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.

2014 fix­ing.

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.