Ashamed to be a sports fan
David Cunliffe last week looked at the violence being wrought on women and declared he was sorry he was a man.
Perhaps it was a political stunt from the Labour leader, but I had a certain sympathy when I heard what he’d said.
I’m more than happy being of the male persuasion, but some moments in New Zealand sports history have left me shaking my head and sorry: 1976 – Olympic boycott. Upset that an All Black team was touring apartheid South Africa during the Montreal Olympics, 24 countries boycotted the games. The focus of the world was uncomfortably on New Zealand.
The situation wasn’t helped by the insulting language Prime Minister Rob Muldoon directed at Abraham Ordia, president of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa.
It got so bad that New Zealanders in Montreal took to passing themselves off as Australians. 1978 – lineout dive. Andy Haden and Frank Oliver cheated to help the All Blacks beat Wales in 1978. With time nearly up, Haden and Oliver dived from a lineout, pretending they’d been pushed. Their theatrics induced referee Roger Quittenton to award New Zealand a penalty, which Brian McKechnie duly kicked. New Zealand won the test 13-12. I was sorry to be an All Black supporter that day. 1981 – Springbok tour. By 1981, South Africa was becoming increasingly isolated in international sport, as revulsion at its apartheid laws set in.
That did not stop the New Zealand Government and the Rugby Union from welcoming a Springbok team to New Zealand. The South Africa team, with one token black player in Errol Tobias, toured that winter amid unprecedented scenes of civil unrest.
It was a shameful episode for New Zealand. 1993 – the gym rat. New Zealand squash was proud of Bryce Taylor, leading junior then long-time coach of Susan Devoy. Then Taylor installed secret cameras in a gym in London to take secret photos of Princess Diana working out.
He sold the pics to the Mirror group for hundreds of thousands of pounds. Taylor was reviled and became known as the gym rat. 2003 – America’s Cup. It was bad enough losing the America’s Cup 5- 0 to Alinghi, skippered by Russell Coutts. But the Blackheart episode was a disgrace.
High- profile figures such as squash player Susan Devoy, comedian Mike King and media personalities Murray Deaker and Bill Ralston backed Blackheart, which was purportedly set up to support Team New Zealand. In fact, it was just a poisonous ‘‘Get Coutts’’ group that even resorted to death threats. 2007 – blame the ref. The All Blacks, poorly prepared and selected, lost disastrously to France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals. Having led 13-3 at halftime, they showed a lack of vision and skill in the second half and went down 20-18.
Rather than look at their own ineptitude, the All Blacks, their coaches and fans blamed referee Wayne Barnes for not awarding them penalties when they needed them.
New Zealanders like to think of themselves as fair and honest.
– Vincent’s match- That perception was blown apart by Lou Vincent, who admitted to fixing many matches over a period of five years.
He has been banned for life, and has tarnished the reputation of cricket in general and New Zealand cricket in particular.
Low moment: Frank Oliver, front, and Andy Haden prepare for the fateful lineout against Wales in 1978.