tour of England by our cricket team, and that most illustrious of games, a test at Lords Cricket ground in the North West of London, the spiritual home of Cricket.
I have watched and listened to the test over the last 5 days, slept through the rain delays and checked the internet first thing in the morning for all of the stats. I watched us stumble through the first innings and then watched the English stroll their way towards our first innings score. However that is where is all ended for the Brits and the Balmy Army. The rest of the game was ours, and this is where I am starting my moan – yes there was a point to this post.
If you were to believe the popular media, TV and radio, you would have believed that the Black Caps were chasing the game from the start and ‘struggled’ to a draw. However, what the hell would they know. The TV3 sports presenter almost looked pleased to once again bag the Black Caps. The problem was, he was wrong. NZ dominated large and important parts of the game. Sure we were on the back foot from time to time, but there were the crucial times where English wickets were falling with regular ease, and despite a tight start to our second innings, with the aid of Jacob Oram’s test century (get’s his name on the honours board at Lords! – along with Daniel Vettori) we cruised to a comfortable draw. But not if you are part of the great Kiwi knocking machine – the NZ sports media. These spineless bunch of free loaders, are on the whole all too willing to print the popular perception, rather than the reality of the sport.
While the British media sports writers were all giving first honours to NZ, the Kiwi sports media on the whole was putting the boot in – all too easy and boring. Sure there were areas we need to work on (sport isn’t perfect) and there were the odd commentators who saw that we did well, but to the rest of you spineless and inaccurate hacks – LEARN YOUR CRAFT.